The events of last Wednesday have left many politicians calling for unity and bipartisanship, causing many to argue that impeachment of President Donald Trump would further divide the country. I, however, judge that this course of action will do quite the opposite: it will begin to restore the guiding principles of the Constitution that were deeply shattered by recent events. In “Federalist No. 51”, James Madison argued that the checks and balances among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the new government are what would make the future U.S. government strong and stable for centuries to come. No branch has the ability to threaten or intimidate another in any significant capacity.
With this in mind, the Capitol riots are not a “peaceful protest,” as some Trump officials have claimed it is, but a direct attack on the Legislative Branch by the Executive Branch. Donald Trump abused his presidential authority to try and obstruct the Legislative Branch, which was doing its constitutional duty of certifying the election. Many will say that the riots were unintentional, and that many prominent Republicans encouraged supporters to march peacefully. To this I say: who scheduled the march? Who was the keynote speaker at this rally? Who stood by while his supporters threatened to hang the Vice President of the United States? Whether Democrat or Republican, not a single person benefits from the President walking free; Trump must be held accountable. This event cannot become just another event in the normalized, never-ending line of obscenities associated with President Trump. It must be judged as what it was: a high crime against the American people itself.
President Trump is not above the law and therefore is not above impeachment. Brother turned on brother on Wednesday: American blood was spilled by American hands in the temple of American democracy itself. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sickneck, a federal agent who gave his life protecting the constitution, is dead, and yet the man responsible for his death has not been held accountable. President Trump incited a mob of supporters with lies and conspiracy theories, leading to the death of a U.S. federal agent. As per statues that President Trump himself helped put in place, the murder of a U.S. federal agent is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison without parole. While most may not understand how Trump himself should be directly held responsible for this heinous act, there is serious legal precedent to support this. In 1969, the Supreme Court’s “Brandenburg vs. Ohio” ruling, they stated that the government can punish speech that is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” The court would uphold this principle four years later in “Hess vs. Indiana,” arguing that a threat of violence makes one culpable for said future violence. Therefore, there is complete legal justification for Trump’s removal from office. If President Trump is not impeached, or does not face prosecution once out of office, a dangerous precedent would be set. No American, much less a sitting president, has the right to unleash a violent mob against the U.S. Capitol, and should one do so, they must receive the punishment which their actions merit.
Furthermore, the case for Republicans to support impeachment is quite clear: these lawmakers should see impeachment as an opportunity to reunite their party after the divisions created by Trump. The Republican party is currently being dominated by extremist factions that do not represent the party’s ideology. The founding tenant of the modern Republican party is that of Christian Conservatism—the active promotion of Christian family values and the active degrading of abortion rights, divorce, homosexuality, among many others. President Trump is in no way a devout Christian, and in no way a direct proponent of these values. Now, President Trump’s posse of supporters chooses to use anti-semetism, racism, islamophobia and nationalism as their guiding ideologies, which are not the values embraced by the vast majority of his own party’s members. As his grip on power of the Republican Party expands, he is shifting the ideologies associated with the party. Trump is far from the standard-bearer of Republican values and there is no real benefit gained from mindlessly protecting Trump. This is the final chance for the Republican Party to shake off the venom the President has injected their party with; should they not do so now, his influence will only expand until it is too late to remove his elements from the party at all.
Deep divisions are beginning to form since President Trump chose to make claims of mass voter fraud. Republicans were forced to choose between their conscience and their party leader. This all came to a head during the Senate debate on certifying the results of the elections, when once staunch allies Ted Cruz and Pat Toomey were sharply butting heads. Republicans have an opportunity to acknowledge that they do not support the destructive elements of their party, and slowly subdue the white nationalist wave ignited by the President that is negatively transforming their party’s image. Should Republican lawmakers fail to support impeachment, not only would a dangerous unconstitutional precedent be set, but Republican party as it exists today will likely be destroyed indefinitely. There is no valid argument to be made—legal or political—which can encourage members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to not support President Trump’s immediate impeachment and removal from office.