Coup attempt at US Capitol must be punished with all force of law

What happened today at the US Capitol was an armed, paramilitary attack on the United States Congress. It was not a protest; it was not a riot. Armed militants used weapons to overwhelm Capitol security and carried out actions well described by federal law as part of a seditious conspiracy. Their intention, openly stated during hours of menacing chants and threats, was to disrupt the counting of Electoral College votes.

In the days before the attack, reports emerged of increasing online “chatter” among pro-Trump armed extremist groups, including threats of an armed attack.

This was an attempt to overthrow the Constitution of the United States. The law enforcement response must be commensurate with the gravity of the criminal intent. Every person involved, including those who helped to incite these actions using lies and false promises about changing the results of the election, must face criminal prosecution.

Less than an hour before the attack began, Donald Trump urged a mob to storm the Capitol and later condoned their actions. Earlier, his personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani called for “trial by combat”; he later said they were on the right side of history—paramilitary conspirators waving the treason flag of the Confederacy.

Our democratic republic belongs to all of us, and it is sustained not by its leaders but by the people and by the rule of law. No person is above the law—not the President, not his lawyers, not those in Congress who would assist him in his seditious conspiracy.

Sen. Mitch McConnell rightly warned that the baseless effort by members of the House and Senate to nullify Electoral College votes, lawfully certified by all of the states, was not a “protest vote”, because “public doubt alone [cannot] justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.” He added:

The voters, the court, and the states have all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever… If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.

He recognized this even as yesterday’s Senate runoff in Georgia deprived him of the powers of Senate Majority Leader. Today, he was one of those defending democracy; for all of us who have disagreed with him on so many things, today, we are on the same side.

Rebuilding our democracy starts today—as we begin to distinguish between those who recognize democracy is a higher cause than their own power and those who would betray their country to seize power.

As we move to rebuild our democracy, I want to thank:

  • All those who serve in public office at all levels with honor and conscience, in good faith, seeking only to be of service and never seeking favor for themselves;
  • All of the Democrats who have so persistently and steadfastly opposed the evils inherent in Trump’s dangerous abuse of our politics;
  • Those Republicans who have spoken out forcefully against this madness; your courage, even in the face of terroristic threats, will help us to keep this republic.

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