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(4,972 posts)
Tue Feb 16, 2021, 05:46 AM Feb 2021

Block Trump from office with the 14th Amendment's aiding an insurrection exclusion [View all]


Chris Deaton
Opinion contributor

Taking Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell at his word, the buck for former President Donald Trump’s incitement of the U.S. Capitol mob should stop somewhere — just not in his house. “He didn’t get away with anything yet,” McConnell said on Saturday evening, after enough Republican senators voted to acquit the former president of an impeachment charge. “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation.” Stipulated. But we still have a Congress, too.

McConnell made the case that Trump was guilty of an offense punishable by more than a Senate floor speech. The upshot of the top Senate Republican’s remarks is that he believes Trump is the but-for cause of the Jan. 6 insurrection, whose participants assaulted the Capitol “in his name,” carried “his banners,” hung “his flags” and screamed “their loyalty — to him.” His assessment was plain: “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”
Options beyond censure, conviction

The question was left open, though, of who is responsible for penalizing the provocation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed the idea of a congressional censure: “We censure people for using stationery for the wrong purpose. We don’t censure people for inciting insurrection that kills people in the Capitol.” McConnell’s suggestion that district attorneys’ offices could take it from here if they choose is accurate — but it also reveals his perspective that Congress’ work is finished in the meantime. It shouldn’t be. By the GOP’s timid standards, McConnell’s comments and the surprising seven Republican votes for conviction were an authorization for use of political force against the former president. Now, more than at any point in the previous four years, there appears to be a window for bipartisan accountability on Capitol Hill.

If Congress lacked accountability mechanisms other than impeachment or censure, it’d be one thing. But it’s not wanting for options. One of them is enforcement of Section Three of the 14th Amendment, which states that no state or federal office holder “who, having previously taken an oath … 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.”

In other words: No second chance to place your hand on the Bible and repeat after the judge if you were an insurrectionist the first go-round. This novel idea was floated by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Tim Kaine, D-Va. It merits widespread consideration now, given how it meshes with the emerging Republican position on Trump’s culpability for Jan. 6 and Congress’ capability for responding to it.

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