On Wednesday, Jan. 6, pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort spurred on by former President Donald Trump to halt the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. In response, the House of Representatives impeached the sitting president for the second time – something that’s never been done before.
In an email to the Goshen College community, President Rebecca Stoltzfus condemned the violence and racism evident at the Capitol, noting that the Confederate flags and “inconsistent use of police force” were abhorrent and antithetical to Jesus’ message of peace and love. She also challenged us to “create spaces for our pain” and find hope in our honest conversations about living in community with one another.
Five people died in the attack, including one Capitol police officer — fifty more officers were injured. Later that day, Congress, led by former Vice President Mike Pence, reconvened to finish certifying the election results.
Earlier that morning, Trump held a rally where he encouraged supporters to “show strength,” saying that “you’ll never take back our country with weakness.” These remarks, along with the insurrectionists claiming that they were acting at the former president’s behest, led many to quickly tie a direct line from Trump’s rhetoric to the riot.
While the Capitol was under siege, Trump asked his supporters to remain peaceful, but refused to condemn their actions, even saying in a tweet that they were “very special” and “we love you.”
As a result, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and nearly all top Democrats quickly called for Trump’s immediate removal from office via an expedited impeachment and conviction, arguing that he was wholly unfit to finish out his term and presented a “clear and present danger to the nation.”
However, unlike the first impeachment over Trump’s Ukraine phone call, this effort garnered more bipartisan support. Many members of the Trump administration, conservative news outlets, and Republican officials said that Trump bore responsibility for the attack, and many of those argued for impeachment and removal.
Additionally, at least sixteen members of the Trump administration resigned in wake of the riot, and he was also banned from nearly all social media sites including Twitter, who cited his speech as “likely to inspire” future acts of violence.
After Pence declined to invoke the 25th Amendment, Speaker Pelosi pushed forward with an accelerated impeachment in the House. Trump’s first impeachment took 81 days; his second took seven.
Seven of nine Indiana congressional representatives voted against the impeachment.
Jackie Walorski, House Representative for Indiana’s second district, which houses Goshen College, voted to not impeach the president, saying that the country should instead focus on “uniting the American people and strengthening our country.”
The impeachment will now go to the Senate where they will hold a trial to judge if the former president is guilty of the indictment. If two-thirds of senators agree with the House, he will be convicted.
Yesterday shortly before noon, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in as the 46th President and 49th Vice President. In a ceremony marked by significant alterations due to the pandemic and heightened security concerns, President Biden celebrated a new era and called for unity in his inaugural address.
He also stressed the importance of democracy and a return to normalcy, saying “Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause: the cause of democracy. … We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”