By EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON
U.S. House of Representatives
Our Capitol will forever be scarred, both literally and figuratively, by the events that transpired on January 6th, 2021. Three weeks later, the halls of Congress that I have walked for nearly three decades are still littered with remnants from the attack – subtle reminders of the fragility of our democracy. These same halls, once bustling with legislators and staffers, are now patrolled by the United States National Guard. Although repairs to the building will be made and the military perimeters scaled back, the damage that was done to our Republic on that day will endure. For that and for his actions and words to incite the insurrection, former President Donald Trump must be held accountable – which is why we must impeach.
The power to impeach is among the most sacred responsibilities entrusted to me as a member of Congress. Having voted twice for articles of impeachment preceding this one, for Clinton in 1998 and Trump’s first last year, I recognize the implications associated with impeachment and conviction of a United States president. During the first two trials, I waited to make a decision until I was confident that I had all of the facts in front of me. For this one, not only are the facts quite clear; they are painstakingly sobering.
As I watched these domestic terrorists storm the steps of the Capitol from my office, I was left to reflect on what brought our nation to get to this rock-bottom point. Further, I also pondered how we, as the great epicenter of democracy, watched our Capitol be invaded for the purpose of overturning the results of a free and fair election. It was then that I came to the somber realization that, for the first time in our history, a sitting Commander-In-Chief inspired, incited and encouraged a deadly attack against Americans on our own soil.
There is the belief – naïve at its best – that the impeachment of a former president only serves to divide us further. To this, I ask: when did we begin to consider the punishment of insurrection as divisive? Or since when has a belief, which maintains that a trial in Congress would be nothing more than a waste of time, resources and emotional currency. To that, I say: the preservation of our democracy will never be a lost cause nor should we be derelict in our duties to preserve its cornerstone of our founding principles.
While my colleagues and I in Congress may disagree on a myriad of policy issues, as a body, we surely now we can come together to hold those who are responsible accountable for the results of their actions for what happened on that fateful day. Beyond that, we can also recognize that a failed conviction, nothing more than a slap on the wrist, will signal that the United States collectively has refused to stand up in the face of sedition.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is the chairwoman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, the first woman and first African American to hold the position. She represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas.