Donald Trump has incited a mob to invade the Capitol, resulting in the deaths of one Capitol police officer, one demonstrator, and three other people who appear to have died from “natural causes” such as a heart attack. All five would still be alive if it were not for Donald Trump and the mob riot he incited.
If any person other than the President of the United States had incited such a riot, with such consequences, he or she would by now have been arrested and put in jail.
Yet Donald Trump is no ordinary criminal. As long as he occupies the office of President of the United States, he poses a uniquely dangerous threat to the country and to American democracy.
Notwithstanding the statement he read recently referring to an orderly transfer of power on January 20, 2021 (which also contained a repitition of the “big lie” that he won the November election and which appeared to praise the rioters), he continues to instigate his followers to further violence, and has not renounced by actions his ongoing efforts to overthrow the election results and the Constitution of the United States.
He is engaged in an “auto-coup” or “self coup” or “auto-golpe”, or in plain language, a “coup d’état” or “Staatsstreich”.
Intellectual pundits may debate whether he is engaged in a true “coup d’état”, as if their intellectual distinctions were relevant here. They and their distinctions are irrelevant, when what counts is who has the guns and the power, and what they are doing with them.
Those who have observed other coups in other times and places understand precisely what is relevant to the defense of our democracy.
There are also those who argue that the niceties of constitutional government must be observed in seeking to counter forces that are operating outside of the Constitution and seeking to overthrow it. In a raw struggle for power in which the future of the Constitution and democratic government it itself at issue, they are both correct in their instincts and mistaken in the extreme case. We are living through the extreme case at this minute, and will be until Trump is removed from or otherwise leaves power.
In the extreme case, it does not make sense to try to ensure that every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted. While every effort should be made to act within the Constitution, it would be a grave error to insist on formalities that would delay decisive action that might save it, while delay might lead to its overthrow and to disaster.
Again, this is not an intellectual argument we shiuld engage in while, at least figuratively, tanks are on the move.
Trump is a criminal who is armed and dangerous, and on the loose.
He should be removed from office immediately.
House Democrats should not get cute with their impeachment plans, and falter in the effort to actually remove him from power. There is talk that they may impeach him by the middle of next week, but delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
Their goal should be to impeach him at the earliest possible moment, in order to secure his removal from office at the earliest possible moment.
That means they should immediately transmit the approved articles of impeachment to the Senate, and should even this weekend constitute the team that will prosecute the case in the Senate. That is their constitutional duty, “to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States”.
At this moment, all Representatives and Senators need to put aside any and all political considerations and act swiftly, without hesitation, and decisively to remove Trump from office.
The question remains of when Trump should be arrested.
If his actions reveal a clear and irrevocable intent to desist from his ongoing attempted coup d”état, if he desists from repeating the “big lie” that he won the election–itself, in these circumstances, an incitation to further violence–the question of his arrest may be left until after January 20, 2021.
If he engages in any actions to further his ongoing attempted coup, he should be immediately arrested and brought before a judge.
In any event, an order for his arrest should be issued, in order to prevent him from fleeing the country.
How and when he should be arrested, if before noon on January 20, 2021, is a delicate issue which all potential actors should now consider on an emergency basis.
The Trenchant Observer