PRESIDENT TRUMP’S refusal to accept his election defeat and his relentless incitement of his supporters led Wednesday to the unthinkable: an assault on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob that overwhelmed police and drove Congress from its chambers as it was debating the counting of electoral votes. Responsibility for this act of sedition lies squarely with the president, who has shown that his continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to U.S. democracy. He should be removed.
Mr. Trump encouraged the mob to gather on Wednesday, as Congress was set to convene, and to “be wild.” After repeating a panoply of absurd conspiracy theories about the election, he urged the crowd to march on the Capitol. “We’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you,” he said. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” The president did not follow the mob, but instead passively watched it on television as its members tore down fences around the Capitol and overwhelmed police guarding the building. House members and senators were forced to flee. Shots were fired, and at least one person was struck and killed.
Rather than immediately denouncing the violence and calling on his supporters to stand down, Mr. Trump issued two mild tweets in which he called on them to “remain” or “stay” peaceful. Following appeals from senior Republicans, he finally released a video in which he asked people to go home, but doubled down on the lies fueling the vigilantes. “We love you. You’re very special,” he told his seditious posse. Later, he excused the riot, tweeting that “these are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away.” [….]
Confederate flags were carried into the U.S. Capitol building.
The president is unfit to remain in office for the next 14 days. Every second he retains the vast powers of the presidency is a threat to public order and national security. Vice President Pence, who had to be whisked off the Senate floor for his own protection, should immediately gather the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, declaring that Mr. Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Congress, which would be required to ratify the action if Mr. Trump resisted, should do so. Mr. Pence should serve until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
Failing that, senior Republicans must restrain the president. The insurrection came just as many top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), were finally denouncing Mr. Trump’s antidemocratic campaign to overturn the election results. A depressing number of GOP legislators — such as Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) — were prepared to support Mr. Trump’s effort, fueling the rage of those the president has duped into believing the election was stolen.
The Daily Beast: Trump Aides Beg Top Officials to Stay After MAGA Mob Attack.
While President Donald Trump egged on a mob of his supporters who had stormed the United States Capitol on Wednesday, several of his top aides began to scramble. Their mission, according to three sources familiar with the matter: to try to convince senior White House staffers and Cabinet secretaries to stay in the administration, if only just for the night.
The effort has not been completely successful. Stephanie Grisham, the chief of staff to the first lady and the former White House communications director, quit hours after the insurrection, as CNN first reported. So did Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews. “As someone who worked in the halls of Congress I was deeply disturbed by what I saw today,” she wrote.
Former Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced that he had resigned from his diplomatic post on Thursday morning, telling CNBC: “I can’t stay.” Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger also resigned on Wednesday afternoon, an administration official confirmed to The Daily Beast and Ryan Tully quit the National Security Council.
Several other senior officials said they were considering quitting on the spot after news broke that an individual involved in Wednesday’s events at the Capitol had died as a result of a gunshot wound. Those officials include Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Liddell, two sources familiar with the situation said.
Trump aides and GOP power-brokers including Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asked all three to remain in their posts until at least tomorrow.
These people knew what Trump was long ago. The only reason they are leaving is to try to salvage their own tattered reputations.
Buzzfeed News: The Rioters Who Took Over The Capitol Have Been Planning Online In The Open For Weeks.
The supporters of President Donald Trump who rioted in the US Capitol building on Wednesday had been openly planning for weeks on both mainstream social media and the pro-Trump internet. On forums like TheDonald, a niche website formed after Reddit banned the subreddit of the same name, they promised violence against lawmakers, police, and journalists if Congress did not reject the results of the 2020 election.
In one interaction four days ago, a person on TheDonald asked, “What if Congress ignores the evidence?”
“Storm the Capitol,” one replied, which received more than 500 upvotes.
“You’re fucking right we do,” another said.
On pro-Trump social media website Parler, chat app Telegram, and other corners of the the far-right internet, people discussed the Capitol Hill rally at which Trump spoke as the catalyst for a violent insurrection. They have been using those forums to plan an uprising in plain sight, one that they executed Wednesday afternoon, forcing Congress to flee its chambers as it met to certify the results of the election.
“Extremists have for weeks repeatedly expressed their intentions to attend the January 6 protests, and unabashedly voiced their desire for chaos and violence online,” said Jared Holt, a visiting research fellow with DFRLab. “What we’ve witnessed is the manifestation of that violent online rhetoric into real-life danger.”
“The earliest call we got on our radar for today specifically was a militia movement chatroom talking about being ‘ready for blood’ if things didn’t start changing for Trump,” Holt said.
So why was the response from law enforcement so pathetic? We need answers.
Axios: The Capitol siege’s QAnon roots.
Wednesday’s assault on the U.S. Capitol was an appalling shock to most Americans, but to far-right true believers it was the culmination of a long-unfolding epic.
The big picture: A growing segment of the American far right, radicalized via social media and private online groups, views anyone who bucks President Trump’s will as evil. That includes Democrats, the media, celebrities, judges and officeholders — even conservatives, should they cross the president.
Catch up quick: A great many Trump supporters spent recent weeks on heavily pro-Trump platforms like TheDonald.win and Parler openly discussing coming to Washington on Jan. 6 to launch an attack on the government.
- Often the idea was discussed in vague or winking terms; other times, users explicitly called for elected officials to be abducted and executed.
- Users on more mainstream platforms talked up plans to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to simply protest the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Trump egged them on, repeatedly calling on supporters to swarm Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.
Between the lines: Adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, who imagine a vast deep-state cabal of pedophiles arrayed against Trump, have for years insisted that a moment of reckoning for their enemies is imminent.
QAnon believers have largely accepted that Trump is waiting for the right time to bring a hammer down on his enemies (or already has, in secret).
But time is running out. Because Congress was slated to officially certify Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, the day became the focal point of a new conspiracy theory — that Trump would, on that date, reveal mountains of evidence of electoral fraud, somehow invalidate Biden’s win, and secure a second term.
Anne Applebaum at The Atlantic: What Trump and His Mob Taught the World About America.
In 1945, the nations of what had been Nazi-occupied Western Europe chose to become democracies, partly because they aspired to resemble their liberators. In 1989, the nations of what had been Communist-occupied Eastern Europe also chose to become democracies, partly because they too wanted to join the great, prosperous, freedom-loving, American-led democratic alliance. A huge variety of countries all across Asia, Africa, and South America have also chosen democracy over the past several decades, at least partly because they wanted to be like us, because they saw a path to the peaceful resolution of conflict in imitating us, because they saw a way to resolve their own disputes just like we did, using elections and debate instead of violence.
During this period, many American politicians and diplomats mistakenly imagined that it was their clever words or deeds that persuaded others to join what eventually became a very broad, international democratic alliance. But they were wrong. It was not them; it was us—our example.
Over the past four years, that example has been badly damaged. We elected a president who refused to recognize the democratic process. We stood by while some members of Donald Trump’s party cynically colluded with him, helping him break laws and rules designed to restrain him. We indulged his cheerleading “media”—professional liars who pretended to believe the president’s stories, including his invented claims of massive voter fraud. Then came the denouement: an awkward, cack-handed invasion of the Capitol by the president’s supporters, some dressed in strange costumes, others sporting Nazi symbols or waving Confederate flags. They achieved the president’s goal: They brought the official certification of the Electoral College vote to a halt. House and Senate members and Vice President Mike Pence were escorted out of the legislative chambers. Their staff members were told to shelter in place. A woman was shot to death.
There is no way to overstate the significance of this moment, no way to ignore the power of the message that these events send to both the friends and the enemies of democracy, everywhere. The images from Washington that are going out around the world are far more damaging to America’s reputation as a stable democracy than the images of young people protesting the Vietnam War several decades ago, and they are far more disturbing to outsiders than the riots and protests of last summer. Unlike so many other disturbances over the years, the events at the Capitol yesterday did not represent a policy dispute, a disagreement about a foreign war or the behavior of police. They were part of an argument over the validity of democracy itself: A violent mob declared that it should decide who becomes the next president, and Trump encouraged its members. So did his allies in Congress, and so did the far-right propagandists who support him. For a few hours, they prevailed.
I’ve barely touched the surface of the commentary that’s out there today. I’ll add more links in the comment thread and I hope you’ll add your own thoughts and links to the discussion. Take care Sky Dancers!