President Donald Trump and those who supported or failed to denounce his baseless conspiracies about the election are inherently to blame for the insurrection at the Capitol building. His nonsensical rhetoric is responsible for everything that happened that day and he must not go unpunished.
The facts about the attempted insurrection are clear. Most of the participants were Trump supporters, many of them having attended Trump’s “Save America” rally. They were certainly influenced by Trump’s repeated attacks on the 2020 election results and refusal to concede. The insurrectionists were there for a reason: to disrupt the certification of votes in support of Trump.
Additionally, with even more troubling reports of explosive devices, some rioters carrying zip ties (presumably for use as restraints), the construction of makeshift gallows and the rioters chanting “Hang Pence,” it would appear they had other violent intentions.
If Trump had simply accepted the results like his predecessors before him, this wouldn’t have happened. Five people wouldn’t be dead. Trump had his chance to concede and send a message of calmness to his supporters. Instead, he demonized his opponents and rallied a warband.
After all of this, members of his administration still have no shame. His own anti-riot video released during the incident continued the spouting of conspiracies, therefore validating the rioters' anger and motives. Additionally, in that same video he called the rioters "special" and told them, "We love you." Worse yet, his own daughter called them “patriots” in a tweet. If other reports are to be believed, Trump himself was ecstatic about the events unfolding.
These are not the actions of someone who believes in the democratic institutions Americans cherish. They are the desperate, clawing attempts of a would-be despot trying to stay in power. These actions should see consequences, and it is not enough to simply let his term expire.
Once he is out of office, he will no longer have the legal protections the presidency grants, and it is likely that he will be hit by the massive cases New York prosecutors have been building against him. However, legal action against him after his term expires is not enough. There are still troubling ideas we would have to grapple with.
The first would be the kind of precedent this sets: A president can incite an insurrection about legitimate election results that were not in their favor and face no retribution from the legislature that was directly put in harm’s way. That is a terrible precedent.
Another would be that he would have a presidential pension that would be bankrolled by the American people. And the most insulting of all is that he would be open to running again in 2024. If rumors are to believed, he could announce his campaign on the day of Biden’s inauguration.
Those three reasons are why Trump should not be allowed to finish out his term. Since removing him via the 25th Amendment is a non-starter following Vice President Mike Pence's refusal to invoke it, the only road is impeachment and conviction.
Impeachment is likely to go through in the House, so all eyes turn to the Senate, where the Democrats would need 20 more votes. And yet somehow, after all of these events, the president still has supporters in Congress.
Several Republicans are either defending Trump and his conspiracies or calling for “unity.” Neither of those make sense. Five people died, and possibly many more were on the mob's chopping block. What America needs right now isn’t unity. It demands justice.
If the Republicans truly wanted unity, they would be up in arms for impeachment. They would be furious that one of their own stained our history and institutions like this. Unity would be both parties sending a firm message that this kind of behavior is unwelcome in America. Because if the conduct on Jan. 6 wasn't impeachable, nothing is.