Updated: Jan 8, 2021
Today, the day after a Donald Trump-incited mob attacked the U.S. Capitol, two major steps were taken to rid our nation of this monstrous president and return America to the rule of law.
At the exact moment that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in urging Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to remove Trump via the 25th Amendment, President-elect Joe Biden introduced Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee for U.S. Attorney General.
It was a remarkable juxtaposition of events -- a determination to end the tyranny of the Trump presidency that was manifested so vividly in Washington yesterday by Congressional leaders, and a pledge of Justice Department fairness and equal treatment under the law by the president-elect.
Biden's charge to Garland, the Obama-nominated jurist whose Supreme Court nomination by President Obama Republicans refused to even consider, was that he and the Justice Department are to serve as "the people's lawyer," independent from the White House, and to do so according to the law -- not with different standards for the powerful, the rich, the well-connected, or people of different races. Garland promised to do exactly that.
Biden said Trump treated the attorney general in his administration as his "personal attorney" and the Justice Department as his "own personal law firm," and pledged that the independence of the agency would be restored under his watch.
As Biden introduced Garland and three other members of the new Justice Department leadership, Pelosi held a seperate news conference during which she accused Trump of inciting an "armed insurrection" at the Capitol and called for Pence and the Cabinet to remove him from office.
"If the Vice President and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment," she said, adding that it is the “overwhelming sentiment” of the House Democratic caucus to impeach Trump.
As the day went on, momentum for impeachment seemed to build, as increasing numbers of Democrats said they supported such a move. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted a photo of articles of impeachment alleging Trump “violated his oath to faithfully execute the office of President,” and warned that, as long as he is in office, “our country, our democracy, and our national security remain in danger.”
Additional articles of impeachment were drafted by House Judiciary Committee members David Cicilline (D-RI) Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Jaime Raskin (D-MD. Those articles allege Trump "incited" the riot at the capitol and that he will "remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution" if allowed to remain in office.
Even some Republicans began to chime in as they were shocked and disgusted by Trump's urging of his supporters to march to the Capitol and "fight", an exhortation that precipitated the violence resulting in the shooting death of a woman who was one of the rioters who broke into the Capitol, along with at least three other fatalities. The dead woman was reported to be a true Trump believer who embraced radical conspiracy theories and had come to Washington to protest his election defeat.
In effect, Trump is responsible for duping her into taking that action that caused her death.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who has opposed Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, said Trump is “unfit” and “unwell.” Saying that Trump has “become unmoored, not just from his duty or even his oath, but from reality itself,” Kinzinger said the 25th Amendment should be invoked.
"I think there's no question that America would be better off if the president would resign or be removed from office," said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan at a news conference. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott tweeted “Enough is enough. President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress."
Whether all of this will result in any meaningful action is in doubt, as Trump's time in office grows shorter by the day, ending at noon January 20.
But the sense of outrage and urgency is real. As @JohnKingCNN tweeted, "the President of the United States can declare war. He cannot tweet or post to Facebook." That's because he's been at least temporarily banned from those two social media platforms, as well as Instagram.
As others on social media have pointed out, Trump has access to the nuclear codes, but he is considered to be too dangerous for Facebook.
Meanwhile, in announcing Garland's nomination, Biden pointed out that yesterday's virtually all-White mob that ransacked the Capitol was treated with kid gloves by Capitol Police, some of whom took selfies of the domestic terrorists who were breaking into the building. It was a stark contrast to Black Lives Matter supporters who earlier in the year protested police brutality and racial injustice.
"No one can tell me that if that had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn't have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol," Mr. Biden said. "We all know that's true and it is unacceptable. totally unacceptable. The American people saw in plain view and I hope it sensitized them to what we have to do."
Biden said the chaos that erupted at the Capitol was not only a failure to protect the Capitol and the Congress, but also a "clear failure to carry out equal justice."
So far, just 52 people have been arrested from Wednesday's attack on the Capitol. But between May 30 and June 2, at the highest of the racial justice protests, 427 "unrest-related" arrests were made in Washington, according to the police department. On June 1 alone, 289 people were booked. However, additional arrests were being promised today as authorities said they were tracking down those who vandalized the Capitol.
But the starkness of the unequal treatment was not just in the arrest numbers, but in the way the protestors in each case were treated. For the most part Wednesday, the Capitol Police were compliant, allowing the Trump invaders to enter the building and overtake offices, even the House and Senate chambers, at will. During the BLM demonstrations, tear gas, rubber bullets, billy clubs were used. Unmarked federal troops were deployed by Trump, who vowed 10 year prison terms for demonstrators who toppled racist statues.
"For the past four years, we've had a president whose made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done," said Biden. "He has unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of democracy from the outset, and yesterday was but the culmination of that unrelenting attack."
So now, with only days remaining in Trump's term of office, the question is whether there is enough actual outrage and indignation in Congress to remove him from office, or whether that is simply bluster and he will be allowed to serve out his remaining days.
Network pundits and other commentators speculated that it's not reasonable to expect that to happen, especially given the short time remaining and the loyalty to Trump that Pence has displayed, as well as the Republican Senate majority.
However, Pence is boiling mad at Trump, according to reports, for inciting the riot that put his life and those of so many people at the Capitol in danger, especially considering his never-ending loyalty to the president.
"I've known Mike Pence forever," Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday night. "I've never seen Pence as angry as he was today."
"After all I've done for him?" Pence is reported to have said.
Would that anger be sufficient to prompt Pence to enable the 25th Amendment initiative? Of course if he does, he will be president -- if only for a few days.
We will soon know.