The Articles of Impeachment charged President Donald Trump with inciting an insurrection. He chose not to testify, and so guilt or innocence must be inferred by the timeline of events, tweets, and his actions during the invasion of the U.S. Capitol.
Here are the facts:
After Joe Biden won, President Trump and his aides spread lies of widespread voter fraud. Many still believe Smartmatic and Dominion voting machines were fraudulent; even though news outlets including Fox News and Newsmax retracted those stories.
When a federal judge asked Rudy Giuliani if the Trump campaign was alleging fraud, he replied, “No, your honor, we are not.” In multiple court filings by the Trump campaign, 86 judges, including Trump appointees, ruled against their complaints. But outside of courtrooms, they trumpeted “Stop the Steal.”
President Trump repeatedly accused Republican-led state legislatures, Republican governors, and secretaries of state in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona of tolerating fraud while they attested to the validity of their election results.
When all this failed to overturn the election, we are brought to Jan. 6.
A pro-Trump rally originally scheduled for Jan. 22, a date after the presidential swearing-in, was moved to the morning of Jan. 6 — when Congress was to certify the election. President Trump encouraged supporters to come to D.C. with tweets and advertisements to “Stop the Steal.”
When he spoke on that day, he said to “fight like hell” and “peacefully and patriotically” walk to the Capitol. As he finished, the Proud Boys were already attempting to break through police barriers.
As the crowd moved to the Capitol, a portion of it became a mob. The mob overwhelmed the police and broke windows and doors to enter the Capitol. Once inside, rioters fought with Capitol Police, destroyed property, and hunted for representatives, senators, and the vice president with an intent to harm.
To review, we know there was a calculated campaign to lie about the election; numerous lawsuits advertised as alleging fraud; pressure on state officials; a rally in Washington during the certification process; and direction from President Trump to march toward the Capitol where the mob broke in.
His rhetoric and actions were clearly intended to prevent a peaceful transfer of power. Even as Vice President Mike Pence was being evacuated to a safe location by Secret Service agents because the mob was approaching the Senate chamber, President Trump was calling Senators trying to block certification.
A president upholding his oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution” would have activated the National Guard and told rioters to go home at the first opportunity. President Trump did not, he waited two hours to ask rioters in the Capitol to leave. It is also unclear whether he was involved in the decision to activate the National Guard, but if he was the decision was delayed.
Rather than defending the Constitution, President Trump was actively subverting the peaceful transfer of power, which is a bedrock principle of the Constitution.
I voted to convict former President Trump because he is guilty. That’s what the facts demand.
I have no illusions that this is a popular decision. I made this decision because Americans should not be fed lies about “massive election fraud.” Police should not be left to the mercy of a mob. Mobs should not be inflamed to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.
I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and I take that oath seriously. This was, is, and will remain my commitment to you.
We must now move on from this ugly chapter in our history. It is time to come together to focus on COVID-19 recovery, create jobs, and make a better life for everyone in Louisiana. It is an honor and privilege to represent the 4.6 million people of this state. I will continue to do so to the best of my ability, regardless of your party, faith or individual views.
God bless the United States of America.
Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge is a United States senator.