Tribune Editorial: False accusations of voter fraud lead to treasonous violence on Capitol Hill

President and his supporters share the blame for these acts of insurrection.

(Erin Schaff | The New York Times) People protesting the presidential election results inside the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2020. The Capitol building was placed on lockdown, with senators and members of the House locked inside their chambers, as Congress began debating President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. President Trump addressed supporters near the White House before protesters marched to Capitol Hill.

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

Constitution of the United States, Article III, Section 3

Wednesday’s violent assault on the United States Capitol building, the likes of which have not been seen since the British attack on Washington during the War of 1812, is a direct result of deliberate incitements from Donald Trump.

These incitements have been supported by some Republican members of Congress, including Utah’s Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens.

One Republican who is telling the truth about all of this is Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.

“This is what the president has caused today,” Romney told a New York Times reporter in the midst of chaos, “this insurrection.”

This was as close to a coup as we’ve experienced since the Civil War. It was not a protest. It was not a riot. It was an armed insurrection. The rebellion against the lawful authority of the United States breached the security — the sanctity — of the people’s house. It forced the House and the Senate to interrupt their constitutional duty, our Capitol to be locked down, our public officials to flee.

Any public official who doesn’t call it out for what it is, and who is to blame, is an accessory to treason.

Any elected official who continues to support this president, who took even a minor role in his seditious plot to overturn the results of the 2020 election and give Trump the faintest chance of remaining in power, owns this.

It should be no surprise that Trump and his followers, spreading rumors and lies about supposedly fraudulent elections, voicing support for phony objections to the counting of Electoral College votes that was violently disrupted, either wanted something like this to happen or were criminally negligent in failing to see this was the likely outcome.

Before the building was breached, Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas were making what should have been a meaningless, time-wasting argument about minorities of Americans mistrusting the election, a mistrust that would be far less common if Cruz and his allies hadn’t been encouraging it.

The violence that soon forced that debate to end did not just follow the senator’s argument, it was caused by it.

Wan tweets from Trump, Owens, Stewart and others about how violence is not the way to solve anything are pathetic attempts to put the genie back in the bottle. It was all too little, too late.

Romney, a leader among those Republicans who wanted no part of this seditious ploy, got a foretaste of Wednesday’s anarchy when he was taunted and insulted by passengers on his flight back to Washington. Romney and Rep. John Curtis had the good sense and political courage to oppose the challenges of electoral votes that, for all of its flagrant foolishness, was a tolerable form of protest.

The attack on the Capitol was in no way acceptable. The words of the president, from his call months ago for right-wing thugs to “stand by” to his Wednesday rally inciting protests, lit the fuse for this obscene incident.

The administration of the worst president in American history will end Jan. 20. Whether the Republican Party lasts much longer is in question. And if it dies as a result of this uprising, it will have had it coming.

That would be a loss for America. With Democrats about to control the presidency, the House and, probably, the Senate, America deserves a legitimate opposition party to keep the rulers honest.

But unless Republicans join together to denounce not only the attack on the Capitol, but also the president who incited it, their right to have anything to say about how this nation is governed going forward will have been forfeited.