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OPINION

Impeach Trump

Then arrest him and prosecute him for inciting a riot.

President Donald Trump is seen on a screen as his supporters cheer during a rally on the National Mall on Jan. 6 where he told his supporters, "And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down . . . to the Capitol..."
President Donald Trump is seen on a screen as his supporters cheer during a rally on the National Mall on Jan. 6 where he told his supporters, "And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down . . . to the Capitol..."Samuel Corum/Getty

Impeach him. Do it by unanimous consent. Not tomorrow. Not the next day. Tonight.

The US House of Representatives must send the articles of impeachment to the Senate and expel him. Then disqualify him from ever holding office again.

Once that’s done he can be arrested and charged with sedition and inciting a riot.

This is the only appropriate response to the horror show that has unfolded at the US Capitol today.

Pro-Trump supporters, spurred on by the president’s inflammatory words at a rally earlier Wednesday, launched a terrorist attack against the US government. They have breached police lines, broken through windows, entered the Capitol, and overtaken the building. Protesters waving Confederate flags have been photographed outside the Senate, representing a new and disturbing high-water mark of Southern treason. Rioters roamed freely in the halls of Congress, taking selfies while seated in the speaker of the House’s chair and the rostrum of the US Senate. Guns were drawn on the House floor; tear gas was fired off in the rotunda of the Capitol. Multiple Capitol Police officers have been injured, at least one woman is apparently in critical condition after being shot inside the Capitol, and there are reports of pipe bombs found near the Capitol and at the RNC and DNC.

These are not protests. This is an insurrection, and it’s one that the president made possible. Just hours before this insurrection began, Trump spoke to his supporters on the National Mall and directed them to head to Capitol Hill: “And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down . . . to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

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Later he added, “We will never give up. We will never concede. It will never happen. You don’t concede when there’s death involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore. We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen.” His supporters took his words to heart, and only the most besotted Trump supporter would see this for something other than it is — a call to arms and a call to violence.

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As the violence unfolded, President Law and Order stayed at the White House and offered tepid calls for order, apparently content to let his supporters riot in his name. Later he put out a recorded video complaining once again about a “fraudulent” election that wasn’t fraudulent and calling the armed mobs who invaded the Capitol “special” people. Trump can no more criticize those who love him than he can take responsibility for his own actions.

Even before taking office, this president surrendered any moral claim to the presidency. In office, he has committed innumerable abuses of power and corrupt acts. That such a man could ever hold the nation’s highest office has placed a permanent stain on the presidency and the country.

For too long we have become inured to his loathsome behavior, seemingly content in the belief, at least since Election Day, that he will be leaving the national stage soon. But 14 days is too long to wait. Trump needs to be removed now, before he can inflict even more harm on the nation. Beyond that, a president who instigates violence against a coequal branch of government and tries to steal an election needs to be removed on general principle. There is no room for compromise or accommodation with an elected official who does that.

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Moreover, all those who enabled his madness — Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, Marcia Blackburn and James Lankford; the House members who objected to the certification of Joe Biden’s victory — should be called on to resign their seats. They no longer have a place in public life.

The president-elect spoke in the midst of the violence and reminded us that we need to heal our divisions and move together as one. But that means excising from public life those who have worked so hard to divide us.

Today we must start with the clear and present national security threat at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Trump must be sent packing and it must happen now.


Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.