All but six senators supporting objections to the counting of Arizona’s electoral college votes slunk away when it came time to cast final votes. Consider those who remained the Dirty Half Dozen: Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Roger Marshall (Kan.) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.).
The first two, as you could tell from their vapid and utterly contentless remarks, knew they had no legitimate basis for seeking to overthrow the duly elected government. Theirs was an act of sedition — a cynical attempt to pander to the rioters, many of whom had trashed the Capitol. The other four, I strongly suspect, simply are not very bright. Ideally, their colleagues should expel them, or at least toss them out of the Republican caucus.
Cruz, Hawley and Kennedy should face disbarment. They have violated their oaths, stoked a violent mob and attempted to tear down democracy.
On the House side, 121 Republicans — a substantial majority of the caucus, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) — voted to overturn the Arizona election results based on nothing but conspiracies and their own lust for power. The rest of the Republican caucus might considering splitting with the party so as to not be wiped out when voters come seeking to oust the traitors to democracy. In any event, all 121 should face primary or third-party challenges. They, too, are unfit to serve. (In all, 139 representatives voted to sustain the Arizona and/or Pennsylvania objections.)
Rumors flew Wednesday night that there were discussions among Cabinet members about invoking the 25th Amendment. Progressive members of the House took to social media to urge impeachment. The Washington Post’s editorial board endorsed removing him from office: “Responsibility for this act of sedition lies squarely with the president, who has shown that his continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to U.S. democracy. He should be removed.”
Over at the White House, a few stray aides resigned. Now they leave? They have enabled a president far too long to escape censure for their role in this catastrophe.
Vanity Fair reported, “White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was urging White House officials not to speak to Trump or enable his coup attempt in any way, so they could reduce the chance they could be prosecuted for treason under the Sedition Act.” If true, this would suggest Cipollone, who defended Trump during impeachment (making a slew of specious factual assertions and dubious legal arguments), thinks Trump is committing sedition. If so, he should scramble to advise Congress to impeach and remove Trump, as so many others are suggesting. He might also think back on his role in enabling Trump to remain in office, only to commit more impeachable acts, as many of us predicted.
On the Senate floor, speeches ranged from breathtaking to the truly awful. In the former category, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, bellowed: “No congressional-led audit will ever convince those voters, particularly when the president will continue to claim that the election was stolen. The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth.” An ovation followed. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., spoke emotionally about the assault on democracy and the sight of the mob carrying a Confederate battle flag through the Capitol.
On the other end of the spectrum, Hawley and Cruz stumbled through nonsensical arguments. Cruz was concerned because there are so many darn people who do not trust the results. Hawley attacked Pennsylvania’s pre-election rule changes.
The response from Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., decimated Hawley. Hawley was seeking to “overturn the results of the presidential election in Pennsylvania, and thereby deny the voters of Pennsylvania to even participate in the presidential election,” Toomey said. He pointed out that of the ballots arriving after Election Day, about 10,000 were excluded from the vote. He marched through a series of other claims, including the specious assertion that fraud that was not investigated. There was no such evidence to support the Trump lawyers’ claims.
Toomey quoted from the conservative federal district court judge who threw out the Pennsylvania case, a decision upheld by a circuit court panel of three judges (all Republican appointees). And he finished by explaining there was nothing anomalous about the election’s outcome; the 2-point shift in the vote since 2016 in Democrats’ favor is easily explained by President-elect Joe Biden’s improvement in the suburbs around Philadelphia and Trump’s slight decline in some rural counties. Toomey dubbed Trump a demagogue, but inexplicably said he had hoped Trump would win. (That’s the irrational, soulless GOP for you. And Toomey is one of the “sane” ones.)
The insanity was not yet over. When the call of the states reached Pennsylvania, Hawley and Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., objected. This time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not allow debate. The vote was 92-7 with Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., joining the Seditious Six. (Why they didn’t object to Arizona earlier is unknown.) Kennedy did not object for reasons that are unclear.
We are left with a raving commander in chief who needs to be removed immediately — a demagogue seeking to burn down democracy on his way out the door. Trump was egged on by a hodgepodge of careerists, cult followers and truly despicable members of Congress. They in turn were prodded by right-wing media personalities. Collectively, they induced a mob to violence and disgraced our country. The only consolation is that this travesty will end some careers and, we pray, obliterate a thoroughly discredited party that abandoned democracy.
Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion for The Washington Post.