Press: Only one week left, why impeach him twice?
Two things you can’t dispute. One, last Wednesday’s sacking of the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters was one of the saddest and most shocking days in our history. Two, President Trump, who invited his supporters to Washington on Jan. 6 and showed up in person and urged them to march to the Capitol, is directly responsible for the violence, loss of lives, and destruction of property that followed.
For that reason alone, according to the latest ABC News/Ipsos poll, 56 percent of Americans believe Donald Trump should be removed from office now, before the end of his term. And Democrats seem eager to respond. If Vice President Mike Pence refuses their request to invoke the 25th Amendment, warned Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Democrats will adopt the article of impeachment introduced on Monday, making Trump the only president to have been impeached — twice.
Not so fast, say Republican leaders. While joining Democrats in condemning both the violence and Trump’s role in egging it on, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and several Republican senators strongly oppose a second impeachment, mainly on very practical grounds.
They point out that Donald Trump will be out of the White House in eight days, anyway. So why the rush? Given that timeline, there’s no time to hold impeachment hearings, no opportunity for Trump’s attorneys to make their case, and no chance for the Senate to convene, as the Constitution requires, to conduct its impeachment trial. Since he’ll be out of office by Jan. 20, anyhow, why not just ignore Trump until he’s out of town?
Republican arguments against impeachment are well-thought out and passionately delivered — but dead wrong. For Congress to experience the ransacking of its own home and the disruption of its constitutional duties by a gang of Trump mobsters and then do nothing about it would be a shameful violation of their oath of office “to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Of course, it would be cleaner if the vice president invoked the 25th Amendment. Or if Trump, like Richard Nixon, simply resigned. But if neither of those happen, it doesn’t matter how little time he has left. Donald Trump must be impeached now. For three reasons: because of what he did, what he might do in his remaining days, and what future presidents must know.
What Donald Trump did is downright un-American. For two months he refused to concede defeat, while making baseless claims of voter fraud and declaring the election stolen from him. Then he invited his supporters to Washington on Jan. 6 and urged them to march on and protest at the Capitol, putting the life of his own vice president in danger. As former federal prosecutor and Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) told ABC News, “If inciting to insurrection isn’t (an impeachable offense), then I don’t really know what is.”
What Donald Trump might do in his few days left is scary. He’s capable of anything: starting a war, calling out the military, or encouraging his followers to disrupt the Inauguration. Every day Trump remains in the White House, the American people are at risk.
And what every president must learn from this experience is this: that there are limits to presidential power and that those who threaten the very existence of our democracy, as Donald Trump has, must pay the price. If he does not resign, or if Pence does not trigger the 25th Amendment, impeachment is the only answer. Then, and only then, can the country begin to heal.
Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”