President Donald Trump has refused to resign gracefully or to express any contrition
for his role in last week’s ugly attack on the U.S Capitol, so punitive options are limited.
It was almost exactly a dozen years ago — Jan. 9, 2009 — that the Illinois House voted almost unanimously to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich for a number of misdeeds. A few weeks later, the Illinois Senate unanimously convicted the governor, removing him from office.
Blagojevich’s crimes were serious and he deserved to be removed from office. But his wrongdoing paled in comparison with what President Donald Trump did a week ago today, urging an angry mob to march on Congress, which was in the middle of its solemn, quadrennial duty of counting electoral votes.
When the mob got angrier, breaking down doors and windows at the Capitol, physically assaulting officers, vandalizing the seat of American government and chanting that it wanted to seek out and kill Vice President Mike Pence, only then did Trump reluctantly urge his followers to “go home in peace,” adding that “we love you, you’re very special.”
His words followed nothing less than an unprecedented insurrection against the government, an event that was dangerously close to a mass execution of officers of the U.S. Congress.
The FBI and other agencies have steadily made arrests of those who participated in the mob action. But what of those who encouraged the violence, then turned away when it was occurring and still refuse to accept any responsibility? Should Trump escape any accountability simply because his term in office will end in seven days?
That shouldn’t matter. He shouldn’t escape discipline — through a constitutional process — for his role in trying to overturn a legitimate election. Impeaching him, as Ronald Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan opined, “would go some distance to restoring our reputation, reinforcing our standards, and clarifying constitutional boundaries for future presidents who might need it.”
The recklessness of Trump and his allies in Congress, some of whom are still trying to deflect the ugliness of the Jan. 6 rioting and blame it on others, can’t be allowed to go unpunished or threaten to interfere with the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden next week. All of the insurrectionists must face justice.