This editorial was updated at 5:34 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.
Donald Trump needs to be relieved of duty now. He is and has long been a danger to the United States. Already he is promising to be more of a danger, and in the next two weeks his rage will only grow, especially since his ploy to stop Congress' certification of Joe Biden as the next president backfired after he threw gasoline on the bonfire he's been stoking since he first took office four long, horrible years ago.
Trump made his clear and present danger so vividly apparent Wednesday that even some of his close allies backed away, and a shaken Congress and Senate reconvened to certify Biden's win after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
As the certification process began earlier in the day, Trump spent 70 minutes rallying a crowd in what was billed as a "protest" on the Ellipse. Trump falsely told the crowd for the umpteenth time that he had won the election, that it was being stolen from him, that he would never concede and that "you will never take back our country with weakness." He told the crowd that chanted "fight for Trump" that "we will walk to the Capitol now."
And all that was after Rudy Giuliani warmed up the crowd, calling for "trial by combat" against the Democrats to win the election. Donald Trump Jr. also had talked to the crowd about the Republicans who did not back Trump's challenge. "We're coming for you," Junior yelled.
The president of the United States threw gasoline on a fire that he had deliberately set and incited the riot that left one woman fatally shot, three others dead from apparent medical emergencies during the seige, injured 14 police officers, and forced House and Senate members to dive under desks or barricade themselves in offices for hours.
The mob — many carrying Confederate flags and Trump flags as well as Trump signs — smashed windows, vandalized and ransacked Democratic offices, and sat in the very seat that Vice President Pence used as he presided as president of the Senate. They put their feet up on Nancy Pelosi's desk and wrote threats.
For more than an hour, they roamed freely throughout a Capitol seemingly devoid of guards and law enforcement. That fact seemed strange in and of itself since everyone knew protests were planned. The mayor of Washington, D.C., three days before had requested National Guard help. The New York Times wrote Thursday, "Mr. Trump [on Wednesday] initially rebuffed requests to mobilize the National Guard, according to a person with knowledge of the events. It required intervention from Mr. [ Pat] Cipollone [the White House Counsel], among other officials, according to the person."
Eventually, about 1,750 National Guard troops from the District of Columbia and Virginia were deployed Wednesday night, a National Guard spokesman said.
As the horrifying scenes played out — scenes like Secret Service agents with guns drawn at the barricaded House Chamber doors as a rioter smashed through the door windows — Trump aides told news workers that the president sat in the Oval Office watching it on TV and berating news reports about it.
What didn't happen? Trump didn't immediately take to Twitter or the airways to condemn the action. He didn't demand the rioters stop, leave the Capitol, go home. Instead he tweeted to them to "stay peaceful," and be nice to Capitol police who "are on the side of our country." He advised them to "remember the day forever." Twitter removed most of the tweets and finally locked his account.
Trump clearly enjoyed the mayhem, and he let it go on and on, the scenes making an indelible mark on the American psyche — finally creating the "American carnage" Trump falsely talked of in his inauguration speech four years before.
Much later he tweeted a video including this: "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long."
But finally Trump told the mob to go home, "with love & in peace."
And he added, "We love you. You're very special."
No. They were lawless rioters. And Trump is, too.