The House Defended our Democracy—Now the Senate Must Do the Same

The Senate should convene immediately and vote to remove this manifestly unfit man from office.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi walking to the House floor during a vote on the impeachment of President Donald Trump, January 13, 2021

Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

One argument some made for not impeaching President Trump is that he’s on his way out the door and will be gone in a week.

There's an even better reason, though, to impeach him: to defend our democracy—not for a few days, but for all time.

That’s exactly what the House rightly did on Wednesday. The Senate should convene immediately and vote to remove this manifestly unfit man from office without delay, before he can do even more of the harm he’s proven he can do.

Trump has tried, in plain view, to overturn the will of the people. He took a shot at the heart of our democracy.

For too long, it’s been taken as an article of faith that American democracy is strong enough to resist this kind of attack. Up until now, it has.

Democracy, though, is fragile, and there are those who would exploit its weaknesses for no higher purpose than rank partisanship or personal gain. Worse, some would use violence to do so.

That’s why protecting democracy requires consequences for those who place it in peril. That’s not revenge, it’s justice. It’s about defending self-governance from tyranny and terror. Yesterday’s impeachment was about protecting democracy from the president of the United States.

“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, shortly before her fellow Democrats, joined by 10 Republicans, voted to impeach Trump, 232 to 197. “It gives me no pleasure to say this,” Pelosi stressed. “It breaks my heart.”

Trump’s actions endangered the nation.

“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government,” states the article of impeachment the House approved. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government. He thereby betrayed his trust as president, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

Finally, the article concludes, “he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”

It was a week ago Wednesday that Trump incited a violent insurrection against the United States government, in an effort to overturn free and fair elections so he could cling to power.

“We will stop the steal,” an angry Trump told thousands of supporters gathered at the foot of the Washington Monument on the National Mall, repeating the big lie he’s been telling since his decisive November loss.

Now, “we’re stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot, and we have to live with that for four more years. We’re just not going to let that happen,” Trump vowed, before directing the crowd to march their grievance up to Capitol Hill.

Pro-Trump rioters followed his rant by sacking the seat of representative government in America, disrupting the formal counting of the Electoral College votes, and sending Congress scrambling for cover from a melee that left five people dead.

Openly inciting armed rebellion against our government was not Trump’s first attack on our democracy. It was the culmination of a campaign he’s waged for months to discredit, delegitimize, and ultimately discard the results of an election that every credible authority has certified to have been free and fair. It follows the larger anti-democracy pattern he has displayed since launching his candidacy in 2015, in keeping with his penchant for demonizing his opponents, even to the point of hounding President Obama about his birth certificate.

Since losing the election decisively to President-elect Joe Biden, Trump has fed his supporters a steady diet of lies, claiming he won an election he actually lost by more than 7 million votes and, in the Electoral College, by a margin of 306 to 232.

The National Association of Secretaries of State—the offices that oversee state elections—joined the federal agency responsible for cybersecurity and infrastructure to declare the November elections “the most secure in American history,” adding that “there was no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

In the face of Trump’s campaign to mislead the American public, the same federal agency took the added step of posting on its website an authoritative and soundly sourced rebuttal of 23 false claims Trump and his supporters have made about alleged election irregularities.

More than 80 separate judges have thrown out election challenges from Team Trump in more than 50 separate cases because there’s no credible evidence to support his false claim that he was robbed.

Trump’s lies have radicalized a broad base of his supporters. Even now, police, federal agents, National Guard units, and other security forces are gathering to protect Washington and state capitals from threats of widespread violence by Trump supporters in the lead-up to Biden’s January 20 inauguration.

Trump is the only U.S. president in history to be impeached twice. The House impeached him a year ago for abusing his office by trying to bribe the government of Ukraine into smearing Biden.

The Senate voted then not to remove Trump from office. That was a mistake, and the country has paid the price.

Now, once more, the House has held Trump to account. It’s time for the Senate to follow suit, for the sake of our democracy.

A foul committed in the final minutes of the game can still be just cause for ejection; to do otherwise would send the message that rules can be broken when the clock is winding down. A drunk behind the wheel is a danger to others even in the last few miles before home. And a president who incites violent insurrection against our government is a threat every hour he remains in office.

Each member of Congress swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. It’s time for the Senate to stand by that vow. Protect our democracy today, and send a message that defends it tomorrow, by removing Trump from office now.

About the Authors

Mitchell Bernard

President and Chief Counsel

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