Make no mistake: The surreal scene at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday that temporarily shut down the Electoral College vote count and led to at least one death was directly brought on by Donald Trump. He’s responsible for every critically injured person, every terrorized police officer and every single broken window caused by the violent mob of his so-called supporters. The president of the United States incited this riot.
He did it over years, sowing doubt in every institution our country holds dear, including our national security agencies, which he undermined as part of some phony “deep state” conspiracy; our research facilities, whose critical recommendations on climate change and medical best practices he dismissed as overblown; and our news organizations, whose watchdog work he repeatedly challenged as “fake” because it exposed his faults.
He did it over months, spreading lies and fear about his political opponents on the campaign trail, falsely claiming Democrats on the whole — and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in particular — are socialists looking to implement universal abortion access, throw open the borders and storm into homes on the hunt for legally owned guns.
He did it over weeks, raising absolutely untrue claims of fraud over his election loss, again and again, and threatening others to back him in his fiction or face consequences.
He did it over days, calling on state officials to falsify their vote counts to reverse the legitimate results of an American presidential election.
And he did it over hours, delivering an appalling speech just south of the White House to the whipped up crowd Wednesday — the final shove they needed to unleash chaos on the capital.
“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical Democrats,” he goaded, lighting the fire. “We will never give up. We will never concede. It will never happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.”
Moments after his speech, the rally goers moved to the Capitol steps, and when they finally breached the building around 2 p.m., Donald Trump made sure they had a target: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,” he tweeted as the rioting began, “giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!“
Donald Trump put the vice president’s life in danger with his propaganda. He endangered every member of Congress in that building, every single staff worker, and each person on the security team. He endangered his supporters on the outside and the police trying to keep the peace among them.
And he did almost nothing to stop it, issuing in the immediate aftermath two pathetic tweets urging support for police and asking people to “remain peaceful” and a 1-minute video reiterating his lies about a stolen election. “Go home, we love you, you’re very special,” he told the mob. “I know how you feel, but go home, and go home in peace.”
You’re very special?
This man must go. Right now. Two more weeks of him is too much.
Before he endangers one more American life, Donald Trump must be removed from office. Whether that’s through his Cabinet invoking the 25th amendment or an emergency House hearing to impeach him followed by a Senate vote, we don’t much care — whichever is faster.
He’s made a mockery of our laws, our values and our standing in the world throughout his term, but today is the last straw. Our Capitol building was overtaken because of him. A woman was killed. The National Guards of D.C., Maryland and Virginia were activated.
We cannot wait until President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20th inauguration to get this volatile menace out of the White House. And simply cutting him out of decision making to the extent possible is not enough. Donald Trump will continue to wreak havoc until he’s taken from power.
And once he is, every single member of his party — including the traitorous dozens who rejected the rightful Electoral College vote count Wednesday — must stand up and repudiate his phony claims about a rigged election and ensure he has no future as a cult leader out of office. Each of them bears responsibility for this mess and their part in furthering it. It’s time to put an end to the madness.
The Baltimore Sun editorial board — made up of Opinion Editor Tricia Bishop, Deputy Editor Andrea K. McDaniels and writer Peter Jensen — offers opinions and analysis on news and issues relevant to readers. It is separate from the newsroom.