USA TODAY US Edition
Our view: Impeach Trump and start Senate trial without delay
President Donald Trump incited thousands to march on Capitol Hill last week, where they sacked America’s seat of government in an effort to stop confirmation of the presidential election.
It was an insurrectional act that demands his prompt removal from office, if not by resignation or the 25th Amendment, then through the impeachment process.
With Trump showing no inclination to resign — he insisted Tuesday that his remarks at the pre-riot rally were “totally appropriate” — the Democraticled House of Representatives was poised to approve a resolution demanding that Vice President Mike Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to strip Trump of his presidential powers by majority consensus of the Cabinet.
That would be the quickest way to deal with the danger Trump poses in his remaining week in office. But Pence appears reluctant to go there, even though rioters were calling for him to be hanged after Trump called his loyal vice president a coward for putting the Constitution above phony vote-fraud conspiracies.
So short of the 25th Amendment being invoked, House leaders say that members will vote on impeachment today — as they should. Unlike the Ukraine scandal that triggered the first impeachment of Trump (he was acquitted by the Republican controlled Senate), this case does not require extensive hearings or questioning of witnesses. The evidence played out in real time on television last week for all of America, and all the world, to see.
In the weeks leading up that day, the 45th president trafficked in lies about being robbed of re-election, stoking powerful sentiments of anger and alienation from a constituency that includes QAnon conspiracists, white supremacists and other violent extremists.
After a ham-fisted attempt to pressure Georgia officials to “find” enough Trump votes to overturn Joe Biden’s victory there, Trump beckoned his followers to Washington last Wednesday (“be there, will be wild”) for a rally on the day Congress was to formally confirm Biden as the next president.
On the Ellipse, Trump exhorted followers with violent imagery to “walk down to the Capitol” and block Biden’s certification as president. “Stop the steal,” Trump urged them. “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
What happened next was predictable.
As Trump retreated to the White House to watch the mayhem on television, thousands of followers — many of them chanting “Stop the steal!” — attacked the domed Capitol, overwhelming police, injuring officers and temporarily disrupting the proceedings in Congress as members fled into hiding.
Five people died, including a woman shot by police and an officer who was hit with a fire extinguisher. Several lawmakers forced into hiding might have contracted COVID-19 in the process.
Could there be any stronger proof that a president whose narcissism and impulsivity know no bounds is a clear and present danger to the United States?
Assuming the House votes today to impeach him for inciting insurrection, the article then goes to the Senate for consideration of conviction and removal from office.
Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina and other Democrats have floated the idea of waiting to transmit the articles to the Senate until Biden is sworn in and the Democrats take control — or even holding off for 100 days so the new president can focus on the pandemic and getting his personnel picks confirmed.
But even a week is too long to wait if the president is as “deranged, unhinged and dangerous” as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says he is.
Though his banishment from Twitter and Facebook has diminished his capacity to incite, Trump remains in charge of the world’s most powerful military and has nearly unfettered power to pardon his allies, and possibly himself, from federal crimes.
If impeachment is worth doing, it’s worth doing immediately, even if the Senate has to interrupt one of its many recesses and return to Washington. Let every member of Congress stand up and be counted.