The election was not stolen.
Joe Biden won. Donald Trump lost.
This simple and obvious fact has been confirmed over and over again. The election officials of all 50 states – many of them Republicans – have confirmed the outcome. Where margins were thin or there were credible claims of irregularities, audits have been performed. No serious problems were found.
Biden won the popular election by more than 7 million votes, and he won the Electoral College 306-232. Period.
Chris Krebs, the head of the federal election security agency, called the 2020 balloting “the most secure in American history.” Attorney General William Barr announced that no evidence of widespread fraud was found by the Justice Department. Both were Trump appointees, and both were forced out of their positions after standing up to the man who put them there.
Dozens of lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign or Republican attorneys general seeking to overturn the results of the election have been tossed out of court.
And yet the president has continued to insist the election was stolen, despite clear and irrefutable evidence to the contrary.
He even went so far as to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state, in an hourlong phone call, to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in that state. Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, refused to be intimidated by the head of his own party into falsifying election results.
On Wednesday, Trump went further still.
As Congress was beginning the ceremonial task of counting the Electoral College votes to affirm Biden’s presidential win, Trump spoke to thousands of supporters at a rally outside the White House. Still insisting the election had been stolen from him, he urged his followers to walk to the Capitol and back the Republican lawmakers who had pledged to challenge the results, saying “you will never take back our country with weakness.”
Throngs of Trump loyalists, goaded by the president’s lies about a rigged election, stormed the Capitol, where they fought with police and broke into the building, disrupting the vote count and forcing lawmakers to take shelter from the rampage.
The mayhem was Donald Trump’s doing.
He loaded the gun, cocked it and pointed it at Congress. Then he sat back and watched on TV while all hell broke loose.
One of Trump’s supporters, 35-year-old Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, was shot to death by a Capitol Police officer. Mr. President, her blood is on your hands.
Three others died after suffering medical emergencies, and dozens of police officers were injured. Mr. President, that is your doing as well.
Trump’s deeply cynical gambit failed. Hours after the mob invaded the Capitol, Congress reconvened to complete the counting of Electoral College votes and affirm Biden’s election. Leading the process was Vice President Mike Pence, who resisted ferocious pressure from the president to perform his constitutional duty with dignity and decorum.
The same cannot be said for 138 Republican House members and seven GOP senators who insisted on raising pointless objections to the ceremonial vote counting. They, too, bear responsibility for what happened on Wednesday.
This sorry episode, the culmination of weeks of bogus claims of election fraud by the president and his enablers, strikes at the heart of our democratic institutions and represents an existential threat to our republic.
The rioters must be prosecuted.
Republicans in Congress must unanimously condemn Trump’s actions in fanning the flames of partisan hatred with his lies.
And this president, who recklessly unleashed a mob on the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn the results of a free and fair election, must immediately be removed from office.
Many Democrats and a growing number of Republicans have called on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare the president unfit to perform the duties of his office. While it’s hard to argue with that assessment, this path would set a dangerous precedent that could be used against future chief executives for political purposes.
A better path would be one Congress has gone down before with Trump: impeachment. Only this time, instead of putting party before country, Republicans must remember their oath to defend the Constitution and hold this rogue president accountable for his high crimes and misdemeanors.