Congress must fulfill its duty and ensure last week's events never happen again
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For many years, I have been deeply concerned about Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMcCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden Biden, Trudeau agree to meet next month Trump planned to oust acting AG to overturn Georgia election results: report MORE’s abuses of power, coddling of white nationalists, and undermining of American democracy. After he showed support for the white nationalists who marched in Charlottesville, resulting in mayhem and a loss of life, I determined that he was unfit to be president and potentially dangerous, so I introduced Articles of Impeachment.

Our democracy requires a president committed to the principles of self-government and the rule of law and who diligently pursues the public interest. Our nation experienced the alternative: a petulant and destructive president who uses his official power and prestige of the office to undermine the will of the people and incite an angry mob to forcibly prevent Congress from certifying the election he lost.

Jan. 6, 2021 was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. Donald Trump poses a clear and present danger to our democracy and the American people. He must be removed immediately.

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I joined my Judiciary Committee colleagues in calling on Vice President Pence to convene the Cabinet to remove Donald Trump from office using the procedures in the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. I have joined many of my colleagues in introducing a new Article of Impeachment that would both remove Donald Trump from office and disqualify him from ever holding public office again. Perhaps Congress should have removed him from office after his statement concerning white nationalists in Charlottesville, his use of his office for his personal financial benefit which is a violation of the Constitution, or his obstruction of the investigation into 2016 election interference. Perhaps we should have removed him when he usurped Congress’s spending authority to build his wall, pressured Ukraine to interfere in our elections, offered his corrupt self-dealing pardons, or, recently, when he threatened the prosecution of Georgia’s Secretary of State should he not change the election results so Donald Trump would win by one vote. But clearly, after inciting this seditious riot, we cannot go another minute with Donald Trump in the White House. Donald Trump does not learn from his mistakes and waiting for something else to happen just gives license for more harm.

As long as Donald Trump holds the powers of the United States presidency, he poses real and immediate threats to American democracy and world peace. One threat, the abuse of which would subvert the rule of law and permanently damage our democracy, is the pardon power. Donald Trump has already expressed interest in pardoning himself and his family members. He has already pardoned some of his co-conspirators in the obstruction of the Mueller investigation. All the ways Donald Trump could use this power to undermine our system of justice are bound only by creativity and egomania. For example, as our law enforcement continue to identify those who violently stormed the Capitol, an event in which five people died, including a Capitol Police officer, Donald Trump could simply pardon their conduct and wipe away any federal criminal culpability. His pardons would be an endorsement of the attempted coup.

This scenario may seem outlandish, but just four years ago, who would have thought a sitting president would incite such violent sedition? Part of the conversation must be to reform the pardon power.

Similarly, we must acknowledge this incident is because of the antiquated and undemocratic Electoral College system. The entire point of this riot was to disrupt Congress’s pro forma duty to count and certify the election results. Donald Trump and his allies made no secret of their intent to stop the count and to disqualify state results so that Republican state legislatures could substitute electors and effectively overturn the will of the people.

Last week proved the Electoral College is not just anachronistic and weighs some citizens’ votes more than others, but that it is also dangerous. This week, I introduced a Constitutional Amendment to elect the president by the popular national vote. In 1913, we amended our Constitution to enable citizens to directly elect U.S. senators. More than 100 years later, we should do the same for president and vice president. If there is to be a productive outcome from Wednesday’s assault on our democracy, let it be that our democracy proved its resiliency and that Congress acted to further strengthen it.

With an unstable, isolated, and autocratic president, our next few days may be perilous. Congress must rise to the occasion and fulfill the oaths we just took last week to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and ensure this can never happen again.

Congressman Cohen, the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, represents Tennessee’s Ninth Congressional District.