At the beginning of the day Wednesday, impeaching Donald Trump seemed far-fetched; a last minute ploy that wouldn’t be worth the effort. He’s already been impeached, after all—what’s the point of going through the rigamarole again just two weeks before he’s slated to leave the White House?
By the early afternoon, however, as his supporters mobbed the Capitol building and breached the chambers where election certifications were being held, impeaching Trump started to seem like a plausible idea. And by the early evening, as Congress reconvened after a day of lockdowns, chaos, and rioting, impeaching Trump felt as much like a moral imperative as it did matter of national security.
The president, a senior adviser says, has "lost it." He has been almost impossible to talk to throughout the day today, and has been watching the coverage of the Capitol.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 7, 2021
Removing Trump from office isn’t some political play. What the president stoked today was unprecedented in American history, and he did it through a media campaign of aggrievement and lies that spans his entire presidency. Anyone who can’t believe what they saw at the Capitol today simply hasn’t been paying attention to what the president has said and done since he took the oath of office. Trump has been calling on his supporters to stand ready to fight for their country in the event that Democrats, the media, and the deep state stole the election, and once Congress was all in place to certify the results of an election he clearly lost, Trump sicced his people on them. The president has been openly talking about Jan. 6’s “wild” rally for weeks, and it appears more than a few of his supporters pulled up to the Capitol ready to take hostages and potentially worse.
a protester in the Capitol with what appears to be a handgun on his hip and zipties, to take congressional hostages. hundreds of people were talking about doing this openly, online in places like https://t.co/ZUaOasvwcM
They were also talking about executing elected Democrats https://t.co/tJmS1vbtn9
— Robert Evans (The Only Robert Evans) (@IwriteOK) January 6, 2021
It hasn’t taken long for lawmakers to respond. Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar announced on Twitter that she’d be drawing up articles of impeachment; within minutes, several lawmakers voiced their support, including Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Members of Trump’s own cabinet, who have anonymously leaked to the press that the president has essentially been a raving lunatic all day, have reportedly discussed looking into invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.
JUST IN: “This is not news we deliver lightly,” @margbrennan says as she reports: Trump Cabinet secretaries are discussing invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump. Nothing formal yet presented to VP Pence.
“I’m talking about actual members of the Cabinet,” she says
— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) January 7, 2021
Removing Trump from office is still a pipe dream. Impeachment would take actual Republican support, and even after Republican lawmakers condemned the Trump insurrectionists they’re unlikely to support the president’s removal with just two weeks left in his term. After Congress reconvened, neither Vice President Mike Pence nor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell mentioned Trump by name when denouncing the violence and vandalism at the Capitol. There’s no moral standing left in the Republican party, whose support of Trump and his inciting rhetoric led directly to today’s unprecedented riots. Still, this is the moment to act. Every so often history offers up an event so egregious and universally condemnable that it redefines the vector of acceptable responses—including turning your back on voting base. Today’s riot was one of those events. If a president isn’t impeached after instructing his supporters to violently invade the Capitol and overturn the election, what good is the function of impeachment?
Defending Trump’s criminality has reached its natural endgame. Writing off Trump’s obvious corruption was easy; it’s a little tougher to downplay a full-scale Capitol putsch, even if it wound up failing. If cowards like McConnell and election challengers like Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley still think Trump is worth defending, they should be asked to vote on it. Make them say one final time where they stand on the idea of democracy, the will of the voting public, and a fascist president who openly threatens national security by encouraging clumsy attempts to topple the government just because he didn’t get his way. Make them say that’s who they still believe in.