The thinking appears to be that since the near-unanimous majority of Senate Republicans continue to stand behind Trump even after he demanded a mob march on the Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes that would confirm Joe Biden’s presidential win—a demand that the mob acted on, resulting in multiple deaths inside the building and the near-assassination of lawmakers—perhaps the party of outright treason would be willing to compromise by giving their would-be authoritarian strongman a stern finger-wagging letter.
It’s a given that Senate Republicans will vote to acquit Trump, as they did when Trump got caught brazenly extorting the leader of a foreign nation with personal demands intended to help boost his own reelection chances. But, the thinking apparently goes, maybe we can make a nice show of “unity” by having both parties agree that rallying a mob intent on attacking and possibly killing members of the political opposition is somewhat bad—not bad enough to do anything concrete about or to prohibit a person from re-taking office, but certainly bad enough for a note to be dropped into their permanent record.
Screw that. Screw all of that, very much and sincerely.
What Donald Trump attempted, even before the crowd turned violent, was a coup against democracy. He, his allies, and the majority of Republican lawmakers all demanded that the results of a United States election be overturned, based on nothing but nonsensical and provably false claims, and that the will of American voters simply be ignored because the Republican Party did not like the results. It was an act of sedition before the crowd marched over. It was an act of sedition when prominent Republicans peddled hoaxes relentlessly, claiming the election results to be invalid because of conspiracies that not one damn person in America could prove.
Donald Trump may have been acting purely out of malignant narcissism, and may indeed be living inside delusions layered upon delusions in which any and every failure on his part, during his entire adult life, has only happened due to the secret machinations of invisible enemies, but the action he took was unambiguous. He intended to overturn the election results. His allies intended to help him overturn the election results. The House and Senate Republicans who voted to throw out the election results intended to help him overturn the election results.
It was an insurrection against the government, and if there is no stomach among Republican lawmakers for punishing it as such, it is because they were themselves allied with those efforts. They remain allied in a unified attempt to dodge repercussions for attempting to overturn an election that did not go their way.
To be sure, those who acted with treasonous intent against this country are not eager to vote for consequences. That is to be expected. Attempting to compromise with them, finding some common ground where violent insurrection is still acknowledged to be bad so long as the insurrection’s chief beneficiary and provocateur is able to skate by without the presentation of evidence against him, is attempting to compromise with those who sought to end the fabled “peaceful transition of power” by party fiat.
The streak is broken. There was no peaceful transition of power. Among a majority inside the party now fully enmeshed in fascist propaganda and plots, there is only begrudging acknowledgement even now that our democracy remains legitimate; on Fox News and in evasive lawmaker interviews, the same hoax theories are still sniffled about, and Republican officials and leaders are taking not making even the barest effort to clarify to their still-addled base voters that Joe Biden won the most votes and electors, that there was no conspiratorial and secret fraud, and that the new Democratic administration is, indeed, a legitimate one.
If Republican senators are going to vote to immunize Trump even from an attempt to overthrow the government, oblige them to cast that vote. There needs to be a list. There needs to be a record.
Fortunately, there appears to be little to no support for allowing Republicans to dodge a trial; this “censure” nonsense is likely to be over before it begins. We’re going to get a list of which top Republicans truly believe, even now, that Donald Trump’s actions were within the bounds of what America should allow. It will be a long list, and everyone on it will be senators who have betrayed their nation countless times before in their bid to normalize abject corruption in service to Republican power.