Trump Must Be Convicted

marc morial
Marc H. Morial President and CEO National Urban League

“The insurgents believed they were doing the duty of their president. They were following his orders. And so they publicized it openly, loudly, proudly … This was months of cultivating a base of people who were violent, praising that violence, and then leading that violence, that rage, straight at our door. By the time he called the cavalry of his thousands of supporters on January 6 at an event he had invited them to, he had every reason to know that they were armed, that they were violent, and that they would actually fight. Make no mistake: the violence was not just foreseeable to President Trump, but the violence was what he deliberately encouraged.”  Stacey Plaskett, Delegate to the House of Representatives, U.S. Virgin Islands

A failure by the Senate to convict Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection would be as vile a stain on our nation as the insurrection itself.

Any outcome other than conviction and disqualification from holding elected office is morally indefensible.

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It has been said again and again, by non-partisan legal scholars as well as members of Trump’s own party: if the behavior that led a murderous mob to invade the U.S. Capitol on January 6th isn’t impeachable, nothing is. Every Senator currently sitting as a juror in Trump’s impeachment trial knows it.  Seven people are dead as a result of Trump’s actions, including a police officer fatally injured while defending the Capitol and two others who took their own lives in the traumatic aftermath.  A woman trying to force her way into the House chamber was fatally shot by an officer protecting members as they huddled for safety. The mob trampled one of their own as they rushed to breach a tunnel entrance to the Capitol. Two other men died during the siege, of a heart attack and a stroke. 

As a family member declared, “The president’s words incited a riot that killed four of his biggest fans.”

As horrifying as the insurrection seemed to most Americans as we watched on January 6, we now know we saw only a small part of the mayhem. House impeachment managers this week have further exposed the chilling extent of the violence and fury Trump unleashed upon the U.S. Congress and Vice President Mike Pence, and how close the insurrectionists came to fulfilling their murderous intent.

As his own supporters roamed the halls of the Capitol searching for Pence, as they constructed an actual gallows and chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” and after he personally had been informed that Pence had fled the  House chamber in fear for his life – Trump ruthlessly tweeted yet another attack on the Vice President. 

Had the mob succeeded in assassinating Pence, as they very nearly did, his blood unquestionably be on Trump’s hands.

The drawn-out, sing-song taunts of insurrectionists as they sought out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were straight out of a horror movie.  Their intent to harm or kill her was so clear to Capitol Police that they rushed her to a secure location outside the Capitol.

“As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was … He was delighted,” Senator Ben Sasse said.

“Donald Trump was clearly enjoying himself as he watched his supporters begin to occupy the Capitol,” former Trump attorney Michael Cohen said. “The President believes he has brought the country to its knees and driven its citizens into armed insurrection on his behalf. The fact that he could foment such violence in his name makes him dizzy with delight.”

Trump’s coldly manipulative words and deeds on the single day of January 6 defy comprehension, but they were preceded by months of deliberate mobilization. Asked to disavow white nationalist extremists at a debate in September, he instead told them to “stand by.”  Fewer than 100 days later, they led the insurrection.

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Many Senators who recognize their clear constitutional and moral duty to convict and disqualify Trump may fear political retribution from those who supported the insurrection. But a re-election that requires pandering to white supremacists and would-be assassins is not a re-election worth seeking.