As Donald Trump’s second impeachment begins in Washington, Republicans are predictably experiencing short term memory loss; their immediate outrage at being targeted on January 6th has now cooled, and they are debating the necessity and the constitutionality of impeaching a former President. Republican Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky concisely expressed the GOP consensus. Impeachment, Senator Paul remarked, was “dead on arrival” in the Senate. Across the aisle, however, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer holds a different view: “The president of the United States incited a violent mob against the duly elected government of the United States in a vicious, depraved and desperate attempt to remain in power. For the sake of our democracy, it cannot and must not be tolerated, excused, or go unpunished.” That being said, it’s unlikely Republicans will convict Trump, and whether earning the disgraceful distinction of being the only United States President to date to be impeached twice is punishment enough for allegedly inciting insurrection remains to be seen.
While Donald Trump shoulders much of the responsibility for stirring anti-government sentiment while attempting to overturn the results of a legitimate election, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Donald Trump should not stand alone in this. His cohorts, too, “incited a violent mob against the government.” Donald Trump, Jr. stood before a frenzied crowd of his father’s supporters on January 6th and declared, “this is Donald Trump’s Republic!” (Apparently, Trump, Jr. does not comprehend the definition of “Republic.” The power in a Republic belongs to the people who duly elect a president, not to any one individual who fancies himself a supreme leader.) The extensive cast of characters promoting “stop the steal” or inciting the January 6th insurrection is extensive: Rudy Giuliani, Don, Jr., Eric, and Ivanka Trump, U.S. Representative Mo Brooks, Senator Ted Cruz, talking head Sean Hannity, and more. The number of Republicans on the wrong side of right and justice is appalling. Who, if not our government officials, will speak for Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed defending the Capital? Who will speak for Ashli Babbitt, who answered the call for “revolution” by storming the Capital and losing her life? Who will stand up for the 140 officers injured during the violence on January 6th? How do these officers, some with cracked ribs, others with brain or serious spinal injuries, feel when the very people whose lives they protected now downplay the insurgence? Refusing to acknowledge the January 6th insurrection as an attempted coup and overlooking the culpability of those who had even an indirect hand in it is a direct insult to these brave public servants and to our very democracy.
You may disagree. You may support the unconstitutionality of Donald Trump’s second impeachment, and you may believe him to be protected by the First Amendment. That is your prerogative. I am neither a constitutional scholar nor a lawyer, but if I had been hiding in the Capital in fear of my life as armed, self-proclaimed revolutionaries charged through the halls, erected gallows in hopes of hanging my colleague, and beat and tear gassed the police, if rioters defaced my house, murdered a man, and injured many more, if the individual I worked for did not move to secure my safety during a violent insurrection, I’d want a complete, no-stone-unturned investigation. I’d want justice and accountability. That accountability for the insurrection is now bogged down in typical political power plays is shameful, but par for the course.
Nothing in life, of course, is simple. Nothing is cut and dried or purely black or white. But in this case, in my opinion, what should be done (but likely won’t be) is pretty clear. As Republican Senator Mitch Romney said, “If inciting insurrection isn’t impeachable, what is?”