Republicans help bend arc of history

At Wednesday's impeachment hearings, Republicans were as harsh as critics of President Donald Trump as Democrats

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Editorials

January 14, 2021 - 10:55 AM

Members of the National Guard arrive on Capitol Hill during the Impeachment debate and vote in Washington on January 13, 2021. Photo by (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

President Donald Trump “crossed the line” for many Republicans last week when he egged on supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol.

Though they may appreciate his policies, say on immigration or tax cuts, the president went too far when he whipped up supporters to “stop the steal” for what he has maintained is a rigged election.

The march to the Capitol turned into a violent insurgency. People died. Democracy was threatened.

As such, the House of Representatives was right to impeach the president. 

Significant in Wednesday’s 232-197 tally is that 10 Republicans voted for impeachment and many times more laid the blame of last week’s violence squarely at the president’s feet.

Though he did not vote to impeach, Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the House Minority Leader, made three important points in his speech.

1. “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” 

2. “Joe Biden will be sworn in as the president of the United States in one week because he won the election.”

3. “Some say the riots were caused by Antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that and conservatives should be the first to say so.”

McCarthy also encouraged the president to try on some honesty, humility and penance.

THE ADVICE fell on deaf ears. On Wednesday evening, the president said the hearing was a “witch hunt.”

In truth, the president did all the heavy lifting by merely standing before the world claiming that the election had been stolen and directing his followers to go get it back.

Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, put the responsibility of last week’s violence squarely on President Donald Trump. Photo by Stefani Reynolds/CNP/Sipa USA/TNS)

As Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney said, “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.”

Not only that, but once it was clear things were out of control, the president did nothing to halt the violence. Instead, he holed up in the White House trying to take advantage of the mayhem.

“Hours went by before the president did anything meaningful to stop the attack. Instead, he and his lawyer were busy making calls to senators who were still in lockdown, seeking their support to further delay the Electoral College certification,” said Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican of Washington state.

“The one man who could have restored order, prevented the deaths of five Americans, including a Capitol Police officer, and avoided the desecration of our Capitol shrank from leadership when our country needed it most,” said Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Michigan, an Army veteran.

Army veteran Peter Meijer declares victory in the 3rd Congressional District Republican primary near his wife, Gabriella Meijer, on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020.

So yes, there must be serious ramifications for the president’s efforts to not only thwart democracy but put people in harm’s way.

“Once the violence began, when the Capitol was under siege, when the Capitol Police were being beaten and killed, and when the Vice President and the Congress were being locked down, the President was watching TV and tweeted about the Vice President’s lack of courage,” said Rep. Tom Rice, Republican from South Carolina.

“I have backed this president through thick and thin for four years. I campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But, this utter failure is inexcusable.”

A former federal prosecutor, Republican Rep. John Katco of New York said, “To allow the President of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy.” 

Which is really the point. 

If members of Congress do not act in a definitive manner now, then the next time an attempt to overthrow the government happens, they will have lost the moral authority to speak out.

The measure will now go before the U.S. Senate, where members will decide whether to convict Trump for “incitement of insurrection.”

Kansas’s best hope is for its two senators to split their votes. Even after the attempted coup, Sen. Roger Marshall said he’d rather go down in infamy than acknowledge Joe Biden as president-elect. 

Sen. Jerry Moran, meanwhile, sounded a hearty “No!” in last week’s roll call vote on whether to contest the Electoral College results. 

A leader, Moran can be instrumental in setting the world on a better course. These are the decisions that determine the arc of history.

— Susan Lynn

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