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Donald Trump's lies turned violent — he must be removed from office immediately

The Hill logo The Hill 1/11/2021 Danielle Brian, Opinion Contributor
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Donald Trump's lies turned violent — he must be removed from office immediately © Getty Images Donald Trump's lies turned violent — he must be removed from office immediately

Lies take on a life of their own. That life, Americans discovered Wednesday, can be incredibly violent.

Domestic terrorists spurred on by lies attacked our nation's capital. The attempted insurrection was the culmination of a consistent strategy by President Donald Trump and his allies to undermine U.S. democracy and claim an election victory they did not win.

Their scheme has for two months been deceptively simple: Make spurious, conspiracy-laden claims of election fraud. Spread these falsehoods across the conservative media sphere. Then argue for yet another recount, lawsuit, or intervention to assuage constituents' inflamed "concerns."

No wonder that in the last moments before Joe Biden would be formally declared president-elect, chaos erupted.

Even as the Capitol was under siege, the mendacity continued to rain down from the top. Donald Trump had the audacity to explain away an uprising as "things and events that can happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long." His video message contained similar dishonesty and praise for the would-be insurrectionists.

Unfortunately, the nation is discovering that lies told often enough can become almost impervious to truth. Over 60 losses in state and federal courts before Republican- and Democratic-appointed judges alike were not sufficient to change right-wing hearts and minds or restore their faith in the election. Georgia conducted three thorough recounts, including a signature verification audit and a painstaking hand tally of every vote cast. Yet Trump still demanded, in a highly unethical and legally dubious telephone conversation, that election officials "find" him more votes.

Anyone believing that such documented abuse of presidential power would dissuade Trump supporters from carrying their misguided cause any further was quickly disappointed. And if one thought Trump's recent actions would be sufficient to call allies back from the brink of sedition, Jan. 6 was a rude awakening.

Even after the violence at the Capitol earlier in the day, several senators and a significant portion of the House Republican caucus voted to reject the election results from two states.

Their actions, along with the lies they told on the congressional floor, will live in ignominy.

Now it falls to the rest of us to preserve our republic and our values. We must come together to defend truth.

And we must demand answers for why police presence Wednesday was so limited and intervention against domestic terrorism so restrained when largely peaceful protestors last summer were greeted with a far more aggressive stance. The contrast between teargassing citizens to make way for a photo op and failing to keep a mob out of the U.S. Capitol speaks volumes.

There is no excuse for - nor defense of - a president of the United States to actively orchestrate an insurrection on a separate but coequal branch of government. Surely, the Founders would be sickened by the thought of such actions. As members of the branch that was under attack - not just politically but physically - Congress must remove the president from office. They must send a strong and clear message not just to this president but future presidents that this type of behavior will not be tolerated or accepted.

Frankly, the message also needs to be made clear to the American people that there is no place in politics for violence.

It is a dark day when a nation discovers that its efforts to heal deep wounds will be resisted by one in four of its top elected leaders. Accountability will be difficult to achieve in these circumstances, but it should start at the top and include an investigation into what led to last week's tragic events. Lies have caused immense damage, but the truth must prevail, and Congress can ensure that happens.

Danielle Brian is Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight in Washington, D.C.


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