Last Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol looked really, really bad as it was happening. Over the weekend, as more videos and information came out, it looked worse and worse. From video of the Trump-supporting terrorists beating a police officer with flag poles and crushing an officer in a door to the authorities’ refusal to hold a briefing to tell the nation what they know about what happened, how many people are injured, and what they’re doing to prevent this from happening again, the assault on the Capitol increasingly looks like an organized and serious coup attempt with some level of complicity in Congress and at the Pentagon. That’s one reason it’s so important for the House to impeach Donald Trump now, first, right away—because there’s good reason to believe other shoes are going to drop. When that happens, Democrats need to be ready to move.
House Democrats are planning to introduce an article of impeachment Monday morning: “incitement of insurrection.” That’s good—but it would have been better to do it over the weekend, in line with the urgency of the moment. We know now how close we came to members of Congress being publicly beaten to death by a mob whipped up by Trump. Even allowing for the trauma members of Congress are dealing with, that’s not a “take a weekend off” situation.
Wednesday we saw pictures of bros milling around giving thumbs up and grinning as they put their feet on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office or carried away a lectern. Since then, we’ve seen more evidence of how many were wearing tactical gear and moving in coordinated ways, of members of hate groups in the Capitol, of preparation for serious violence.
“That was a heavily trained group of militia terrorists that attacked us,” a Black officer who has been in the Capitol Police for more than a decade told BuzzFeed. “They had radios, we found them, they had two-way communicators and earpieces. They had bear spray. They had flash bangs ... They were prepared. They strategically put two IEDs, pipe bombs, in two different locations. These guys were military trained. A lot of them were former military.”
Every detail that emerges shows how serious this was, and how seriously the government should be taking it. That is not what’s happening, with Trump-appointed Pentagon officials giving the coup a name that actively downplays it and—it cannot be emphasized enough—law enforcement not having given one briefing of the sort that would be absolutely standard after any significant event.
One Republican member of Congress who did condemn the coup attempt claimed some of his Republican colleagues voted to overturn the election results out of fear for themselves and their families. “One of the saddest things is I had colleagues who, when it came time to recognize reality and vote to certify Arizona and Pennsylvania in the Electoral College, they knew in their heart of hearts that they should've voted to certify, but some had legitimate concerns about the safety of their families. They felt that that vote would put their families in danger,” Rep. Peter Meijer said.
But even if that’s true, it’s a reason to act firmly now, before things get worse. They won’t have less to fear if they allow Trump’s insurrection to continue growing.
The weekend also brought news of yet another attempt by Trump to coerce an official into overturning Georgia's election results. But one amazing thing about this weekend was that, following Trump’s permanent Twitter suspension on Friday night, we didn’t get a blow by blow of Trump’s moods and whims all weekend. It’s kind of weird and disorienting, to be honest, but also freeing and wonderful.