President Donald Trump has been impeached a second time — a fitting disgrace for a leader who has besmirched his office, betrayed his oath and fomented violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol.
To their credit, 10 Republicans saw the gravity of the situation and joined to make the impeachment the most bipartisan in U.S. history. Chief among them was Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, who made the case against Trump in plain and forceful terms: "The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack," she said. "Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the president.
"The president could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."
Disappointingly, not one Minnesota Republican stood with her. Reps. Tom Emmer, Pete Stauber, Jim Hagedorn and Michelle Fischbach all voted against impeaching a president who incited an attack against his own government that jeopardized the lives of every member of Congress and Trump's own vice president.
Now comes the second but equally important task to ensure that this country can put this terrible episode behind it and rebuild: Trump must be convicted in the Senate on as bipartisan a vote as possible. Conviction would send a convincing message to friend and foe alike that leaders cannot seize power in this country and that those who try will be dealt harsh consequences.
Just as important: Conviction and a subsequent simple-majority vote would ensure that Trump could never again run for federal office in this country. He would not be able to hold himself out — either to his "movement" or to foreign leaders — as someone who could return to office.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who soon will lead the powerful Rules Committee as part of the Democratic Senate majority, said that Trump "literally sent people to attack the other branch of government." In the ensuing days, she said, he's made it clear that he won't stop. Indeed, he has continued to peddle the big lie of the stolen election and refused to admit responsibility for the attack that injured dozens and claimed five lives, including that of a Capitol officer.
"You can't just let that go," she said. Conviction and a lifetime ban on running, she said, "is the remedy."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, soon to take Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's place in leading the majority, said that even if it must wait until the new Congress — as McConnell has signaled — there will be a trial. Seventeen Republicans will be needed for conviction.
We hope Republicans undertake a serious soul-searching and acknowledge that before unity and healing must come accountability. If they need inspiration, they need go no further than the armed soldiers now bivouacked across Capitol Hill, including those sleeping in the hallways of the Capitol itself, on 24-hour guard against a potential second attack by fellow Americans.
Presidents are more than leaders of the country. They are the guardians of its narrative, its vision and character. They help define us as a people. The Trump years have shown us an ugliness that must be rooted out, with a national recommitment to democratic values. That is what will keep America great.