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BRENDA BLAGG: The danger lingers

Political world still processing deadly riot’s impact by Brenda Blagg | January 13, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

As frightening as events were, some good has come from last week's domestic terror in the nation's capital.

Unless President Donald Trump resigns first, he is certain to be impeached, again, by the U.S. House. A Senate trial might wait until after time runs out on the Trump presidency -- and whatever protection it has held for him against prosecution in state or federal courts.

Trump should get his due. More importantly, American democracy has so far survived him and his mob-like followers.

Rioters swarmed the U.S. Capitol a week ago, interrupting the last official step in the election of a new president.

The violent siege that threatened democracy itself thankfully proved temporary.

Within hours and inside the freshly battered and bloodied halls of our Capitol building, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives resumed counting the votes of the Electoral College.

The work would carry the Congress into the wee hours of the next morning, but it would get done -- despite insurrection. ­

Joe Biden will be inaugurated next week as president. Donald Trump will be gone from the White House, his legacy forever defined by the insurrection he incited.

The history making continues as the House this week considers a second impeachment of Trump, this time for his role in what happened last week.

At a Washington, D.C., rally preceding the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, Trump repeated his big lie to supporters willing to believe him, rousing the violent fringe in their midst.

The president cast himself as the victim of imagined, unproven election fraud, asserting that the November election had been stolen from him and them. He fired up the crowd he had recruited to come from around the country and encouraged them to carry their protest-turned-assault to the Capitol.

He specifically directed their attention toward Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump had tried to persuade to interfere with the Electoral College vote count. Pence defied Trump, releasing a statement explaining the vice president lacks authority to reject electoral voters even as Trump's followers marched toward the Capitol, where many would chant "hang Pence" as they pushed their way in.

We know now that some in the crowd went to the rally and to the Capitol with more than peaceful protest in mind.

They led the breach of security lines and smashed windows to gain entry to the Capitol. Some wielded flagpoles and fire extinguishers as weapons to beat Capitol Police, killing one officer and injuring others.

Many chanted threats against the vice president, who was taken to a secure location in the Capitol for his protection.

Members of Congress, staff members and reporters were similarly relocated as the rioters swarmed the historic building.

By shortly after 8 p.m., the Senate and House had both reconvened. But it would take them another seven and a half hours to reject challenges to electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania and, finally, to certify the election of Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president.

Since then, pressure has mounted on Vice President Pence and Trump's remaining cabinet members to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office immediately.

House members simultaneously moved toward Trump's impeachment on a single charge, "incitement of insurrection."

Meanwhile, federal and state law enforcement agencies are following video evidence to identify and arrest the law-breakers who participated in the siege of the Capitol.

Unfortunately, that's happening amid threats of other potential armed protests in Washington and at state capitols in coming days, which means the Trump-inspired danger may not be over quite yet.

Brenda Blagg is a freelance columnist and longtime journalist in Northwest Arkansas. Email her at [email protected]


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