Opinion | Susan Knopf: Clear and present danger
For The Record
The fate of our country depends on what we do next. What would John McCain do?
The third highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, Liz Cheney, voted to impeach the president for the second time. She joined nine other Republicans in what The Washington Post calls the most bipartisan impeachment in U.S. history.
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” she said.
Cheney told Fox News, “There is no question that the president formed the mob, the president incited the mob. … He lit the flame.”
For the record, according to The Washington Post, no senator has ever voted to convict a president of his own party, until Sen. Mitt Romney voted to convict Donald Trump.
I hope Mitch McConnell is lining up the 17 Republican votes it will take to convict Trump. If the Senate doesn’t convict, the mob will be emboldened. That’s what we need to stop: the mob.
With this backdrop, Sen. Lindsey Graham appeared on “Hannity” and said, “We shouldn’t legitimize this.” He’s talking about the impeachment and not the coup attempt on the U.S. government. “The president of the United States was impeached … without one witness … without a lawyer,” Graham said.
The trial happens in the Senate, not the House. The whole world knows what happened. We all heard Trump incite the mob. We heard the tape in which he threatens Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and tells him to find 11,000 votes.
Graham and others ask, “Why impeach Trump after he leaves office?” Democrats and some patriotic, brave Republicans are trying to block Trump from ever running for federal office again. According to a Washington Post article, that might be more difficult than some Congress members believe.
The impeachment conviction would pave the path for other legal actions: civil suits and the criminal convictions of others. Perhaps the court could seize Trump’s $200 million PAC funds to compensate victims of his coup attempt.
Trump’s conviction would send a clear message.
“… Future presidents may need to know what the exact boundaries are for presidential behavior,” Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan told “Meet the Press.”
No question, Trump smashed all previous concepts of acceptable presidential behavior.
“President Trump’s rhetoric makes unacceptable behavior acceptable, and violence inevitable,” Jeh Johnson, former secretary of homeland security, told “Meet the Press.”
This week, Trump was in Texas, still stoking false claims of a stolen election. CNN correspondent Jim Acosta told viewers, “The president is lying about his role in the siege. … (He’s) throwing more gasoline on the fire as he gaslights the country.”
Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert started her own little insurrection, refusing to obey House rules: Firearms are OK in your office but not in the Capitol. Boebert set off metal detectors and refused to let officers look in her purse.
Many are decrying censorship, arguing we must allow Trump and others to continue posting seditious lies that incite violence. I don’t think so.
We must pass a law criminalizing false seditious speech. You cannot shout “fire” in a crowded theater if there is no fire. All speech is not protected. You cannot poison the people with seditious cries to overthrow our government, claiming a stolen election, when duly elected Republican officials and more than 60 courts find the election to be legally sound.
We must vanquish fabricators of seditious fiction. Media organizations promulgating known lies must face consequences. We need to upgrade our legal tools to stop seditious speech online and on the dark web.
We have laws to protect the food we eat and regulate the safety of restaurants and bars. Such laws, and their enforcement, serve the public good.
We need to know the information we consume is factual. We also need to fact check on our own. Just because you disagree doesn’t mean the information is false. Just because you agree doesn’t mean the information is true. Verify.
If we value our republic, we must regulate the information to the extent that it is truthful and contextual. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but not their own set of alternative facts.
Susan Knopf’s column “For The Record” publishes Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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