President Trump said some of the words Thursday night he should have uttered on Wednesday, if not weeks ago.
In a 2½-minute video, Trump condemned the riot at the Capitol, pledged to cooperate in an orderly transition to Democrat Joe Biden and called for healing and reconciliation.
All that is well-taken, but the belated words are not enough.
If the Republican president truly understands the magnitude of his offense — inciting an insurrection against the government he has headed for the past four years — he should accept responsibility by resigning. If not, Vice President Mike Pence and the rest of the Cabinet that hasn’t jumped ship should invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him as unfit to hold the office, even if it’s only for his waning hours in the White House.
Forget a second impeachment, as the House’s Democratic leadership has threatened. There is neither time nor the numbers to get an impeachment and conviction completed in the two weeks left in Trump’s term.
Besides, it’s not the Democrats who have to demonstrate that treasonous behavior will not be tolerated from someone in our nation’s highest office. It is the Republicans. By supporting or humoring Trump’s unfounded accusation that the election had been stolen from him, they produced the climate that culminated in the president’s supporters, at his urging, storming the Capitol, attacking its police force, threatening members of Congress and attempting, however preposterously, to overturn by force the results of a presidential election. The only way for Trump’s GOP enablers to make amends for this grievous error in judgment — and to demonstrate to all in our nation, including the Republicans’ ultraconservative base, that any attempt to violently overthrow our government will not be tolerated — is to remove the president as a symbolic mea culpa.
Besides, Trump’s videotaped remarks Thursday were clearly written for him and intended to stanch the resignations within his administration and save his neck.
But his true self was revealed the day before. It was revealed at the rally near the White House, where he riled up his angry supporters one last time before dispatching them to the Capitol to try to disrupt the certification of his defeat. And it was further revealed by his initial instincts once the predictable riot ensued. He watched the mayhem on TV and dawdled to respond, then told the rioters via video — in what was supposed to be an effort to quell the violence — what “special people” they were, all while voicing again the false and incendiary claim that he and they had been cheated out of victory.
In the aftermath of the riot, the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police and the sergeant-at-arms in the Senate were both pressured to resign because of their failure to foresee what might happen and to take the proper precautionary steps to fend off the siege.
Their culpability, though, pales in comparison to that of Trump. If not for the president’s behavior and his rhetoric, there is no riot.
The president betrayed his office, he betrayed those who serve in government, and he betrayed the majority of Americans, including many of those who had voted for him and are as appalled by what transpired Wednesday as anyone. He has put this nation on edge over what he might possibly do next.
Trump has pulled this trick before, acting rational and decent, then going off the deep end.
The nation should not take any more chances. He must go.