Editor’s Note: Andre M. Perry is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of the book, “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities.” The views expressed here are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
President Donald J. Trump is an immoral force in the most powerful office in the world, and he must be stopped. Since falsely equating peaceful protesters and White supremacists in the aftermath of Charlottesville in his first year in office, Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he is incapable of making morally sound choices. Worse, he intentionally makes debased ones that harm people, governmental institutions and sacred traditions in order to enrich himself. Consequently, Congress, the criminal justice system and the general public must hold Trump accountable.
Trump should be impeached. Congress should invoke the 25th Amendment, which would have the Vice President assume the President’s responsibilities. But more needs to happen. Criminal charges, when appropriate, must be brought. His social media accounts should be suspended. Mark Zuckerberg announced that Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts are suspended for at least the “the next two weeks.” Other providers should declare the same, and any future attempts to spread misinformation should ban Trump indefinitely. To do otherwise is to replicate the behaviors that fueled his rise in politics, catering to his debauched, selfish whims.
In an astoundingly brazen attack on democracy, Trump pressured Georgia state officials to overturn their presidential election results. We, the people, can’t continue to enable Trump’s deranged pursuit of authoritarian rule.
Unbelievably, there are people who argue that in order to maintain peace, we should simply sidestep Trump’s corrupt behavior. In his new book, former FBI Director James Comey advised Joe Biden to “not pursue a criminal investigation of Donald Trump no matter how compelling the roadmap left” no matter “how powerful the evidence strewn across his history of porn stars and financial fraud.”
Although the book was written before Wednesday’s events, Comey’s attempt to take the high road with Trump, supposedly to rebuild trust between the public and the Justice Department, misses the mark on what actually brings civility: fairness, justice and accountability. In addition, Trump’s influence on society isn’t going to magically disappear like he, a self-proclaimed “very stable genius,” said the coronavirus would.
The physical threats to members of Congress, other officials and the media aren’t going to vanish either when Trump leaves office.
On the very day when Congress was supposed to confirm the presidential election result, Trump incited a riot. Across the country pro-Trump mobs targeted state capitols. It’s beyond clear that Trump has shown an inability to stop his reckless behavior. Comey clearly needs to make some serious edits to the book.
Trump is a person who separated immigrant children from their parents and pardoned debased felons. The self-described “law and order” President sicced the military on peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters and has encouraged police to use overwhelming force against these protesters while he rallies Confederate flag-waving hate groups and militia.
The stage of the presidency has helped Trump radicalize thousands (of mostly White people) to do his evil bidding. Moreover, his environmental, immigration and tax policies will cause harm long after Trump leaves office. The regularity of his debauchery has lulled us into forgetting he retreated to his dark hole of selfishness in the fight against Covid-19. If all that doesn’t inform you that we must take any opportunity to stop him, then you probably share the same moral compass as Trump.
Sadly, five people died in this iniquitous insurrection. If Trump’s left unchecked, more people likely will.
Protesters who stormed the Capitol should be identified and arrested. The FBI announced that it is asking for help in identifying the rioters.
There’s still more than a week left in his term, and he still has command of the military. Recognizing Trump’s impetuous, vindictive nature and his deranged belief that he won the presidential election, the 10 living former defense secretaries cosigned an unprecedented op-ed in the Washington Post on Sunday, writing, “Efforts to involve the US armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory.” Trump is vastly unfit to serve in the role of President. The 25th Amendment is there for moments like these.
The night before the tragic day of the riot, we saw in the Georgia runoff Senate elections how we should settle differences in a democracy – by voting. Trump lacks the moral rectitude and courage to accept defeat in a fair election. We the people who accept principles like fairness cannot exhibit the same lack of strength when holding Trump accountable.