Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., cleans up debris and personal belongings strewn across the floor of the Rotunda in the early morning hours of Jan. 7, a day after rioters stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., cleans up debris and personal belongings strewn across the floor of the Rotunda in the early morning hours of Jan. 7, a day after rioters stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Editorial: Regardless of outcome, president must be impeached

If only to allow history to record that members of Congress stood up to Trump’s assault on democracy.

By The Herald Editorial Board

Yes, only 10 days remain in the president’s term; as well, he is unlikely to resign, unlikely to be removed by the 25th Amendment, and a second effort to impeach him would almost certainly not find the necessary 66 votes among members of the Senate to convict and remove him from office.

All the same, articles of impeachment should be pursued against President Donald J. Trump, if for the only reason that even the half-measure of the House voting for impeachment would add a second scarlet letter to his coat and allow for an official rebuke of Trump and his words and deeds that led to the violent and deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol and its occupants.

We can cross our fingers in the hope that there is little more damage that Trump can possibly do to the country before Jan. 20 and President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, but history will require the recording of a final and justified reprimand by elected officials for Trump’s part in directing a riotous mob against Congress that succeeded — if only briefly — to “prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States,” the very definition of sedition.

Theses acts of sedition and their threat to the peace and safety of those present in the Capitol will be clear to anyone who watched, listened or read about the events of Jan. 6 — a new day of infamy — in which mobs pushed past Capitol Police and through and over barricades, bashed in windows and doors and broke into the Capitol, its chambers and the offices of members of Congress. While some ambled aimlessly through corridors carrying only flags and signs, others were armed with firearms, bear spray, zip-ties, Molotov cocktails, pipe bombs and sledge hammers.

Friday, more details emerged in two of the deaths from Wednesday’s coup attempt. A woman rioter was shot and killed as she attempted to break into the Speaker’s Lobby in the House Chamber, and a Capitol Police officer died of injuries sustained in the attack. His death is being investigated as a homicide.

In no way was this a legitimate protest. Trump and his mob were not seeking to protect the integrity of the election process. These were the acts of a violent, undemocratic mob attempting to overturn the results of the election and to disenfranchise voters. This was insurrection.

And it was insurrection spurred on by the belief that the rioters were justified in their revolt, driven by their faith in the proclamations of a president and scores of members of Congress that they were correct to distrust what they had been told by election officials from both parties, news sources and the courts.

At a rally blocks away from where Congress had started its work to certify an election that the Trump’s supporters were told had been stolen from them, their leader pointed the mob in the direction of the Capitol with these words:

“We are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,” he said, “and we are probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them — because you will never take back our country with weakness.”

Those who will discount Trump’s responsibility for incitement of the mob should consider the judgment from now-former members of his Cabinet and of at least one Republican congressman:

“There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me,” wrote former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in her resignation letter to President Trump.

From former-Attorney General William Barr, who called Trump’s actions “a betrayal of his office and supporters.”

From H.R. McMaster, Trump’s former national security adviser who said that Trump and other Republican officials had “repeatedly compromised our principles in pursuit of partisan advantage and personal gain.”

And from Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who called the riot an attempted coup and later said: “The president caused this. The president is unfit and the president is unwell, and now the president must relinquish control of the executive branch, voluntarily or involuntarily.”

Trump posted a video Thursday night that was at most a grudging acceptance of Congress’ final vote, not a concession. Trump acknowledged Congress’ certification of the votes that elected Biden, adding that his focus now was on “ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”

But Trump made no admission of error in his insistence since Nov. 4 of baseless allegations of voter and election fraud and attempts to overturn valid elections, nor of his part in the previous day’s violence and the threat to those in the Capitol, including the threat to his own vice president.

“I was fighting to defend American democracy,” he said.

That. That refusal to recognize reality and accept responsibility — whether willful or not — is sufficient reason to impeach the president.

The best that can be hoped for — because of Republican members of Congress who bear their own culpability for fostering unsubstantiated doubts among Trump’s supporters regarding the legitimacy of a free and fair election — is that a Democratic majority in the House will adopt articles of impeachment against Trump and forward them to the Senate.

It will end there, of course.

Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and others are more protective of their standing among Trump’s supporters and their political futures than in the best interests of the nation, and will vote against Trump’s removal from office.

But it will end with history recording that at least some in Congress stood up to an assault on democracy, just as they had done Wednesday night as they returned to the House chambers and voted to recognize the results of the election and honor the will of all voters.

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