EDITORIAL: 44 very special people in the Senate

York Dispatch Editorial Board
Members of the national guard patrol the area outside of the U.S. Capitol during the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump at Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

They're very special people. Donald Trump surely loves them.

Yes, that applies to the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 after listening to Trump speak about the need to fight for their country or else they wouldn't have a country left.

But it applies even more to the 44 Republican senators who, after voting against holding the former president's second impeachment trial at all on Tuesday, are now sitting through it with blinders on, several arriving for the proceedings late, others struggling to stay awake.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was seen sitting in the visitors gallery with his feet up on a chair, reading something in a manila folder, according to The Hill.

The videos from the House impeachment managers did draw their attention, reportedly. Those videos should have drawn everyone's attention. They show a juxtaposition of what was happening inside the Capitol with what was happening outside, beginning with Trump's speech by the White House, continuing as Congress began the proceedings to affirm the votes of the Electoral College, the abrupt halt to the proceedings as the rioters breached the building.

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They show then-Vice President Mike Pence and his family being evacuated, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi taken to a safe room, and other members of Congress hastening to leave the House and Senate chambers.

The senators heard the increasingly frantic voices of Capitol Police and D.C. Metro Police calling for help, the calls that lines had been breached, officers were down, the rioters were in the building. They heard the profanity-laced yells of the Trump mob calling for the deaths of Pence and Pelosi, insulting police even as they carried blue line flags along with their Trump flags and Confederate flags. 

If they were watching, they saw the rioters using poles with U.S. flags attached to bludgeon police officers and break windows. They saw Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, rushing down a hall and being turned back by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who realized Romney was about to walk into the mob. Goodman went on to lure the rioters away from the doors of the Senate chamber, giving senators enough time to get out.

The audio and videos have a visceral effect. It would be understandable if senators turned away because it was too much.

But that's not why some of them turned away. They turned away because they didn't care what had happened. They didn't care about the convincing constitutional argument from the House managers that a president must still be held accountable for their actions, even in the final days of their term. 

The 44 Republican senators who voted on Tuesday that the trial shouldn't be held have already turned away from their duty.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he spoke with Trump on Tuesday night. “I reinforced to the president, the case is over. It’s just a matter of getting the final verdict now,” Graham said.

This is where our country stands now. A sitting president can point a mob toward the Capitol as if they were a pack of dogs going after a fox, he can wait for hours before calling his rioters off, the vice president and others have to go around him to call the National Guard in, and yet Republican senators can say the case is over before it has even begun. 

At least Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., had the sense to realize that this can't be allowed and was one of six Republicans who voted for the trial to continue. Unfortunately, there will almost certainly not be enough Republican senators — 17 are needed — with the courage to stand up to Trump and his mob and say that with his attempt to violently stop the peaceful transfer of power, he has stepped over the line. 

There are 44 senators who are very special people indeed. Surely Donald Trump loves them almost as much as the people who were willing to do violence to those senators on his behalf.