Accountability for insurrection, violence and sedition is vital to protect the future of democracy.
We have long known that Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency presented an undeniable threat to our democratic systems. From the very inception of his campaign, he made no attempt to hide his contempt for and distrust of immigrants, communities of color, the LGBT community and women in positions of power. His hatred of these groups was surpassed only by his love for misleading his supporters with lies about the election and provoking violence at his rallies.
Prior to losing the presidency in a fair and democratic election in November, Trump twice publicly refused to promise a “peaceful transfer of power,” asserting that the only way he could possibly lose the election would be due widespread fraud. During the presidential debates, he refused to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, instead telling the far-right, neo-fascist white nationalist organization the “Proud Boys” to “stand back and stand by”.
When trucks with Trump signs and flags surrounded a Biden campaign bus on a Texas highway and attempted to run it off the road on October 30th, Trump tweeted his support for the violent action, writing “I love Texas” and later calling the aggressors “Patriots [who] did nothing wrong.”
In the early morning hours of November 7th, when counting of absentee ballots was ongoing and the country had been warned that the process would take days to complete, Trump prematurely declared himself victorious, saying he had “Won… by a lot.” When the majority of news outlets later declared Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the undeniable victors, Trump predictably refused to concede, instead spreading wild falsehoods about election fraud and further enraging his base.
On January 6th, the nation watched in horror as the predictable conclusion of Trump’s escalating use of incendiary and violent language led to a rampaging insurrection at the US Capitol. The former president promised to “march with” protesters to the Capitol, ordering his supporters to “be strong” and “fight”, and sharing the spotlight with his personal attorney Rudy Guiliani, who called for a “trial by combat”.
As hoards of angry supporters and Q Anon conspiracists stormed the Capitol, news reports indicate that Trump watched the attack live on tv and reacted with joy, ignoring calls from legislators fearing for their lives behind barricades created by outnumbered capitol police officers. He refused to authorize deployment of the National Guard to protect members of Congress, despite threats to assassinate our representatives using blunt force or the gallows they erected outside. Seven people lost their lives that day, including a brave capitol police officer who was beaten to death while protecting our democratically elected leaders. Countless other officers were maimed, with severity ranging from stab wounds and lost fingers to heart attacks and traumatic brain injuries. Two have since committed suicide. Despite his technical inability to do so, Vice President Pence eventually authorized the deployment of the National Guard to quell the violence. Hours later, Trump released a toothless statement similar to his reaction to Nazi rioters in Charlottesville, restating the lies that inspired the mob and assuring them, “You’re very special people, we love you.”
It is difficult to imagine a set of circumstances more deserving of impeachment. If Donald Trump is not convicted for his attempted insurrection and sedition, it will send a clear message to future leaders that no actions during their final days in office are out of bounds. In order to protect our elected leaders and indeed our democracy itself, Trump must be impeached, and prevented from ever holding office again.