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Swalwell: The House must impeach President Donald Trump — again

Swalwell: The House must impeach President Donald Trump — again

President Trump is a threat to American lives and democracy. He’s supposed to be out of power in less than 10 days, but we can’t afford to wait that long; he must leave office now. If he won’t resign, and if Vice President Mike Pence lacks the courage to invoke the 25th Amendment, the House of Representatives must impeach him. Again.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

On Jan. 6, Trump and his supporters in Congress incited an attack on the U.S. Capitol. It was the day of one of our most sacred duties: certification of the Electoral College votes, a key step in a peaceful transition of power.

Trump and his congressional accomplices convinced thousands of radicalized terrorists that violently storming the Capitol could stop Joe Biden and Kamala Harris from taking office. The House and Senate chambers had to be evacuated; five people died, including a Capitol Police officer; and the world’s symbol of freedom was desecrated by terrorists.

This wasn’t the first time I had to evacuate from Capitol Hill. As police escorted us to safety, I remembered a similar scene nearly 20 years ago, when I was a congressional intern. The World Trade Center and the Pentagon had been attacked; many feared the Capitol was next.

We lost almost 3,000 American lives in that attack by foreign terrorists; last week’s attack came from within. These domestic terrorists’ unprecedented purpose was to end our democracy by violence or even murder.

As Trump’s terrorists tried to force the House Chamber’s doors, a security officer calmly told lawmakers to grab gas masks and be ready to duck under our seats if shots were fired. Glass was breaking and doors were being pounded; the chaplain went to the podium, where the president delivers the State of the Union, to offer a prayer. One colleague called her husband to tell him where her will was. I texted my wife, “I love you and our babies. Please hug them for me.”

Trump irrefutably incited this attack, with final orders issued that very day. Minutes after his lawyer exhorted the crowd to “trial by combat,” Trump urged the mob to march on the Capitol “because you’ll never take back our country with weakness.”

We can’t wait and see what he does next. More lives could be lost; our democratic ideals could be vanquished. Trump no longer has his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram bullhorns, but this unhinged would-be despot commands our nation’s nuclear arsenal. Jan. 20 may seem close, but think how quickly thousands rushed the Capitol when he ordered them there.

Trump shouldn’t be president for another second. When he egged on that mob, and later called them “special people” whom he loved, he forfeited the benefit of the doubt. His actions led to the first invasion of the Capitol since 1814. Now we must move faster than his corruption and chaos.

Impeachment could lead him to resign or to Pence invoking the 25th Amendment, though neither seems likely. But it also could deter Trump and his enablers from wreaking further chaos.

The House also must set a standard for future presidents. Imagine a future corrupt, evil president making the case that certain conduct is not impeachable because “Trump incited a terrorist attack and he wasn’t impeached.”

Every member of Congress must be held accountable for how they judge Trump’s conduct. We all must go on record sanctioning or condemning what he did. After he’s gone, we’ll learn more about his corrupt and evil ways, and the only regret we’ll have is that we didn’t do more to stop him.

Twenty years ago, we feared for our lives as a foreign enemy attacked us. Today, we’re under attack again — that’s present tense, as plans to attack the Capitol again are underway — by homegrown enemies activated by Trump’s commands. We must stop him now and expedite his removal from office. Innocent lives and our republic hang in the balance.

Rep. Eric Swalwell represents California’s 15th Congressional District in the East Bay.


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