As a regular contributor to USA TODAY, I had planned weeks ago to write about the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. I wanted to talk about both the constitutional necessity and the political importance of observing this ritual of our democracy. I expected some protests in the capital area, and I knew that the members of the “Sedition Caucus” — the Republicans who want to overturn a democratic election — would lodge their inane and doomed objections, but I hoped as well that Vice President Mike Pence would simply do his duty, read the votes and we would all move on.
Instead, I am writing to demand that the Congress of the United States impeach, convict and remove the president of the United States. The violence and chaos that engulfed the Capitol building Wednesday were the direct result of seditious incitement by President Donald Trump, and he must be removed from office for violating his oath to the Constitution and endangering the safety of the American republic.
I do not make this call lightly. In my day job, I am a federal employee. (I am bound here to remind you that I do not represent my employer or any branch of the U.S. government.) I have sworn an oath to the Constitution and reported for work each day walking past the portraits of five presidents, including President Trump's. I did not vote for Trump, and I was in favor of Trump’s impeachment in the House in December 2019. But I accepted the outcome of the constitutional process and did my duties faithfully. I will continue to do so.
Unfit to lead military or protect USA
At the same time, as a citizen of the United States, it is also my right to call on my elected representatives to protect the republic from this rogue president.
There are three reasons to impeach Trump right now — indeed, in this very hour, or as soon as the House and Senate can reconvene and get it done. (Impeachment does not require a lengthy process. It is a vote on the floor of each chamber like any other.)
First, Trump is an imminent danger to the safety of the country. The Capitol was overrun by a mob at his behest. By late afternoon, Trump had called on the protesters to go home — while telling them that they were indeed right that the election had been stolen, thus pouring more fuel on the flames even while pretending to calm the waters. There is no responsible argument for leaving such a man in command of the armed forces, for leaving the security of the American nation in his hands for one more minute.
Second, even after this attempt at a violent overthrow of the political order is defeated, Trump is not going to stop. He created the situation in the Capitol, and he will gladly create another diversion — perhaps with a last-ditch attempt to use the U.S. military at home or as part of a desperate attempt to embroil America in a foreign conflict — if he thinks it is the only way to protect himself from the legal and financial peril he will face on Jan. 21.
Legal and moral responsibility: Trump unleashed the mobs that attacked the U.S. Capitol. Remove him from office today.
Finally, impeachment for multiple crimes against the Constitution and the American people is the only course left for lawmakers, especially Republicans of the president’s own party, who want to demonstrate their fidelity to the Constitution and protect the supremacy of the rule of law in the United States. The Constitution has to mean something. If the president of the United States goes unpunished after unleashing a mob against elected legislators merely because he wishes to invalidate an election, then this is a far larger problem than a day of protest that got out of hand.
We should never have come to this point. Of course, now that all is lost, born-again constitutionalists like Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (soon to become minority leader) have rediscovered the notion of duty and strict obedience to the Constitution. They are too late, and it is to their shame that they did not act sooner. Trump has made it clear for months, even years, that he would never accept a defeat and that he would never voluntarily leave office. They knew the danger and they chose to take their chances in order to keep their grip on power.
Time for Republicans to do their part
Likewise, pro-Trump commentators — and the far worse “anti-anti-Trumpers,” the oily cowards who from the start claimed they neither supported nor opposed Trump — ridiculed those of us who warned that Trump was intent on inciting violence. They rolled their eyes at expressions such as “cult of personality.” And now the Capitol has literally been invaded by a mob of kooks who for months on end have been fed insane stories of Venezuelan voting machines and secret pedophile cabals. These apologists owe it to the country to admit that they were wrong and to join the call for impeachment.
Trump should have been stopped by the GOP during the primaries in 2016. He should have been stopped when he was impeached the first time. He should have been stopped during the 2020 campaign when he yet again said he would have to see how the voting went before he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
Democrats, whatever the limits of their usual disorganization, have tried for four years to stop Trump from running roughshod over our system of government. Biden ran a campaign that took the high road and called for national unity. They have done their part. Now it is time for the Republicans to do theirs. They must join with Democrats, impeach the president and gather in the Senate to bring together the supermajority of votes required by the Constitution to remove Trump, end this lunacy, and install Mike Pence as the 46th president.
If America is even to begin to remove the stain of Jan. 6, 2021, there is only one course of action. Impeach and convict Donald John Trump now.
Tom Nichols, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College, a senior adviser to The Lincoln Project and a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors, is the author of “Our Own Worst Enemy,” coming in August. The opinions expressed here are his own. Follow him on Twitter: @RadioFreeTom
You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Impeach Trump. He's too dangerous to be president for another minute.