The facts of the case are clear. President Donald J. Trump incited a mob that subsequently attacked the Capitol building where Congress was in session. The attack was designed to intimidate Congress, prevent them performing their Constitutional duty to properly count the electoral votes of all the states, invalidate Biden’s victory, overturn the election and grant Trump a second term. Anyone who doubts this has merely to read the transcript of Trump’s hour long rant in which he urged the crowd to march down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Assuming Trump does not resign in the hours ahead, Speaker Pelosi should, by Tuesday at the latest, put a single article of impeachment on the floor for a vote. That article should accuse Trump of incitement to insurrection. It will pass. The Democratic House would impeach Trump for littering, given the chance.
The argument that there is not enough time for the House to reconvene and vote on a single article of impeachment simply does not hold water. If House members cannot be stirred enough to come back to Washington for a matter of this magnitude, the voters should be made aware of it. Further, the issue does not require a lot of fact finding. We all know what Trump did. His speech inciting the crowd is on television.
There is an argument that Trump’s speech to the crowd was reckless but not sufficiently reckless to give rise to criminal liability. That argument rests on the difficulty, if not impossibility of (1) proving criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt, and (2) the first amendment protection of speech. These arguments are both correct and irrelevant.
Impeachment requires the commission of High Crimes and Misdemeanors. But those High Crimes and Misdemeanors should not be understood to require a violation of a criminal statute. Referring to impeachment Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist 65, “The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust, …”. What President Trump did was precisely that.
If it so desired, the House could surely report out an article of impeachment by Thursday, January 14. That would give the Senate several days to debate and then vote on the proposition. That would provide two immense benefits. First, and most importantly, it would put each Senator on record. Second, if successful, it would prevent Trump from ever holding office again.
The importance of holding Trump to account for his behavior cannot be overemphasized. By inciting the crowd to riot, he is not only at least indirectly responsible for the deaths of at least 5 people; he also provoked an attack on the foundations of the Republic and constitutional governance. This from a man who took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Trump incited a mob to attack Congress when it was fulfilling its constitutional duties in order to overturn an election, an election Trump lost. In so doing he launched a full fledged attack on the lawful foundations of our constitutional republic. If that is not sufficient to require removal from office, then nothing is.