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George Pyle: Stewart and Owens must go. And take Trump with them.

(Jose Luis Magana | AP photo) In this Jan. 6 photo, rioting supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Historians say Trump’s legacy and his electoral undoing will be largely shaped by rhetoric aimed at stirring his largely white base that tugged at the long-frayed strands of race relations in America.

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

14th Amendment to The Constitution of the United States, Section 3

Two members of Utah’s delegation to the Congress of The United States qualify under this article to be expelled from office.

Reps. Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens each voted to deprive the citizens of the state of Pennsylvania of their voice in the presidential election.

They did so without a single valid bit of evidence of fraud or irregularities in that state. They did so for one reason and one reason only: To overturn the results of a free and fair election and retain Donald Trump in office. Or, perhaps more practically, as the rebellion was almost certain to fail, to toady up to Trump and endear themselves to the tribes of the outgoing president’s fascist, racist and treasonous followers.

It would be a crime for them to stay in office, much less for them to benefit politically from being complicit in this open rebellion.

That the president is guilty of treason is without doubt. Wednesday he openly called for his followers to march on the U.S. Capitol, not peaceably to assemble and petition for a redress of grievances, but to take the building by force and prevent the final constitutional step in the election of the next president.

This was without question an act of rebellion. Among the invaders of this sacred space were people carrying weapons who were open about their desire to seize such duly elected officials as the vice president of the United States and the speaker of the House of Representatives. Some were apparently keen on murdering them, or at least holding them hostage until they achieved their goal.

It is to the credit, overall, of Congress and its leaders that the invasion not only did not succeed, but also apparently turned a few of those who had been prepared to play along to abandon the cause of treason. Even some members of Congress who think their purpose in life is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer were rightly and deeply offended that so many of their fellow Americans have so little respect and regard for the institutions of our nation that they would turn to violence to stop its process.

Those members of Congress who still voted to set aside state election results even after it had become clear whose side they were on — including Owens, Stewart, Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas — have forfeited their right to any public office.

The business of Congress, first among equals in our constitutional system, is now to impeach and remove the sitting president. Even if he only has a few more days in office. In addition to the great symbolic value of such an act, removal would rightly deprive Trump of his status, pension, protection and, probably most important of all, any access to classified information and intelligence briefings, which are clearly not secure in his care.

Those who argue that this final act of cleansing the presidency would only serve to further inflame Trump’s supporters and divide America are wrong. Clearly, there is little that could divide America further. And allowing violent criminals to walk away in the interest of “healing” makes no sense. In this case, such appeasement would only embolden these American fascists to strike again.

There are already rumblings of further armed demonstrations and riots, in Washington and in state capitals. They must be put down, by force if necessary, not coddled and forgiven.

Owens and Stewart might have one last opportunity to redeem themselves, if not enough to retain their offices, at least to leave them with some small sense of dignity.

Articles of Impeachment were introduced in the House Monday. All of Utah’s delegation should vote for those articles, and both of its senators should vote for conviction of the president as soon as the opportunity arises.

Trump must go. And all of his supporters must go with him.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) George Pyle.

George Pyle is the opinion editor of The Salt Lake Tribune.

gpyle@sltrib.com

Twitter, @debatestate




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