As Democrats impeached Donald Trump for the second time by accusing him of inciting a violent mob to attack the United States capitol last week, a day of drama played out in Washington DC.
It was a day of emotional speeches, appeals for peace, warnings of danger and remorse over how the country has found itself caught up in times of chaos amid a real fear of civil unrest, triggered by a president who has refused to accept he lost an election.
The historic day – no president has ever been impeached twice – saw a fair share of remarkable speeches and statements that incapsulated these extraordinary times.
Here are some key quotes.
What is at stake
“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” said House speaker Nancy Pelosi as she opened arguments for the impeachment of Trump and pulled no punches in spelling out what she believed was at risk.
Stop posing as victims
Congressman Jaime Raskin of Maryland, the lead impeachment manager for the Democrats, laid the blame for the riot squarely with the pro-Trump mob, memorably dismissing their complaints of being victims, rather than just the losing side in a democratic process.
“It’s a bit much to be hearing that these people would not be trying to destroy our government and kill us if we just weren’t so mean to them,” he said.
Context and a moment of hope
Congressman Adam Schiff of California was a favorite target of Trump during the first impeachment. In his speech, the Democrat placed America’s current travails firmly in the context of history – and added a rare moment of hope that this, too, shall pass.
“America has been through a civil war, world wars, a Great Depression, pandemics, McCarthyism, and now a Trumpist and white nationalist insurrection. And yet our democracy endures,” he said.
Telling it like it is
Freshman Missouri congresswoman Cori Bush told it like it was.
“The 117th Congress must understand that we have a mandate to legislate in defense of Black lives. The first step in that process is to root out white supremacy, starting with impeaching the white supremacist-in-chief,” Bush said.
Bush was backed up by congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota who clearly felt enough was finally enough.
“For years we have been asked to turn a blind eye to the criminality, corruption and blatant disregard to the rule of law by the tyrant president we have in the White House. We as a nation can no longer look away,” she said.
Appealing to Republicans
There was some hope that Republicans could be persuaded to join the impeachment effort. Democratic congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia gave it his best shot.
“The American people are asking is there any depravity too low? Is there any outrage too far? Is there any blood and violence too much to turn hearts and minds in this body? Instead of the usual justification, rationalization and enabling and false equivalence we have to hear?” Connolly asked, looking at Republican members. “This is a moment of truth my friends. Are you on the side of chaos and the mob? Or on the side of Constitutional democracy and our freedom?”
A Republican turns on his president
Dan Newhouse, a Republican congressman from Washington, was one of the few in his party to vote against Trump and for his impeachment.
“A vote against this impeachment is a vote to validate the unacceptable violence we witnessed in our nation’s capital. It is also a vote to condone President Trump’s inaction. He did not strongly condemn the attack nor did he call in reinforcements when our officers were overwhelmed. Our country needed a leader, and President Trump failed to fulfill his oath of office,” he said.
Distraction, distraction, distraction
Many Republicans have chosen to defend Trump by largely ignoring the attack on the Capitol in favor of slamming Democrats and positing that the real issue is the fact that Trump and some other rightwingers have been banned from some social media websites in an act of “cancel culture”.
Trump’s favorite attack dog, congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, led the pack.
“We should be focused on bringing the nation together. Instead Democrats are going to impeach the president for a second time one week before he leaves office. Why? Why? Politics. And the fact they want to cancel the president,” he said.
QAnon congresswoman blames BLM and the Democrats
Marjorie Taylor Greene, who once espoused the racist QAnon conspiracy theory, gave a short and impassioned speech saying that the real problem the country faced was Democratic support for the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.
“President Trump has held over 600 rallies in the last 4 years. None of them included assaulting police, destroying businesses or burning down cities. Democrats have spent all this time endorsing and enabling violent riots that left billions in property damage and 47 dead,” Greene said, wearing a face mask that said “censored” on it.
Greene did not seem to pick up on the irony that she was claiming to be censored while delivering a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, which was broadcast on national television and around the world.
The last word
For many watching, New York congressman Hakeem Jeffries summed things up the best.
“Donald Trump is a living, breathing impeachable offense. It is what it is,” he said.
Source: US Politics - theguardian.com