U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton represents Massachusetts’s 6th district and is a member of the Democratic Party. During the attack he was locked down in his office.
The assault on the U.S. Capitol last week was not a protest. It was not a rally. It was domestic terrorism orchestrated by the President of the United States.
The most fundamental responsibility of the commander-in-chief is to keep America safe. He not only failed to do so, he also actually incited violence against us: against our people, against our government.
Never in U.S. history has this happened, and it must never happen again. Future generations of Americans, and democracy-loving people around the world today, will watch how we respond. Here’s what we must do.
First, we must remove President Donald Trump from office.
The easiest way is for Vice-President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, but it is unlikely he and the current cabinet will muster the political courage to do so. Therefore, Congress must impeach the President.
Some say it’s too late, his term is almost over. But it’s never too late to uphold the law. Others say that Republicans will never vote for it, so he won’t be convicted in the Senate. But Republicans know it is the right thing to do.
It was a conservative Republican who first said to me during the chaos last week: “He must be relieved of command.” He and others should follow the example of fellow Republicans (and fellow veterans) Adam Kinzinger and Mike Gallagher, who have already spoken out publicly.
The question is not whether Republicans know this is right, but simply whether they will find the courage to take a tough vote.
Courage is always hard to come by in Washington, but if there has ever been a time for it, it’s now. And fearing a lack of courage among Republicans would be itself a cowardly reason for the rest of us not to proceed.
Impeaching Mr. Trump is not just a political statement today, it is also a matter of national security for the future. Impeachment would prevent him from seeking the presidency again, and it would help keep him from interfering with any other administration in the meantime.
Unlike past presidents, we cannot expect Mr. Trump to ride Marine One into the sunset of history on Jan. 21, the day after president-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the president. He will remain a danger to our country if we let him. In fact, without the constraints of his White House staff, he could be even more dangerous in the days ahead.
As we begin impeachment proceedings, the second thing we must do is secure the Capitol.
The Capitol Police, with all due respect to those officers who fought valiantly, failed their mission. This was obvious last Wednesday, when I was locked down in my office and my colleagues were stranded on the House floor. During the protest we were moved to an undisclosed location the Capitol Police could protect, because the Capitol had been breached.
As a Marine veteran, I am confident the solution is a top-to-bottom overhaul of the department: new leadership, better training and a significant rise in the standards of professionalism. Those who have interacted with the Capitol Police will know what I mean.
It was predictable that some officers would open the gates, wave in protestors and take selfies with them. For months, there have been public reports about ways the domestic extremists present at this attack – namely the Proud Boys, followers of QAnon, the Boogaloo Bois and the Oath Keepers – have deeply penetrated law enforcement.
Recall that earlier this year during the protest against the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., a SWAT team threw water bottles to a militia group standing in front of a gas station and told them, “We appreciate you.” We know this because it’s on video. One of the people in the video was Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who the militia movement motivated to show up to play soldier. Mr. Rittenhouse was later charged with two counts of homicide and other offences related to the killing of two protestors.
While the physical attack on the Capitol made headlines, the Capitol Police regularly fail to thwart cyberattacks that never make the news.
Better understanding the threats brewing on the internet would have enabled the police to anticipate what was coming down the street last week. On the day of the attack, Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani called for “trial by combat.” Representative Mo Brooks told Mr. Trump’s followers to “kick ass and take names,” and the President told his followers “to fight like hell” and march on the Capitol.
That is why the third thing we must do is ensure the tech companies running the internet co-operate in the nation’s defence and ensure the riotous mob is prosecuted.
I have issued a demand to the country’s major tech companies that they collect, preserve and turn over to the government video and photo evidence of the crimes committed. It is the least they can do.
For almost a century, when Harvard presidents confer law degrees, they speak of “those wise restraints that make us free.” It’s past time to admit how dangerous the internet can be, and recognize that if we want to keep the internet open and free, we must impose some wise restraints.
This is the immediate work that lies ahead. Do not let the political nature of the attack on the Capitol or Mr. Trump’s sympathizers who work within it fool you into thinking this is a political issue. By definition, terrorism has a political agenda.
Responding to this attack by impeaching the President, securing the Capitol, and ensuring we can charge the attackers is not an act of political vengeance. It is about accountability to the law, a principle that should unite us all.
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