Unfit to Serve: Remove Trump Now

Donald Trump is in breach of his oath of office. He should be removed from office immediately, to protect the country and safeguard our democracy.
Donald Trump walks out after speaking at the Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit on December 8, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Donald Trump is in breach of his oath of office. He should be removed from office immediately to protect the country and safeguard our democracy.

President Trump incited a violent insurrection against the U.S. government on Wednesday, in an attempt to remain in office by overturning the will of the people. 

He’s in breach of his oath to defend the Constitution. He’s a danger to the republic. He’s unfit to serve another minute and should be removed from office immediately to protect the country and safeguard our democracy.

This is a day when, if we’re not angry, we don’t understand the situation. If we don’t grasp the threat, we’re not paying attention. And, if we don’t speak up, we’re part of the problem.

It’s a moment, also, to call out the way a thin line of security forces collapsed in the face of a pro-Trump mob running riot in the U.S. Capitol. Compare that to the show of overwhelming force and appalling brutality inflicted against Black Lives Matter demonstrators last summer, and confront the systemic racism that contrast lays bare.

What we saw from Trump on Wednesday was more than the last flailing gasp of a defeated president. It was how tyranny is born, and no functioning democracy can tolerate it.

That’s precisely why the Constitution provides the means to protect the nation from a president who’s not fit to serve. It’s time to do exactly that, through the most expedient means the Constitution provides.

For the past two months, we’ve watched as Trump waged a campaign of propaganda, slander, and straight-up lies in a deliberate effort to undermine public trust in the legitimacy of the free and fair election he lost decisively in November. That’s reprehensible, and it’s done enormous damage that we, as a nation, must now work to overcome. 

He’s badgered, berated, and even threatened state election officials in a blatant attempt to strong-arm them into overturning the results of elections in places like Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—key swing states that Trump lost. That’s antithetical to our democracy, and likely illegal.

On Wednesday, though, Trump raised the temperature in his war against American democracy

As Congress gathered in the Capitol for the solemn business of formally counting the Electoral College votes, Trump stood before thousands of supporters on the National Mall, repeating his baseless claim that the election had been “stolen” and vowing, “We will never give up. We will never concede.”

No matter that the people have spoken, in certified elections he lost by more than 7 million actual votes, and, in the Electoral College, by a margin of 306 to 232. Trump declared himself above the will of the people then dispatched his supporters to Capitol Hill to carry the message to Congress.

We all saw what happened next, when hundreds of Trump’s faithful stormed the Capitol, assaulted security personnel, and ran roughshod through the halls of Congress, forcing the House and Senate into emergency recess as members and staff scrambled to barricade doors with furniture and seek sanctuary at a nearby army base.

Trump supporters broke windows and breached the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to overthrow the results of the 2020 election. Rioters used metal bars and tear gas against the police before police dispersed the crowd.
Credit: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

It took hours for police and military reinforcements to clear the mob and restore order. When it was all over, Trump repeated his false claims about a stolen election, suggesting that justified the assault on the Capitol, in a tweet that resulted in Trump’s social media accounts being shut down by Facebook and Twitter.

There are more questions than answers about much of what happened on Capitol Hill.

Why, for example, weren’t measures taken to secure the Capitol from the threat of a mob assault that Trump has encouraged for months? 

“Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” he tweeted the week before Christmas. “Be there, will be wild!”

On New Year’s Day, Trump reminded his backers of “The BIG Protest Rally,” ending his tweet with “StopTheSteal!”

And who could forget his unprompted admonition during his September presidential debate, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

The collapse of Capitol security allowed hundreds of thugs to plow into the seat of representative government in the United States largely unimpeded. It’s tragic that four died in the melee, but miraculous that more people weren’t injured.

What did hurt, and hurt deeply, was to see the relative ease with which the Trump mob invaded the Capitol, and to contrast that with the brutality inflicted on so many peaceful demonstrators who turned out for Black Lives Matter protests last year to demand racial justice in the wake of police killings of Black people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Demonstrators protest the death of George Floyd, June 3, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd was killed after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.
Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

We watched, all of us, in horror last summer, as unarmed and peaceful demonstrators were beaten with batons, tear-gassed, and fired on with rubber bullets and flash bangs during peaceful demonstrations across the country. We saw people arrested en masse, detained, and even tossed into unmarked vans by federal agents. We watched federal authorities on horseback overrun peaceful demonstrators in Washington’s Lafayette Park so Trump could stage a photo op in front of a church.

In many ways, what happened on Wednesday is rooted in the white privilege Trump has worked to reinforce. 

Looking at a picture of one of Trump’s seditionists nonchalantly carrying a large Confederate flag through the halls of the Capitol on Wednesday called to mind the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, after which Trump averred that there were “very fine people on both sides.”

That was a moment for the president to condemn, in no uncertain terms, the violent and ugly racism behind that hideous tiki-torch rally. It was a moment to make clear to a diverse nation that we are working to dismantle systemic racism, not celebrate it. It was a moment to make clear that the kind of race-based hatred that has bred centuries of inequity and injustice in this country has no place in our society.

What Trump showed with his response is that what we do and say, from positions of influence, matter. 

It matters, also, when we don’t speak out.

What happened Wednesday was the culmination of four long years of divisive and corrosive words and deeds from Trump, actions and rhetoric that have been steadily grinding away at the institutions of our democracy and widening the divisions that threaten to pull the country apart.

Trump, though, hasn’t done this by himself. He’s been aided and abetted by a host of enablers—cabinet officials and White House aides, right-wing TV and radio commentators, and, with few exceptions, the vast majority of Republican leaders who have joined Trump in peddling dangerous and damaging falsehoods or who, in silent acquiescence, have been complicit in his authoritarian and mendacious ways.

At NRDC, we have a long record of working with leaders from both political parties to safeguard the environment, protect public health, and advance equity and justice for everyone. We understand politics. And we appreciate the space democracy allows, and even requires, for healthy discussion, debate, and disagreement.

But when a substantial wing of the Republican Party aligns with Trump around an effort to overturn the results of free and fair elections, that’s not politics. It’s an attack on the foundations of democracy itself.

NRDC has a responsibility, as a group operating in the public interest, to call that out. And we have a duty, as participants in our democracy, to remember the names of those who cowered before Trump and towed his tawdry line when the country needed them to stand up to tyranny. 

What makes democracy more than a suggestion, what gives democracy its meaning and power, is our ability to raise our voices, cast our votes, and hold our leaders to account for what they do, or fail to do, on our behalf. 

Without that, democracy is theater. That’s not what government by the consent of the governed means. That’s not what this country is all about.

We must remember who enabled Trump in his campaign to subvert our democracy, defy our Constitution, and overturn the will of the people. We must hold them to account. And we must remove this dangerous and patently unfit president from office now, before he damages the country one day more.