School children are taught to hold our presidents in near reverence, that the person elected to lead our country should be honored because they will defend and protect us against any enemy that might dare to attack.
In the years to come, school children will learn that one of our presidents actually was the enemy, and that he led an attack on America from within. They will learn that he was impeached by Congress twice, first for trying to get an enemy country to interfere with our free election, which he won, and then for inciting a riot so he could stay in power -- even though he had lost his bid for reelection.
Monday evening, an important chapter in that history was written as impeachment managers from the House of Representatives delivered to the Senate the charge upon which former president Donald John Trump will be tried beginning February 9.
Read by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the single article of impeachment accuses Trump of engaging "in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States."
Think of that.
School children in future years will learn that America had a president who actually incited a riot that endangered the lives of the vice president, members of Congress, their staff members and others in the Capitol building; that five people died in the violence that he encouraged, and that even before that, he tried to fraudulently and illegally hold onto power even though he had decisively been defeated.
The violence of that mob on January 6 is seared into our memory. On television, we heard them scream "Hang Mike Pence." We saw images of a wooden gallows with a noose they had erected near the Capitol itself. We watched as they overran the police, smashed windows, broke in doors, forced the evacuation of the House chamber where the Electoral College vote to certify the election was being challenged by Trump supporters in Congress.
We saw images of crazed individuals bashing a Capitol Hill police officer in the head with an American flagpole. We saw an insurrectionist sitting with his feet up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's desk and others rifling through papers on senators desks in the Senate chamber.
All of that was disgusting and the result of Trump encouraging that crowd to go to the Capitol and "fight like hell." When he said he'd be with them, there was a cheer. But after he sent them on their way, he escaped to the White House where he watched the action on TV, reportedly with glee, transfixed as members of Congress tried to hide under their desks and ignoring pleas for the National Guard to be sent in.
The Mob's Mindset
The mob had been primed in advance by Trump and his advocates.
It was reported Monday that Dominion Voting Systems, which had been accused by Trump and his "lawyer" Rudy Giuliani of rigging votes in favor of Democrat Joe Biden, has sued Giuliani for defamation and is demanding payment of $1.3 billion.
In the 107-page lawsuit, Dominion accuses Giuliani of making more than 50 statements at legislative hearings, on Twitter, on his podcast and in the conservative news media that constituted a "viral disinformation campaign" about the company.
Within those pages are some harrowing descriptions of violent threats made by Trump supporters against Dominion employees. One message left on the company's customer service line is an example:
"You're all f*cking dead," the message said. "We're bringing back the firing squad and you f*ckers are all dead, everybody involved up against the wall you motherf*ckers."
That was the mindset of the mob who attended Trump's rally prior to the Capitol break-in. That mindset had been clearly and repeatedly expressed on social media. Trump knew this and tapped into it by calling on his "patriots" to "fight like hell" on his behalf and to "save" the nation.
Trump's role in inciting the insurrection is clear. The evidence is unassailable. But, whether enough Republicans will have the courage to vote to convict him is still an open question, as 17 are needed to join the 50 Democrats.
But, those Senate Republicans should be searching their consciences -- if they have any -- now and in the days ahead. They must ask themselves whether they need to serve Donald Trump and appeal to his hateful base, or whether they should rise up and forever rid this nation of this evil individual who has simply torn this nation -- and their party -- to shreds.
There is time for this assessment to be made. We will see what those senators are made of when the roll is called after the trial has come to its conclusion.
And then, we will know what will be in those history lessons that our children will be taught in the years ahead.