To discourage future demagogues and insurrectionists, the President must be removed from office
Good evening. Voting in the 2020 presidential election ended 66 days ago. It’s been two days since the last insurrection. The inauguration happens in 12 days.
This newsletter was premised on the notion that this particular interregnum would be different than most. On Wednesday, we learned it is likely to be amongst the most historic and consequential in American history. In the last edition, my collaborator Greg Greene was right to return to first principles: “We vote, and we agree to abide by the results.” That is what a democracy is. Because this President of the United States has shown that he is unwilling to abide by that principle, there is only one outcome that will preserve our democracy. He must be removed. And because of the unique and awesome powers that are vested in the Office of the President, he must be removed now.
The Vice President apparently opposes the use of the 25th Amendment to remove the President, so House Democrats are moving toward impeachment, even if not as quickly as some would prefer. A vote will come as early as Tuesday next week. And then, it will be up to the Senate. Achieving the two-thirds majority required to remove the President will still be a challenge- but cracks are already starting to show. Ben Sasse, R-NE, said yesterday he was open to impeachment. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, said this afternoon that President Trump should resign, and questioned her own future as a member of the Republican party.
There is the logistical question of whether a trial can be conducted before Trump’s term ends at noon on the 20th of January. There should be time for a speedy trial, but many experts say a President can be tried in the Senate even after he leaves office. "Once an impeachment begins in the House, it may continue to a Senate trial. I don't see any constitutional problem with the Senate acting fast or slowly," Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told NBC News. He wrote extensively as to why in Just Security.
Further, Donald Trump could be barred from office for life. The Senate would only “need a simple majority to block President Trump from future office — which amounts to the added support of one to three Republicans, depending on when Georgia’s newly-elected senators are sworn in — instead of the two-thirds vote required to remove someone from office,” according to Austin Landis. Ed Kilgore concurs- “a ban on a Trump presidential comeback is the only sanction left within Congress’s power.”
All of these remedies must be pursued- for they are necessary to preserve our Constitution- now and in the future. Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States of America and its Constitution. Remove.
Incredibly, moments before we were prepared to publish this edition, Donald Trump was subject to what Trump biographer Gwenda Blair likened to “virtual impeachment” in Politico today. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday his company would lock Trump’s accounts through Inauguration Day, saying that “the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.” And now, the unthinkable has finally happened; Twitter has removed Donald Trump’s account permanently.
This is without a doubt the right move. As my American Interregnum collaborator, Melissa Ryan argued two years ago, “Newsworthiness isn’t a legitimate excuse for the continued enabling of harassment and extremism.” But as important as it is that Trump’s account is no longer available to him to incite violence and hate, the damage is done. As I argued on Tech Policy Press, we may never see another Tweet from Donald Trump, but the violence and hate he incited there and on the other platforms is impossible to remove from the network. It will for years continue activate people in ways we cannot predict.
Finally, there’s one more person that doesn’t wish to hear from Donald Trump again: President-elect Joe Biden:
Impeach him. Remove him. Ban him. Exile him. Expel him. “He’s been an embarrassment to the country, embarrassed us around the world. Not worthy, not worthy to hold that office,” said Biden. Indeed- and he should not hold it for one more minute.
Driving the Conversation
MAGA World Is Splintering: Following the riot at the Capitol, Trump supporters are having an existential crisis on Twitter. Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic.
The coalition, in other words, is experiencing a schism—and you can watch it on Twitter, or by flipping through Instagram Stories. As soon as #StopTheSteal went offline in a serious, dangerous way, everyone who had been posting about it had to choose a side, or a reality. Broadly, the Republican establishment and its voters have had to grapple with whether they want to continue claiming the party’s radical flank. Wednesday “was probably the most visceral experience of watching a political party fracture,” says Joan Donovan, the research director at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. “It seems to me that we’re in the midst of watching MAGA become its own movement.”
Jamie Raskin Lost His Son. Then He Fled a Mob. John Hendrickson, The Atlantic.
I reached out to Raskin yesterday because he had been through more in one week than most people experience in a lifetime: He lost his son to suicide, he and his daughter survived a rampage, and, in the hours before we talked, he began working with two colleagues to prepare articles of impeachment against the president of the United States. “The president is a lethal danger to the American republic and the American people,” Raskin told me. “There has been nothing like this since the Civil War.”
Why Donald Trump’s Twitter account should belong to all of us. Graham Lampa, The Washington Post.
The question shouldn’t be left up to Twitter. By using it to announce official decisions, the president has forfeited any claim to the @realDonaldTrump account. The government should accordingly retain control over the account when the president leaves office. This matter is even more urgent now that the attack on the Capitol grounds has shown that the president’s own use of the account is a clear and present danger to public safety.
America in danger. Felix Salmon, Axios.
Americans, who are used to being winners, now look around and see a country that can't secure its own seat of government... that struggles to distribute a vaccine... that was cyber-looted by Russia... that was half a year late with a stimulus plan both sides wanted... that can't even orchestrate a peaceful transition of power. Why it matters: This is weakness, not strength. The democracy that President-elect Biden will take over is tattered, archaic, precarious.
While the Trump administration is burning down, the Biden administration is quickly taking shape. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris announced additional Members of the National Security Council, new staff in the Office of the Vice President, new leaders at the Department of Justice, and members of his economic team.
Moment of Zen
You deserve two this week. First, one of my favorite reporters, CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, was on Capitol Hill this week. Donie, as you might have noticed, is Irish. And o’boy, aren’t they proud of him back home:
And we all need a (political) laugh tonight:
American Interregnum is a pop-up newsletter covering the issues and ideas that will define the Presidential transition period from Nov. 3, 2020, through — are we there yet? — Jan. 21, 2021. It is written and edited by Justin Hendrix, Greg Greene, and Melissa Ryan. Have questions or comments? We love your feedback. Reply directly to this email. We read all responses and respond to most.