Impeachment trial is a necessary measure

The Senate must move to hold former President Trump responsible for his actions

Samantha Horowitz, Staff Columnist

The beginning of 2021 meant more than just the start of another year. For many, the end of 2020 signaled a renewed hope in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Millions of Americans were injected with a sense of optimism not felt since the beginning of the previous year, many others were literally injected with the vaccine. The start of 2021 also marked the final days of the Trump presidency. In a term defined by racism, economic depression and division, the end of Trump’s tenure offered a sliver of hope that the nation could finally begin to address the wounds of our fractured republic and rebuild. With so much promise heading into the new year, the news pouring out of the US Capitol on Jan. 6 seemingly transformed any plans for unity into a pipe dream. What started as a protest against the results of the 2020 election quickly descended into a calculated assault on the Capitol building and our elected officials inside. Thousands of Trump supporters and QAnon conspiracy theorists broke down doors, smashed windows, and defaced property at the seat of American democracy — all with the intention to stand tall alongside the now-former president.

Perhaps given the turmoil of the entire Trump presidency and the contention surrounding the 2020 election, the events that transpired in the nation’s capital are not surprising. But the images that emerged during and after the insurrection at the Capitol left me with two questions: How did this happen? And how does America move forward?

I’d say the first is the easier question. It’s not particularly challenging to find a video of former President Trump inciting violence. At one of his rallies in 2016, Trump encouraged his supporters to attack any protestor that tried to interrupt him, saying “knock the crap out of them, would you?” When a protestor interrupted his rally in Las Vegas, Trump yelled, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” And when Trump spoke at the Save America rally, he promised his followers that he would march with them to the Capitol building to demand that the 2020 election results be overturned. So although the violence at the Capitol was jarring at first, analyzing the history of Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric illustrates that he is at the center of this conflict and bears the blame.

This brings us to a broader, more challenging question to answer: how do we move forward? Thousands of American citizens gathered to protest the results of a free and fair election and hundreds stormed into a federal building, some defacing property while others moved swiftly through the hallways with zip-tie handcuffs and weapons in tow. The FBI has arrested several of the assailants, but the person who incited the attack, who encouraged his followers to rebuke the lawful transition of power, must also be held accountable for his actions. President Trump must be convicted by the Senate in order for us to move forward as a nation.

Impeachment is the very tool the Founding Fathers implemented to hold elected officials, including the president, accountable. The House of Representatives considers whether to impeach and the Senate acts as a jury, eventually deciding whether to convict based on “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The articles of impeachment introduced by several House members argue that former President Trump used his power as commander-in-chief to incite an attack on the US government.

The grim reality is that Trump’s impeachment trial will likely inflame the very emotions President Biden has tried to quell. But to move forward from the disaster that transpired on Jan. 6, Trump must be held accountable for his part in directing the attack on the Capitol. Just as impeaching the president sets a precedent, doing nothing sets a dangerous precedent — a get-out-of-jail-free card for future leaders who violate the Constitution.

In roughly a week, the Senate will hear the case against former President Donald Trump. The impeachment managers should call witnesses, so the American people can understand the level of involvement Trump had in the Jan. 6 insurrection. It’s hard to say how America will recover considering the center of democracy was literally torn apart and ransacked by domestic terrorists. But convicting Donald Trump is a good start to uncovering the truth regarding what has transpired in the United States.