Open letter to U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming):
There are two visuals of the deadly U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 that I will never forget. In both, police officers who helped save your lives are casualties of the violence.
In the first video, rioters crush Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police officer Daniel Hodges in a doorway; he is bleeding from his mouth and screaming in agony. The second shows rioters pulling an officer from a window, beating him with the pole of an American flag and stomping on him.
As jurors, did you look away as Democrats presented these and countless other atrocities at former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial?
You had the opportunity to bring justice to the man who set this madness in motion. But on the impeachment charge of inciting insurrection, you and 41 of your fellow Republican senators voted “not guilty.”
The Senate delivered a clear message to Trump: lying, political violence and even murder will be tolerated as long as you are sufficently popular to be politically dangerous. We are cowed, impotent and, like beaten dogs trembling in a puddle of our own making, no threat to you. Do as you will to the Constitution just, please, don’t hurt us. We won’t make trouble.
Your votes were cowardly. I would say you showed blind allegiance to a man hell-bent on overturning his overwhelming election loss — and with it our once proud history of peaceful transfers of power — but you were far from blind. For months you enabled him at every turn, including this horrendous final act of his presidency that threatened our democracy.
Rep. Liz Cheney, your Wyoming Republican colleague, courageously voted to impeach Trump.
“The president summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing,” she said. “None of this would have happened without the president.”
Trump “could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence,” Cheney continued. “He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
She’s received plenty of backlash. As one of 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment, she was loudly censured by the Wyoming Republican Party.
Several far-right candidates immediately announced plans to run against her in the 2022 GOP primary. Cheney — who survived a vote to remove her as leader of the House Republican Conference — has paid a political price in Wyoming for telling the truth.
Both of you will be rewarded by your GOP constituents, because it’s pretty much a given you can remain in the Senate for as long as you like.
Trump’s supporters believe his two impeachments were “witch hunts.” Anything else is blasphemy.
After the mob Trump stirred into a frenzy breached the Capitol, he headed back to the White House to watch it all unfold on TV. According to his own aides, he rebuffed pleas from his family and advisers to stop the attack. He refused calls from officials to send in the National Guard.
Senators, did you feel nothing when you heard the crowd chanting, “Hang Mike Pence”?
Steadfastly loyal until the bitter end, Pence earned his boss’ wrath for refusing to help stop certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory. Trump reportedly didn’t speak to him until five days after he knowingly put Pence in harm’s way.
Late in the Senate trial, a Republican representative said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) told her that as his office windows were being smashed, the president said on the phone, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
How can you witness such disdain for McCarthy’s life, and still vote to acquit? I guess it’s for the same reason McCarthy later flew to Florida and licked Trump’s boots, begging forgiveness for speaking out: You’re afraid you will wind up like Cheney.
If I was in your shoes, I’d probably be frightened too. But you chose that footwear, and now you’re forced to walk in lockstep with Trump or be thrown under his bus.
For the record, as a life-long Democrat, I’m not thrilled with my own party’s decision to not call witnesses who might have provided more damning evidence against Trump.
“The jury is ready to vote,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) allegedly told House managers. “People want to get home for Valentine’s Day.”
I hope everyone had a nice holiday, and that everyone who shares Coons’ sentiment also enjoyed Presidents’ Day. Neither were any comfort to the family of Brian Sicknick, who died defending the Capitol, nor the 140 injured officers.
I’ll close with the words of our ex-president that are still ringing in my ears:
In a video released more than three hours after rioters laid waste to the Capitol, Trump finally told them to peacefully leave. “We love you,” he said with a smile. “You’re very special.”
History will judge your votes to let Trump off the hook. I hope you can live with that verdict, too.