It’s 13 days until the inauguration—at least, we hope it’s 13 days—and it is clear now that we can’t take them. We can’t wait. Donald Trump does not want a peaceful transfer of power? Fine. He must be impeached, again, and removed from office by Monday.
Impossible? No. It’s not impossible at all. The House can pound out a couple articles and vote on them fast. They can move it to the Senate. Mitch McConnell can apparently set whatever rules about the trial he wants. The Senate must notify the Chief Justice. He must arrive at 1 p.m. the next day. There are a few other ceremonial requirements like that that may take some time. But, as Lawfare blog detailed at the time of Trump’s first impeachment, “where things turn substantive, they also turn vague, putting a great many important questions in the hands of the chief justice and whatever constellation of at least 51 senators can get together in coalition on any given matter.” In other words, they can do it in two days if they want to.
The big question of course is whether two-thirds of the Senate would vote to convict. During the Ukraine impeachment, it was a foregone conclusion that this wouldn’t happen. But now? We have 29 GOP senators who’d already announced they plan to vote to certify Joe Biden’s electors—in other words, to defy Trump’s putsch. Kelly Loeffler, of all people, joined them Wednesday evening when the Senate finally reconvened, saying that she wouldn’t vote to decertify after all following the day’s Trump incited madness. Well, if that’s their position, then they should have the guts to vote to remove Trump from office after what they just saw.
And not just remove him—once impeached, a federal office holder can be barred from ever holding federal office again. That’s the real reason. Do they really want to go through again in 2024 what Trump dragged them through in 2016?
The other alternative is the 25th Amendment. Remarkably, the conservative National Association of Manufacturers called on Mike Pence to put the 25th Amendment machinery in motion. Who knows what his Cabinet members will do. News popped Tuesday night that some Cabinet secretaries are actually considering it. We’ll see. As cowardly as Republican senators have been, I actually think impeachment is more likely.
That last sentence was about political calculation, and it’s appalling that political calculation is even a consideration anymore. The man led an insurrection on our most sacred civic building, on a separate and equal branch of government at the moment it had begun conducting the people’s business. He is beyond out of control. He is restrained by nothing. He’ll try the same thing tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.
The sickest and most humiliating thing about this sick and humiliating day in American history? Trump enjoyed it. Loved every second of it. They stormed Congress for me! They’d never do that for Sleepy Joe! Undoubtedly he even loved that a woman died for him. That’s what he wants them to do. Thousands of them already have anyway, of COVID.
There is no excuse for anyone who has the slightest power to remove him from office before Jan. 20 not to make every effort to do so. Nothing is hypothetical anymore. Twitter has blocked him, finally, but he’s the president; he has ways to communicate with his people. What if this continues? As you no doubt saw, some state capitols were stormed. What if this spreads? What if they start shooting?
And what if they try to delay Joe Biden’s inauguration? Think about that. Presidents have been inaugurated on schedule—originally in March, and on Jan. 20 since 1937—since the beginning of the republic (actually Washington’s first inauguration was delayed a bit—for weather). Delay is now a real risk. Even worse, disruption is a possibility. The only way to ensure that they’re not is to act.
If you think I’m being dramatic, shift with me into this thought experiment. It is, as you read these words, perhaps Thursday morning. What is Donald Trump thinking right now? Does he feel remorse? Is he contemplating his responsibility to democracy? Did he pick a copy of Madison’s Notes on the Convention off the shelf?
Or is he watching OANN and still stewing about the “stolen” election? Calling Rudy and Sidney and Cleta and every other enabling sycophant, detailing yet again to them the story of how Hugo Chavez’s nephew replaced the innards of the Fulton County machines? And most of all, thinking of how to delay the inauguration and get himself re-anointed?
You know damn well what he’s thinking. And the only lesson he learned from today, Susan Collins? Violence works. It fucks things up. It...delays the ceremonial machinery of government. A-haaaaa…
We’re past the point where calculations are remotely defensible. Congressional Republicans who still care about the country must oust Trump. We may skate through 13 more days with him in power. But every day is a risk. We have a conscience-less president and people who will kill and die for him. Today, we think Jan. 6 is a day that will live in infamy. By Jan. 20, it may have been topped four or five times. Maybe not. But shall we take that chance?