As the nation recoils from President Donald Trump’s assault on its people and foundations of democracy, the country needs a police officer. We have only Congress.
The only Americans trying to throw doubt on the fact that Trump incited his raging, unstable and uncontrolled mob to storm the U.S. Capitol last week, are fellow radicals or the politicians who fear their wrath.
Among the unbalanced in Congress is Colorado Congressperson Lauren Boebert, who has become a beacon for Trump zealots. Boebert must face her own consequences for her passionate role in last week’s seditious siege.
Colorado Congressperson Ken Buck called last week’s murderous marauders “knuckleheads” in an effort to downplay the grave danger and violence Trump’s mob inflicted on the Capitol and nation.
Beyond those two prominent, remaining elected Colorado Republicans, only a handful of Twitter trolls and Trump-cult state GOP legislators have failed to recognize the calamity Trump inflicted on the United States.
Even Congressperson Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, one of Trump’s most loyal sycophants, has relatively stepped back from the president since the insurrection.
Democrats and Republicans alike saw for themselves how dangerous Trump is while he wields the power of the presidency and control of an army of unhinged insurgents.
A growing number of Republicans are making public their shock from discovering that some of these Trump zealots carried bombs into the Capitol. Two trucks filled with explosives have been identified and a credible plot for Trump insurrectionists to surround the U.S. Capitol next week has been made public.
The best solution so far to protect the nation would have been for Vice President Mike Pence to compel members of Trump’s cabinet to remove the president from power for the remaining few days of his term, using a clause in the 25th Amendment.
The evidence that Trump is so mentally unstable and willing to act on his seditious impulses is undeniable. The entire world witnessed it as it unfolded last week. There is grave risk for all of us in only hoping that Trump doesn’t try it again.
“We love you. You’re very special. Go home,” Trump told mob rioters in a video even as they looted and terrorized the Capitol.
There is, however, no other immediate way to remove him from power, and Trump will not resign.
Given the vice president has shown unfailing loyalty to Trump, going along with a catalogue of crimes and indiscretions up to this point, there’s no reason to believe he will act to remove Trump now. On Tuesday, he publicly refused to act on Trump’s insurrection.
The priority for Congress is to prevent Trump from further endangering the nation before noon next Wednesday, and impeachment won’t do that.
House Democrats can realistically rush through and approve an impeachment argument, and there’s no doubt some Republicans will join them. It is, however, virtually impossible that Trump would be convicted and removed by the Senate — ever — and certainly not immediately.
It is indisputable that Trump warrants impeachment and conviction for the crime against the nation he committed last week. But seeking that impeachment will distract Congress from working to protect us from Trump until he’s gone from office, and even after.
Some members of Congress have suggested other parts of the Constitution provide better remedies.
The suggestion that Congress reach back to the Civil War era and the 14th Amendment is a possible answer.
An arcane clause allows for a majority of both houses to convict elected officials of having taken part in seditious acts and banning them from public office.
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office…shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.
Metropolitan State University of Denver Political Science Department Chairperson Robert Preuhs said the clause was created during the Reconstruction to keep loyal confederates out of positions of power as the states and their governments were recreated.
It’s hardly a guarantee that invoking the clause would be successful, Preuhs said. There were few cases of it being used and no relevant case law that would preclude a nearly guaranteed lawsuit by Trump or his supporters.
Most importantly, it would not remove Trump from power. But it would provide a punitive option, one that could effectively prevent him from running for president again.
A censure by either or both houses would provide scorn, Pruehs said, but it would not stop Trump from running for another term.
“The problem is, all of this is completely unprecedented,” Pruehs said. Our republic depends on people by and large adhering to the historical rules and protocols of the government. The United States creators didn’t anticipate anything like Trump or those who act like him.
“It’s just not clear” that any action taken by Congress, short of invocation of the 25th Amendment, or Trump’s resignation, could realistically yank away the wheel of the nation for the remaining days of Trump’s term, or prevent him from running again, Pruehs said.
He and other scholars agree that legal arguments can be made that a Senate impeachment conviction might or might not preclude another run for office.
Given that, Colorado’s delegation should support the effort to persuade Pence to act to remove Trump from office. And the Colorado members of the House should join others in voting against moving an impeachment this week to the Senate, where it is certain to be consuming and ultimately fail.
Instead, members of Congress, especially Republicans, should work publicly to head off any other effort by Trump to incite violence, sedition or insurrection.
The House and Senate should agree to use both alternative Constitutional options to bring Trump to justice for his deadly, dangerous criminal acts.
It’s unthinkable a president would commit such an atrocity and even more appalling to allow him to get away with it. Congress, however, must seek effective, realistic solutions to hold Trump accountable and protect the nation, and impeachment this week won’t do either.