We can never forget January 6th

January 12, 2021

On the morning of September 11, 2001, when the first plane struck the Twin Towers, I was on the floor of the House giving a presentation. I was told that a plane had struck an office building in New York but had no idea until I returned to my office about what type of attack it was.

In those brief, chaotic moments, there was a fourth plane on its way to attack the U.S. Capitol. However, brave passengers figured out what was going on and gave their own lives to protect our citadel of democracy and the thousands of people working there. 

As awful as those events were, it was a foreign enemy that targeted Americans and wanted to destroy the Capitol as a symbol of American democracy.

What makes the events of January 6, 2021 so disgusting and horrifying is that this attack was not foreign interference from enemies of the United States. It was led by the president himself who urged his deranged followers to attack the Capitol and incite violence against people doing their constitutional duty. 

The horrors have become clearer in recent days. We now see how close we came to losing to the mob. We see how close rioters came to stopping the election certification process. We now know people wanted to attack and perhaps kill Vice President Pence for not doing the president's bidding and find Speaker Pelosi as well. 

We all are thankful for the bravery of a number of people under fire, including some of our own members and of course, the men and women of the Capitol police who bravely stood their ground. 

But there are more questions than answers when you consider how close we came to complete anarchy. What if they had succeeded in harming Vice President Pence? What if they had succeeded in taking members of Congress away with zip ties? What if the security forces responded with more gunfire, starting an all-out firefight?

There are also questions about why the Department of Defense – who answers to Trump – was so delayed in responding to the carnage that the president himself had been stoking and even directing.

I hoped that this would have been enough for some of my fellow members of Congress – who have been indulging and promoting the Trump fantasy of a stolen election – to realize that they had been playing with fire and neglecting their sacred duty. 

But no. It’s almost inconceivable that when the blood, feces, and glass were still being cleaned up, 127 members of the House of Representatives and seven U.S. Senators continued to stoke the fires for the next attack.

I am proud that the Democrats in the House and Senate, joined by a few dozen stalwart patriotic Republicans, withstood the pressure, supported democracy, and protected people’s votes.   

Officially electing Joe Biden that night was an important step. But now, it’s critical – not just for the success of the new administration, but for American democracy – to begin the painful task of holding the rioters accountable, beginning with those who orchestrated it. 

The record is clear that Donald Trump has forfeited his right to exercise the powers of the presidency of the United States. 

He has orchestrated and called for armed insurrection. He lied to the American people in an attempt to encourage their interference with the election process. 

This was on vivid display with phone calls that were recorded for all to hear. Fortunately, Trump failed to get Republican elected officials in Georgia to blatantly, illegally, and unconstitutionally interfere with the election. 

His speech to the mob Wednesday morning repeated yet again his egregious lies about the election being stolen. But directing them to march up the mall to attack the Capitol was the final straw. 

No one can deny his culpability. No one can deny he has forfeited the right to remain president. No one can deny that it is our democracy at stake, threatened by an armed insurrection led by this deranged, delusional and dangerous man. 

One would think Trump inciting the mob to attack the vice president would be enough for Pence to exercise his responsibility under the 25th amendment to remove him from power. One would also think that Cabinet secretaries serving a dangerous despot would not suddenly resign but would do their part to remove Trump. 

But no. It’s now on us to move forward with impeachment.

I’m fully aware of the difficulties this may cause President Biden to get his team in place and dealing with the many dark challenges left by the incompetence and the maliciousness of Trump and his administration. However, we cannot sidestep this critical action in the name of “healing”. 

We need to restrain Trump's ability to do more damage and hold him accountable for his treasonous acts.

The same must be said for the ringleaders who made all this possible in the Senate. Senators Hawley and Cruz are mercifully starting to get some blowback. People are outraged that they were fundraising in the midst of the carnage they inspired and enabled. 

Newspapers are rescinding endorsements as supporters realize they made a tragic mistake. Maybe most significantly, major Republican donors and the business community are speaking to them in the language they understand by denying them contributions for their continued quest for power. It’s not enough. They should resign. 

Responsibility also lies in the House of Representatives. It begins with the Republican leadership. Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise presided over 127 of their members who advanced the lies, stoked resentment, and empowered the Trump riot.

Make no mistake, if Republicans had told the truth and done their duty, most of the air would have gone out of the balloon. The insurrectionists would have lacked the legitimacy of people in the House of Representatives who were attacking democracy from within, while the rioters were attacking democracy outside the chamber doors. 

It’s clear that McCarthy and Scalise have forfeited their right to a leadership role in Congress. Indeed, they should resign. 

Another colleague, Mo Brooks, was an active part of the mob. He may not have carried a sledgehammer to assault the doors, but he was there with Trump on that fateful morning. He was parroting the lies and urging the mob to assault the Capitol. By helping incite this riot, he should also forfeit his right to serve in Congress.

We are initiating an ethics complaint, which could lead to him being expelled from the House of Representatives. We must hold him accountable to the American people and show clearly that we’re not going to tolerate those who incite violence and attacks on our institutions, especially as members of Congress. 

There are those who are urging against such action, claiming this is instead a time for healing. No. Dozens of Republican men and women, at great personal risk, stood up to the inflamed base of Trump supporters and told the truth. They made it clear that the mob had been lied to and that Joe Biden won the presidential election. It was important to protect the process and to acknowledge the 70 Republicans who made that possible.   

Because there will be a time for healing, but only after accountability. 

The record of that fateful day of January 6 was clear even as the echoes of the rioters were still reverberating in the halls of Congress. Those who continued to stoke the opposition that retreated and regrouped for another day must face consequences.  

Their actions demand accountability and justice. Their lawlessness will not be tolerated, and no one will be allowed to subvert our democracy.