trump’s attempted coup – Day 5
January 7 – Insurrection
A violent mob of Donald Trump supporters, urged to action by Trump himself, Wednesday attacked the United States Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from tallying the certified Electoral College votes declaring Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris the next president and vice-president of the United States.
In that, they failed.
But for hours they laid siege to the seat of the American government, marauding through the halls, vandalizing offices, occupying the chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and preventing the members from attending to the business of the day. Before the insurrection was quelled, shots had been fired inside the Capitol and on the grounds, tear gas and flash bangs had been utilized, and four people had died.
These were events we have witnessed many times before. But always in other countries. The last and only other time the Capitol was under fire was during the War of 1812. The British were the attackers. They burned the building.
No Federal Response
The mob blew past the Capitol Police like a hot knife runs through butter. Soft butter. How that happened is unclear. It certainly was not for lack of warning. Since the election on November 3rd, Donald Trump has been falsely claiming he had won and calling his acolytes to come to Washington January 6 for a massive rally.
Wild it was. On Wednesday Trump addressed the crowd, first repeating his lies about a fraudulent election stealing from him a great victory, and then:
“And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down … to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women…. And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
Many of the rioters thought Trump was walking to the Capitol with them. Of course the coward-in-chief had returned to the White House and hunkered down in safety, leaving his followers to face down the police alone. It wasn’t hard, the Capitol Police quickly gave way and let the mob pass. Were they a small force generally trained for crowd control that was overwhelmed? Or where they ordered to stand down by Trump supporters in their ranks? While some clearly put their lives on the line to protect the members under their care, others posed for selfies with the members of the mob. Certainly Nancy Pelosi will order a major investigation, and possibly a major housecleaning.
But where was the federal response? When Trump wanted to stage a photo-op in Layfette Square last summer and wanted to have peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrators moved out of the way, the federal government routed the protestors with an iron fist. The Park Police, special tactics forces from Customs and Border Patrol, the FBI, the Attorney General, the Director of Homeland Security and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with attack helicopters from the National Guard all came down on the protestors who were detained and hauled off in buses.
None of these forces came to the aide of the Capitol Police and there are reports that Trump himself blocked their deployment. When the Capitol was finally secured, well after sunset, it was with the help of the local District of Columbia Police assisted by state police and national guard forces from Virginia and Maryland, deployed by the governors of those states at the request of the DC government. Most of the insurrectionists driven out of the Capitol were allowed to depart without arrest.
Why? Another question for the post mortem. Of course, the BLM demonstrators were mostly Black. The Trump insurrectionists mostly White.
The Sedition Caucus
None of this would have happened without the cooperation of the Republicans making up that is now known as the sedition caucus. They are the Trump loyalists who turned what was supposed to be a ceremonial function of the Congress into still another challenge to the election results. These results have already been reviewed, challenged and audited by all fifty states and the District of Columbia and certified to be valid. These results have been challenged in court by more than sixty lawsuits and not a single one has been found to have any validity. But that didn’t stop Republican Senators led by Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley to force the House and Senate into a lengthy debate on the validity of the returns, even though Congress has no legal basis to reject them.
Mitch McConnell, yes, the soon-to-be senate minority leader of who I have been harshly critical, did rise to the occasion to oppose objections to the ballots, saying they would “damage our republic forever.” So did Mitt Romney, who gave an impassioned speech on the impact of the seditious attack on democracy, calling it “an insurrection incited by the President.” Even Lindsey Graham, who said, disappointed as he was, that Trump had lost and enough was enough. On the House side, more than 140 Republicans challenged the validity of the election results and the debate became so heated some members came close to exchanging blows on the floor of the chamber.
Just before 4am Thursday morning, Congress completed its work and proclaimed the Biden-Harris victory official. They will be sworn into office on January 20th, just as the Constitution requires.
There is a lot of cleanup facing President Biden and the Democrat-controlled Congress in the months ahead. Those who formed the mob need to be tracked down and prosecuted. They left plenty of pictures behind and the FBI has already asked for help in their identification. The police response, and the lack thereof needs to be investigated. And while Congress seems today to be trying to assume a business-as-usual; stance, business cannot be conducted as usual.
What to do with Donald Trump? Many fear what he may do in the 13 days remaining in his term in office. There is talk of invoking the 25th Amendment, declaring Trump incapacitated and installing Mike Pence as acting president. Today several social media sites banned Trump at least for the remainder of his term. If they can act, why can’t the Vice-President and the cabinet? It is frightening to think Trump is considered unfit to have a Facebook account while he still has the nuclear codes.
The images of yesterday were frightening and will forever stain our democracy. We must demonstrate to the world, and to ourselves, that our values remain intact. After four years of destructive activity by Donald Trump, that will not be easy. How do we convince the 74 million people who voted for his reelection to accept that he lost? We must start by holding responsible those pollical leaders who chose sedition over democracy. We cannot forget.
Links to previous entries in this series….