Letter to the editor: We must impeach, convict and disqualify Trump
Americans are deeply shocked by the attack on American democracy that occurred in Washington DC on Jan. 6. It was a horrific sight to see armed terrorists swarm up the walls and steps of the United States Capitol, break down doors and windows, and enter the symbolic heart of our democracy while chanting murderous slogans. This was an insurrection, a direct attack on the principles that have guided this country since its founding nearly 250 years ago.
Stunned Americans are wondering: “How do we repair our damaged democracy?”
A starting point is to recognize that the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, was directly instigated by the sitting president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Having spent the last five years actively undermining respect among Americans for the democratic process, and having stated repeatedly that he would not accept the validity of the election if he did not win, the president took matters into his own hands. As an unruly crowd gathered in front of the White House, Trump appeared before them and told them “We’ve gotta get rid of the weak Congress people, the ones that aren’t any good.” And then the crowd marched to the Capitol, and the whole world witnessed the results.
President Trump is directly responsible for inciting the riot that followed, and he must be held accountable. His behavior was an attempt to subvert the will of the people of this country and to extend his hold on office through illegal means. He is responsible for unleashing terrorists who were bent on interrupting the constitutionally mandated process of certifying the election of the next president, Joseph R. Biden. His statements that the election was “stolen” or “rigged” are blatantly false.
Donald Trump must be removed from office immediately.
Vice President Mike Pence has made clear that he will not invoke the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to remove the president. However, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has already signaled that she will introduce Articles of Impeachment, approval of which requires a simple majority of sitting House members.
Obtaining a conviction in the Senate is more difficult because it requires a two-thirds majority in a closely divided chamber, but there may be Republicans who are willing to break with the president after the egregious transgressions of the past week. Pressure must be put on Senator Mitch McConnell to call the Senate into session to act quickly to convict after the House impeaches.
If McConnell declines to proceed, the responsibility moves to the in-coming Senate Majority Leader. When the Senate reconvenes after the inauguration on Jan. 20, Democrats will be in control. Chuck Schumer will be Majority Leader and will have the authority to accept and act on the Articles of Impeachment. This action is still possible even after the end of Trump’s term, according to a recent article in the New York Times.
Proceeding with the impeachment process after Trump is no longer in office is important because it makes possible the third step in the process — disqualification of Trump from holding any future office or position of trust. Once the president has been impeached and convicted the Senate may proceed with disqualification, which requires only a simple majority for approval.
Completion of this process — Impeach, Convict, and Disqualify — will remove the threat of ever having Donald Trump wield power to advance his anti-democratic agenda. More importantly, it will firmly establish that the U.S. Congress is dedicated to the rule of law, to following the will of the people as expressed in free and fair elections, and to the democratic ideals upon which this country was founded.
To his credit our own Governor Scott was the first Republican governor to call for Trump’s immediate removal from office. Vermonters should thank him and ask him to continue speaking out on this issue. We must also lend our support to our federal officials, Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, and Representative Welch, as well as to the leaders of the U.S. House and Senate as they work to pursue the course outlined above — Impeach, Convict, and Disqualify. The survival of our democratic republic is at stake.
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