President Donald Trump must be removed from office immediately, for the good of the country.
Trump incited Wednesday's disgraceful assault on the U.S. Capitol that left a police officer and four other people dead, injured dozens of police officers and left the sacred halls of America's democracy vandalized.
For that, Vice President Mike Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment, declaring Trump unfit to serve and the president's Cabinet should affirm that move. If not, Congress should impeach and convict Trump, removing him from office.
The president cannot be trusted to quietly serve out the final 11 days of his term, without whimsically sparking more violence or an international incident. Trump's disregard for this nation's democratic institutions and traditions has been clearly demonstrated through the past four years. His indifference toward the Constitution has never been more obvious than in the weeks following his loss to former Vice President Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election.
Prior to the voting, Trump repeated his mantra that any election resulting in his defeat would be "rigged." Once state after state affirmed that Trump actually did lose by more than 7 million popular votes, the president fumed, spread false conspiracy theories and filed baseless lawsuits in multiple states. He intimidated and publicly disparaged election officials — most of whom are from his own Republican Party — when they refused to somehow reverse the outcomes in their states. Dozens of judges — many appointed by Trump himself — dismissed his lawyers' flimsy lawsuits.
The rejecters included the conservative U.S. Supreme Court, which includes three Trump-nominated justices.
But Trump never relented with his baseless claims of victory, and never conceded to Biden. After the Electoral College sealed Biden's victory by a 306-232 margin on Dec. 14, the enraged president issued an ominous call to action by his supporters. On Twitter, of course, Trump again falsely declared his loss was "statistically impossible" and then urged his backers to show up for a "Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
They did. And it got wild.
It was Trump's last-ditch effort to overturn the will of 81 million Americans who voted for Biden. He wanted Vice President Pence, as president of the U.S. Senate, to prevent the official certification of the Electoral College vote count on Wednesday. There is no constitutional basis for Pence to do such a thing, and he followed the law and did not.
So, after publicly demeaning Pence for lacking "courage," the protest Trump called for weeks earlier indeed began assembling Wednesday. Trump spoke to a crowd of his loyalists near the White House and told them to go "to the Capitol to try and give [members of Congress] the pride and boldness they need to take back our country."
With both chambers of Congress meeting to affirm Trump's loss, rioters pushed past police, breaking into the Capitol building and forcing the nation's elected representatives to evacuate. People died. Others got hurt. Scenes of insurrectionists climbing the Capitol's walls, breaking windows, scrawling violent threats on doors and ransacking offices spread around the world, not only through television but also the intruders' own social media pages.
The responsibility for that appalling, deadly mess falls directly on President Trump. He stoked it.
It is hard to imagine a scenario more befitting a president's removal from office than that. Whether it happens through the 25th Amendment, impeachment or his unlikely resignation, Trump's presidency should be legally and peacefully ended now. The American democracy that he has so wounded should not have to withstand any more of this.