It was an absolutely stunning 13 minutes.
From the moment lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) introduced a video showing the events of the January 6 US Capitol attack right until it ended with a note on those who were killed and injured as a result of the riot, it was impossible for me not to watch – even as I was sickened, saddened and angered by what I saw.
The video juxtaposed the staid proceedings of affirming the Electoral College vote inside the House and Senate with the chaos growing outside the building – as then-President Donald Trump urged attendees of a massive “Stop the Steal” rally to march down to the Capitol and fight to keep Democrats from stealing the election.
(Sidebar: There is zero evidence that the election was fraudulent or stolen.)
As those two realities merged – with protesters knocking over the police and rushing the doors where members of Congress were on the floor debating objections to the Electoral College – I was struck by one overriding thought: It is a miracle that it wasn’t much, much worse.
Which isn’t to say the violent storming of one of the symbols of American democracy – and the deaths and injuries directly related to that insurrection – wasn’t awful. It was. It was among the darkest days in modern memory.
But it really could have been WAY worse. Vice President Mike Pence narrowly missed coming face-to-face with a mob – some of whom were chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.” Members of Congress were left cowering, defenseless; “All around me, people were calling their wives and their husbands, their loved ones, to say goodbye,” recounted Raskin.
That a member of Congress wasn’t injured or killed was a minor miracle. And that we have to say that in this, the strongest democracy in the world, is terrifying.
What that video showed is what the impact of lies and the weaponizing of partisanship, resentment and victimhood from the nation’s most powerful leader can create: something pretty damn near a coup.
I find it unfathomable that any senator – Republican or Democrat – could watch that 13-minute video and not be changed by it. Not see what Trump did as seeding and then activating an angry mob conditioned over years to believe that the lie was the truth. Not see that another presidential candidacy for the 45th President would mean a clear and present danger for our surprisingly fragile democracy.
The Point: If past is prologue, nothing will change about Trump’s fate after today. Because minds are already made up. Which is really, really unfortunate. And disappointing.