Trump’s Removal Is Taking Too LongRoundup
tags: impeachment, Donald Trump, Capitol Riots
TOM NICHOLS is the author of the forthcoming book Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy.
On October 14, 1962, an American U-2 spy plane flew over Cuba and took hundreds of pictures of military installations on the island. The next day, the CIA determined that these bases were actually nuclear-missile sites, set up under our noses by the Soviet Union and discovered by pure luck.
On October 22, President John F. Kennedy enacted a blockade around Cuba and addressed the nation, and the world, on television, saying he was ready to take military action if necessary. The next day, he raised the U.S. military’s alert status to DEFCON 2, one step short of actual nuclear war. The Cuban missile crisis was under way.
Over the next few days, tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union heightened. The U.S.S.R. conducted demonstrative aboveground nuclear tests, and Soviet submarine commanders, on their way to Cuba, were authorized to use nuclear torpedoes at sea. At one point, Kennedy estimated the odds of a nuclear holocaust at “somewhere between one in three and even.”
By October 28, the Soviet ships had turned back, and the U.S.S.R. had pledged to remove the missiles from Cuba. The U.S. had agreed not to invade Cuba and to remove missiles from Turkey. From the time Kennedy went public to the end of the crisis was a mere six days.
Donald Trump still has 11 days in office.
Article II of the Constitution vests full executive power in the president, including the post of commander in chief of the armed forces. Since World War II, this has included the power to use nuclear arms—“the president’s weapons,” as nukes are called in the defense community—without contradiction or countermanding.
No special exception limits the actions of lame-duck presidents. Trump will have the full panoply of his powers right up until noon on January 20. After the storming of the U.S. Capitol, even these final few days are too much of a risk to endure.
Trump is an unstable and desperate man who has incited violence against the government of the United States. He cannot be trusted with the keys to Armageddon, and so he must be removed by any legal and constitutional means available.
Since the insurrection on Wednesday, Trump has tried in his diffident and childlike way to calm the waters with a weak statement acknowledging Joe Biden’s win, an acceptance Trump apparently sees as a gracious willingness to compromise after his initial seditious insistence on fighting to the end. This change in tone, however, was merely Trump following his usual pattern, in which he says something horrifying, panics his staff—and his lawyers—and then is pushed out in front of the cameras to say he didn’t really mean any of it, while he winks and indicates that he meant every word of it.
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