Mob of violent Trump supporters swarming the Capitol.

Sandi Bachom


Sandi Bachom

This Is What Sedition Looks Like

There must be truth and consequences for incitement of insurrection. So we must impeach Trump, even if it takes all winter.

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Today, the House of Representatives began the process of impeaching the president for a second time. The charge sounds old-timey, like something Thomas Jefferson or James Madison might have come up with: “incitement of insurrection.” What it means, in plain English, is that Donald John Trump tried to do what many back in 1789 feared George Washington would: overthrow the government and install himself as dictator.

Due to some antiquated rule, the Senate cannot take up the measure until January 19, which happens to be Sen. Mitch McConnell’s last day as majority leader. If the business at hand was confirming a draconian judge, Grim Reaper would move like 60 to do so, but in matters of far greater import, the Turtle lives up to his slow-motion nickname.

Interestingly, the Senate can vote to impeach Trump after he leaves office. That seems counterintuitive, but if he is not acquitted the second time round, he is prohibited from running for office ever again. That will eliminate the specter of this mob-money-laundering monster from entering the fray in 2024—and, more significantly for Trump, stymie his ability to fleece his supporters for more money fundraise. He has already been de-platformed from Twitter and Facebook, an incalculable blow to his livelihood. Stripe, the payment processing company, cut him off, too. Impeachment would, figuratively at least, decapitate the entire movement.

On January 19, the same motley cosplay army that stormed the Capitol has promised to return to D.C., this time armed to the teeth. How many MAGA martyrs are willing to die in Trump’s name? If you’ve ever watched images of suicide bombers blowing themselves up outside some café in Jerusalem and wondered what would possess someone to do such a thing, Trump has provided the answer: radicalization in the form of long-term, military-grade psyop. Their plan, as laid out in various Parler posts, is to occupy the space where the inauguration is to be held the following day and not yield: “We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match.”

I hope our leaders take the threat seriously. I hope President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath inside, at a secure location. I hope Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is nowhere near him when this happens. The District is shut down anyway because of the pandemic. The usual celebratory performances on the Mall—where in 1993, under a tent, I saw Toad the Wet Sprocket play a show at 1o a.m. at Bill Clinton’s inaugural—are not happening, so why do it outside? For all we know, the MAGA masses planted bombs on the scaffolding when they climbed it last week. This is no time to stand on ceremony.

By January 19, too, more details will emerge about the January 6 storming of the Capitol. What we already know is almost too horrible to contemplate. What began as a MAGA rally—composed mostly of maskless morons giving each other Covid—revealed itself to be a besieging of the U.S. Capitol. This was a coordinated attack on our government. It was planned to take place as the vice president presided over the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes.

And it was timed for maximum carnage. Here’s who was in the building that day: the entire House of Representatives, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi; the entire Senate, including Harris; and the sitting vice president. Despite the presence of so many key players, and the advance warning of the coup attempt, and the pleas by Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser for more National Guard protection, security was fishily lax.

While a good number of the besiegers were cosplay clowns who wandered aimlessly through the building, posing for pictures, breaking stuff, stealing stuff, urinating in the halls, and smearing their own shit on the walls, others were out for blood. They moved quickly and with purpose. They were looking for Mike Pence, whose execution for treason the QAnon nut attorney Lin Wood had demanded. There was a gallows erected on the lawn outside. There was a cross large enough for an actual crucifixion. The woman who died inside the Capitol was likely shot because she came too close to the vice president. While it’s true that Trump himself lacks the tactical know-how to organize such a thing, one of his key supporters, Erik Prince—brother of Betsy DeVos and the overseer of a company of literal mercenaries—has it in spades, as his former lieutenant explains:

We came this close to a bloodbath that would have toppled the government.

Let me say that again: We came this close to a bloodbath that would have toppled the government.

Lurking with the guy my wife described as “the weird, pig man Viking,” the smirking Phish fan who stole Pelosi’s lectern, and the other neckbearded incels were bona fide operatives conducting espionage. Hard drives were reportedly taken. Laptops, including Pelosi’s. Files went missing. It was a perfect opportunity to bug the place.

Worst of all, the besieging was incited, encouraged, and promoted by Trump and his allies, including politicians who were in the building: Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas; Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, and others. Rudy Giuliani called for “trial by combat.” Cruz gave a fiery speech egging the insurrectionists on. Ivanka, Junior, and the demented banshee Trump pays to hang out with his loser son encouraged this. Virginia Lamp Thomas, wife of Clarence, tweeted her support. And Trump himself called for and reveled in the proceedings. As the historian Heather Cox Richardson summarizes:

Refusing to stop the attack on the Capitol might have been more nefarious, though. A White House adviser told New York magazine’s Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi that Trump was watching television coverage of the siege and was enthusiastic, although he didn’t like that the rioters looked “low class.” While the insurrectionists were in the Capitol, he tweeted: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” Even as lawmakers were under siege, both Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani were making phone calls to brand-new Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) urging him to slow down the electoral count.

This is what sedition looks like. We throw that word around casually, and Trump’s allies overuse it to dilute its effect. But that’s what that was. We just experienced a viable attempt by a lame-duck president and his supporters to overthrow the government. Anyone involved with this must be indicted, prosecuted, and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

And that’s why impeachment should move forward, even after Trump’s term of office ends. After January 20, he will no longer enjoy the protections of the presidency. He will be a private citizen, compelled like the rest of us to testify under oath. That impeachment trial could—and should—function as a commission for the besieging. Call Hawley to the stand, and ask why he saluted the insurrectionists. Call Cruz and ask what prompted him to give that speech. Call Brooks and Boebert. Call Giuliani and grill him like a well-done Mar-a-Lago burger patty. Call Junior and Ivanka and Eric. Call Lin Wood and Mike Flynn and Roger Stone. Call Pence.

After four years of lies, we’re due for a bracing dose of truth.

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