I made this case in my statement yesterday but now that the vote counting is complete in Congress, this becomes Job 1:
Restoring order and finishing the constitutionally mandated counting of the ballots is step number one. Step number 2 is dealing with President Trump’s remaining two weeks in office. For years I have been writing about how dangerous he has been for American democracy, and indeed a big thrust of my most recent book (Election Meltdown) and my book in progress (Cheap Speech) is the dangers of Trump and Trumpism to American democracy. A democracy depends upon conducting fair elections and the losers (perhaps grudgingly) accepting those results as legitimate and agreeing to fight another day.
Trump has never accepted this democratic value and never agreed to a peaceful transition of power. He has put forward completely debunked conspiracy theories saying that the election was stolen, that the results rigged. Whether he believes it or not, he has convinced millions of his followers to believe it. He told his followers for days to come to DC for today’s counting for a “wild” protest. He encouraged today’s march on the capitol. He’s only belatedly told protesters to “go home,” while still spewing conspiracy theories.
This attempt to overturn the results by force followed his attempts to strong arm Republican election officials and legislators to overturn the results of the election in numerous states. They have admirably resisted despite relentless pressure. His most recent call, last Saturday, with Georgia’ secretary of state, is a likely crime under both federal and Georgia law. He continues to foment violent resistance based upon lies with his most ardent supporters.
Trump’s term ends on January 20 unless he is removed from office earlier. It can happen either through invocation of the 25th amendment, done by VP Pence and a majority of the cabinet, on grounds that Trump has shown his unable or unwilling to fulfill his duties as President, or through impeachment and removal from office.
It is not just liberals making this call. Business leaders and some Republicans and leading conservatives have said that today has crossed the line. Trump needs to be removed from office and it needs to happen immediately. If impeached, he should be disqualified from ever holding office again. (He can even be impeached and disqualified after leaving office.)
Removal is very unlikely to happen given the hold that Trump continues to hold over the Republican Party base, but there’s no question that it should.
Congress should not have recessed last night. Speaker Pelosi should call the House back into session and do a summary impeachment based on yesterday’s events. Then the Senate can remove should things deteriorate further.
(I’ll have more to say on those Republicans in Congress voting to sustain faux objections and undermining democracy at a later time.)