Putting into words what happened on Capitol Hill yesterday is an exercise in futility. We have never before had an attempted coup in our country, not even during the Civil War with Confederate troops just across the Potomac River in Virginia.
And let’s not play word games or draw some sort of warped equivalency: this was a coup by a mob of terrorists urged on by the president of the United States. He called his MAGA stormtroopers to Washington to protest on the very day the Congress would formally accept the votes of the electoral college that Joe Biden is the next president of the United States.
Trump knew exactly what he was doing. He spoke to his mob just before they stormed Capitol Hill. He “lit the flame,” in the words of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming). Trump called them patriots and said he loved them. They had his full support.
Trump is directly responsible for this, and for his role as the instigator of a mob riot he should be removed from office immediately. He has to be held to account, or the rule of law in this country is just a mockery, one where white people get away with sacking the Capitol and high-fiving their way out of the building in triumph.
That would allow Vice President Mike Pence, who performed his constitutional duties Wednesday and into Thursday morning, to take over in the days before Mr. Biden is sworn in and get this very unbalanced, dangerous man out of the White House.
On Thursday morning, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, issued a statement saying the attack on the Capitol “was an insurrection against the United States, incited by President Trump. This president must not hold office one day longer.”
Those Congressmen and Senators who enabled Trump, who never denounced his Everest of daily lies, who mouthed his conspiracy theories about the election being “stolen” should all be censored. Take a look at the photograph of Sen. Josh Hawley from Missouri with his fist in the air — a huge sign of ‘I support you’ to the mob about to sack the Capitol. As the Kansas City Star said in its editorial, Hawley has blood on his hands. Four people reportedly died at the Capitol Wednesday.
Before the insurrection, our congressman, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said he would join other House Republicans to challenge the electoral college vote that gave the presidency to Biden. And he stuck with his pledge even after the rioting, even after the bloodshed in the Capitol building.
He joined other House members in continuing the challenge to the electoral college vote after the Capitol was finally cleared by an overmatched police force. While a number of senators had said they would challenge the electoral vote, they changed their positions after the riot.
Zeldin did not. He stuck with it. He backed up the man he seems to admire so much. History will record what he and his likeminded colleagues did yesterday.
In his speech, Zeldin went on about mail-in ballots and the other conspiracy laden drivel promoted by Trump, whom Zeldin has barely dented with even the weakest criticism in the past four years.
Here is some of what he said: “My constitutional oath is sacred and I have a duty to speak out about confirmed evidence… in certain battleground states. Signature verification, ballot observation, voter roll integrity, voter ID requirements and ballot collection protections were weakened on top of the millions of mailboxes that were flooded with unrequested mail-in ballots.
“This debate is necessary because rogue election officials, secretaries of state and courts circumvented state election laws. They made massive changes to how their states election would be run. These acts among other issues were unlawful and unconstitutional.
“Courts in Arizona unilaterally extended the legislatively set deadline to register to vote. The Arizona state Senate issued subpoenas post election to get information from the Maricopa County board on various election matters but the board and the court refused to help at all to let the state Senate complete its constitutional duties.
“In Pennsylvania, where state legislators wrote us about their powers being usurped, the Democrat majority on the state supreme court changed signature matching and postal marking requirements. The date to submit mail-in ballots was extended, contradictory to the date set by state law.”
He charged that voter rolls are “so inaccurate that more voters submitted ballots than there were registered voters.” He said poll watchers were denied the ability to observe the count.”
In the very citadel to our democracy, Zeldin joined with others to overturn the Nov. 3 election based on nothing but conspiratorial garbage that had been adjudicated dozens and dozens of times before judges. The allegations he made in the House were found by the courts, and by elections officials, to be baseless.
If Zeldin doesn’t want to confront the reality that yesterday’s coup attempt was long in the making, that never even offering the weakest of criticism of a presidents whose daily lies weakened our democracy, we will: Those members of the House and Senate who backed up Trump are fully complicit in where our country is today.
Even a Trump loyalist like Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, stepping over the wreckage left by the rioters, had the decency, however late in the game, to say last night: “Count me out. Enough is enough.” Zeldin and his colleagues could not even do that.