On January 6, 2021, supporters of former President Donald J Trump engaged in an orgy of violence on the steps of the Capitol building, at the entrances to the Capitol building, and inside the Capitol building. But we know that the building was not the target, just collateral damage.
If you watched the news on January 6, on the following days, news specials about January 6, or the videos shown at the hearings of the January 6 Committee of the House of Representatives, you saw the Capitol building under attack. You also saw Capitol Police being physically attacked by Trump supporters. Prosecutors and police unions report that 91 Capitol Police officers were injured by pro-Trump rioters, along with 65 DC Police officers. Reports indicate officers were pushed down stairs, trampled by rioters, punched and run over in the stampede. Several officers died that day or after, from physical or psychological wounds sustained at the hands of Trump supporters. But police officers were not the target.
Capitol Police saw the threat to members of Congress, and moved members, including House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, other Republican members and the Democrat leaders and members. Senators and Representatives were moved to secure rooms in the Capitol, as at least one heroic Capitol Police officer teased rioters into following him as he moved away from where the members of Congress were taken.
Trump supporters shouted threats to members of Congress, announced their intention to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and acted with the intent of intimidating Congress into refusing to certify the election of President Joseph Biden. The Congress of the United States, the most representative branch of the government, would appear to be the proximate targets of the Trump supporters who stormed the capitol.
Peaceful Transfer of Power
In 1797, the first President of the United States, George Washington, left the White House and returned to his plantation and distillery in Mount Vernon. After two terms, one more than he wanted to serve, he retired as the Chief Executive of the new federal government. He set a precedent for the peaceful transfer of power that has been the cornerstone of the American Republic since then, unbroken up through and including 2017, when President Barack Obama left office and Donald J Trump took an Oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
This peaceful transfer of power is known as “rotation in office.” When President Washington left office and turned the power over to John Adams, it was unusual in the world of its time. So unusual, that many in Europe who heard the news of the peaceful transfer of power, did not believe it. The writers of the U.S. Constitution expected it, and after Washington observed the new convention, every President who had served out his term, respected the Constitutional mandate to leave office, and allow his elected successor to take the oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Every President who lost an election, surrendered the office, as required by the Constitution, until January 6, 2021.
The Real Target: The Constitution of the United States
When it was adopted in 1787, the Constitution of the United States provided for a government of limited powers. Article 1, Section 1 sets out the powers of the Congress of the United States, and the means of electing Congress. The Congress of the United States exists only because of The Constitution of the United States.
The same Constitution sets out the powers and responsibilities of The President of the United States, and instructs us on how The President shall be elected: Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof shall direct, a number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in Congress…
By the end of the Civil War, each state had adopted a law providing that Electors would be chosen by direct popular vote. As early as 1832, every state except South Carolina had provided for a direct vote for electors. This history undermines the demand on election night 2020 by Mark Levin that Republican controlled legislatures appoint electors in states where the popular vote went for Biden. Still, the suggestion by Mark Levin indicates he understood that those states did cast their popular vote for Biden, not Trump.
The Constitution – the 12th Amendment – provides that the electors of each state shall meet in their state to cast votes for President and Vice-President, with the votes to transmitted sealed to the President of the Senate, who shall count the votes in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives. On January 6, Vice-President Pence began to count the votes, and in a Constitutional but unprecedented manner, objections were laid to the electoral votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania. In both cases Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas joined with several Representatives to lodge objections, and the Congress adjourned to consider the objections.
Even as Trump supporters in Congress worked to prevent certification of the election that Donald Trump lost, Trump supporters outside Congress undertook an assault, targeting all the members of Congress, including the Trump supporters. The certification of the electoral vote count was mandated by The Constitution, and the right to make objections was legal under the term of the Electoral Count Act. The attack on Congress was an attack on The Constitution of the United States – plain and simple.
The Evidence and the Proof
The physical destruction of parts of the Capitol Building, the broken glass, the smashed in doors, the nearly 160 injured Capitol Police and DC Police, and the deaths of several officers – these were the evidence for and the proof of the attack on The Constitution of the United States.
Not so long ago, Republicans and conservatives claimed to be defenders of the Constitution. The President of the United States, and the Trump supporters in Congress all took an Oath to “preserve, protect and defend The Constitution of the United States. President Trump violated his Oath many times, most publicly on January 6. Those members of Congress who have defended the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters have also violated their Oath, and shown how empty are their claims to be defenders of The Constitution .
Let us treat Donald Trump and the Trump supporters in Congress with the same respect they have shown America’s founding Document, The Constitution of the United States.
(by Gene Berkman, Editor, California Libertarian Report)