President Trump’s actions after the 2020 election were reckless and immoral.

It deserves much repeating this year that–as admitted on Congressional record by the Republican leader of the Senate–the 2024 GOP presidential candidate was “practically and morally responsible” for provoking an attack on the U.S. Capitol and our representatives. And worse, while he remained in office, sworn to protect the United States, he didn’t lift a finger to stop the attack for hours, and by accounts from his own staff was pleased and hoping his mob of fans could help him overturn an election that had already been legally contested, investigated, recounted, and certified in every state. The will of the people had been counted and recounted and he didn’t like it.

The Capitol attack and dereliction of duty of the President as it unfolded was a national embarrassment watched by millions live, and he’s not only unrepentant but continues to lie and even lionizes and promises to pardon the criminal attackers. The only punishment has been of his post-election team, as they lose enormous defamation cases and their freedoms, with courts being one of the few places where baseless, fantastical lies aren’t permitted as part of the game of politics.

No conservative should be expected to vote for a Democrat, but consider writing in a conservative who will stand by election outcomes and protect the U.S. when it’s attacked. These are low bars and we should demand Presidential candidates step over them.

(McConnell’s speech from the Senate floor, emphasis mine)

January 6th was a disgrace. American citizens attacked their own government. They used terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of domestic business they did not like. Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the Senate floor. They tried to hunt down the Speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the Vice President. They did this because they’d been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth because he was angry he lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty. The House accused the former President of quote “Incitement”. That is a specific term from the criminal law. Let me just put that aside for a moment and reiterate something I said weeks ago. There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it.

The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President and having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated President kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth. The issue is not only the President’s intemperate language on January 6th. It is not just his endorsement of remarks in which an associate urged, quote, “trial by combat”. It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe. The increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election that was somehow being stolen. Some secret coup by our now President.

Now I defended the President’s right to bring any complaints to our legal system. The legal system spoke, the electoral college spoke. As I stood up and said, clearly at that time, the election was settled. It was over, but that just really opened a new chapter of even wilder and more unfounded claims. The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things. I and sadly many politicians sometimes make overheated comments or use metaphors that unhinged listeners might take literally, but that was different. That’s different from what we saw. This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters’ decision or else torch our institutions on the way out. The unconscionable behavior did not end when the violence actually began.

Whatever our ex-President claims he thought might happen that day, whatever right reaction he’s says he meant to produce by that afternoon, we know he was watching the same live television as the rest of us. A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name, these criminals who are carrying his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him. It was obvious that only President Trump could end this. He was the only one who could. Former aides publicly begged him to do so. Loyal allies frantically called the administration. The President did not act swiftly. He did not do his job. He didn’t take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored. No, instead, according to public reports, he watched television happily as the chaos unfolded. He kept pressing his scheme to overturn the election. Now, even after it was clear to any reasonable observer that Vice President Pence was in serious danger–even as the mob carrying Trump banners was beating cops and breaching perimeters–their President sent a further tweet, attacking his own Vice President.

Now predictably and foreseeably under the circumstances, members of the mob seemed to interpret this as a further inspiration to lawlessness and violence not surprisingly. Later, even when the President did halfheartedly began calling for peace, he didn’t call right away for the riot to end. He did not tell the mob to depart until even later. And even then with police officers bleeding and broken glass covering Capitol floors, he kept repeating election lies and praising the criminals. In recent weeks, our ex-President’s associates have tried to use the 74 million Americans who voted to reelect him as a kind of human shield against criticism. Anyone who decries his awful behavior is accused of insulting millions of voters. That’s an absurd deflection. 74 million Americans did not invade the Capitol, hundreds of rioters did. 74 million Americans did not engineer the campaign of disinformation and rage that provoked it. One person did, just one.

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