Here is the message Republicans must take from the violent mob that Donald Trump sent to attack our Capitol Wednesday in his failed coup attempt:
Break completely with this crazy, seditious wannabe dictator now. Hold him to account, preferably by prompt removal from office via the 25th Amendment or a rapid impeachment and conviction. He must be arrested and criminally prosecuted for trying to overthrow our government, a crime for which we have executed more than a few traitors.
The consequences of Republican leaders failing to totally denounce Trump and back up their denunciations with action? Trump and his dangerous and armed mob will become a millstone around your collective necks. And your failings will brand you as traitors unfit to hold public office.
For the Josh Hawleys, Ted Cruzes, Tom Cottons and other seditious Republican senators and representatives, any further defense of Trump should mark not just the end of your political careers, but the end of your acceptance in civilized society.
Expel Seditious Senators and Representatives
Both the House and Senate, which with the Georgia election results are now under Democratic Party control, should exercise their authority to expel these and other seditious lawmakers if they say another word defending Trump or challenging the certification of Joe Biden as the next president. That's not overreach, that's a Constitutional duty.
The mob that Trump riled up to lay siege to our Capitol, broke into the Capitol, occupied and looted the Senate chamber, engaged in hand-to-hand combat with uniformed Capitol Police, broke into the floors of Congress and rifled through desks, all criminal acts for which Trump is fully responsible. At least one person was shot and killed inside the Capitol, though we don't know at this writing whether a criminal looter or a police officer fired the weapon.
Thank goodness that someone had the presence of mind to gather up the state certifications of the November election results, denying Trump another potential opportunity to attack the inauguration of President Biden.
Trump Still Seeks Overthrow
If you doubt that Trump still wants to overthrow our government, just watch his one-minute video from the White House Rose Garden, made as the siege was underway. Trump asserted yet again the Big Lie that "everyone knows" the election was stolen because he won in a landslide.
While Trump did, in passing, tell the mob to go home, it was only a sort of suggestion because his core message to his riot squad was that "so bad and so evil" people stole the election. His real message to the rioters: never give up trying to end our democracy and keep him in power.
That the crowd did not disperse shows how hollow his words were. Instead, live television carried voices of rioters vowing violence, vowing to continue seeking to overthrow our government. And as the sun set and darkness enveloped the Capitol grounds, where were federal law enforcement other than the Capitol Police?
Trump literally put at risk the lives of his own vice president, Mike Pence, on whom he painted a target during his incitement to the rioters, as well as the next two people in line for the presidency, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Grassley, the Senate president pro tem.
Representative Linda Sanchez, a California Democrat, told MSNBC that she told her family where her last will and testament is just in case the riots turned murderous.
Warning Proved Right
Four and five years ago, I warned again and again that if Trump became president our democracy could end. I also warned that if instead voters ended his time in office his presidency would end badly. I said and wrote back then that while I couldn't predict precisely what would happen, I was certain that Trump would not leave office peacefully.
Now we have seen the violence that I anticipated, violence provoked by Trump, his oldest son and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. This cannot stand.
Give the siege today, there can be no doubt that Trump remains a wannabe usurper, plain and simple. In rallying the mob to march on the Capitol, he committed sedition, a federal crime in conspiracy with the rioters and his son Don Jr. He clearly advocated the overthrow of our government, another felony. And he incited insurrection, a third federal crime.
Add in the provocative words of Giuliani, who told the mob there would be "trial by combat."
Their own words establish a criminal conspiracy involving Trump, his son and his lawyer, a crime punishable by imprisonment for five years or more.
The videos from the Capitol also showed a banner hanging over the platform being built for the inauguration of President Joe Biden in two weeks. Here is what the insurrectionists declared: "We the people will bring DC to its knees. We have the power."
Stopping Further Coup Attempts
They do not have that power, but we also cannot just wave this off. Authorities must exercise their power to indict, try and upon conviction imprison all of the hundreds of criminals who assaulted our democracy, forcing lawmakers into hiding, forcing law enforcement with guns drawn to hold off rioters at the House chamber door with drawn handguns aimed at a broken window.
From Day One, Trump has violated his oath of office but never so dangerously as in his inciting violence, a local crime for which the local District of Columbia authorities should have him arrested the moment his presidency ends—at noon two weeks from today—if not before.
Hours after the siege began, the Capitol was still not under the control of our government as rioters, some of them looters, roamed the building. Lawmakers were forced into hiding.
Trump has over the decades said multiple times that looters should be shot on sight. So why did Trump not call for that in his Rose Garden video tweet? Of course, it's because Trump is at one with the rioters and looters. They are Trump's mob.
Trump has not sent federal law enforcement to corral, arrest and identify the rioters. Instead, the governors of Maryland and Virginia sent state police riot squads to defend the Capitol.
Contrast that with Trump's abusive assignment of the military to attack peaceful demonstrators so he could stage a June 1 photo op with a Bible at the church closest to the White House. Trump's failure to send authorities to quell the rioters is solid evidence of his complicity and support.
What to Do
It would be more than reasonable for Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to remove Trump immediately under the 25th Amendment. In my view, they must do this. However, given the fact that while Trump promised "the best people" would populate his administration he installed such low-grade weaklings and incompetents that, sadly, this is likely a vain hope.
While time is short, it's more than reasonable for the House to impeach Trump a second time. There is no bar to impeaching Trump after he is out of office, but the way to defend our democracy is for the House to rapidly pass articles of impeachment and the Senate to take the issue up the same day and vote to convict and remove him.
And if neither of those occurs, then as soon as Trump is out of office, and is presumed immunity from federal prosecution ends, he must be indicted on District of Columbia level charges. In addition to the crimes he is already under investigation for by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, a state grand jury in Manhattan, New York State attorney general and the district attorney in Fulton County (Atlanta) Georgia. All of these cases should proceed with all due speed.