Stand back, for a moment, and consider the enormity of his actions. As president, he tried to cling to power by overturning an election that he had unambiguously lost. First, he spread a big lie in a months-long campaign to convince his voters that the election was a fraud and that the media, the courts and the politicians who clung to the truth were in fact part of a wicked conspiracy to seize power. Then, having failed to force state officials to override the vote, he and his henchmen whipped up a violent mob and sent them to intimidate Congress into giving him what he wanted. And last, as that mob ransacked the Capitol and threatened to hang the vice-president, Mike Pence, for his treachery, Mr Trump looked on, for hours ignoring lawmakers’ desperate pleas for him to come to their aid.
In a democracy, no crime is higher and no misdemeanour more treasonous. Mr Trump needs to be punished for betraying his oath as head of state. He must be prevented from holding office again — or he may well stand in 2024. And, in case someone is minded to copy him, he must serve as an example of how vehemently America rejects a leader who tramples its constitution.
I just have a feeling our much-maligned establishments are saving the day. A former cabinet official said to me this week, “Trump never understood our institutions.” He never understood how strong and deeply layered they are. The agencies held, the military, the courts. Because Mr. Trump is purely transactional, he thought if he appointed Neil, Brett and Amy, they’d naturally do his bidding because that’s how the world works. But it’s not always how the world works. This week the Supreme Court blandly refused to fast-track his latest election appeal. They did it quietly, without comment.
I have a feeling there was a lot of quiet stature around us all along.
And they were quietly thinking: Don’t mess with my country. But they didn’t say mess.