Donald Trump

President Trump arrives to speak at a rally Wednesday in Washington. His supporters later stormed the Capitol building. Associated Press/Jacquelyn Martin

Donald Trump should go to jail. He just incited a riot.

Like the rest of America, I watched in disbelief and horror Wednesday afternoon as one of history’s darkest shadows descended on the U.S. Capitol, our most hallowed democratic sanctuary.

A large, angry and unruly mob, spurred on by Trump’s mania just moments before, marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, as expected, gathered around the Capitol, again as expected, and then erupted in anarchy with a ferocity few saw coming.

I’m still watching as I write this. I haven’t felt so paralyzed by an unfolding calamity since the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when we witnessed airplanes full of innocent people crashing into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, a field in western Pennsylvania.

But that was the work of foreign terrorists. This is rooted in the madness of the man who calls himself our president.

On Tuesday, I spoke with Sen. Angus King about what we already agreed would be a day of shame on Capitol Hill: Republican upstarts in both chambers of Congress, intoxicated by their faux power, jamming a parliamentary stick into the ceremonial finale to our national election.

Never did I imagine that one day later, I’d be texting King, “Are you safe?”

“Safe for now,” he soon texted back. “Will give details later.”

King then added this quote from the Book of Hosea, Chapter 8, Verse 7: “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.”

Our Capitol is under siege, occupied by rioters. Let me repeat that: Our Capitol is occupied by rioters.

It’s no longer something that could happen. It’s happening, right before our eyes. The very heart of our republic is under attack.

I see a rioter sitting in the chair, feet on the desk, inside the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s assistant. I see another hanging from the balcony of the Senate chamber, while others roam the floor like the criminals they are.

I’ve heard of guns drawn, a fatal shooting inside the Capitol, members of Congress evacuating with their gas masks.

A man outside is trying to take down the U.S. flag and replace it with one that says “Trump.”

To those who have supported Trump, do you consider this a victory? Tell us that you know lawlessness when you see it. Admit to yourselves, at long last, that you’ve been had.

President-elect Joe Biden is on the TV now. He just called the debacle “an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings – the doing of the people’s business.”

Where were the police? Where were the safeguards that, even on a normal day, make entering the Capitol no easy feat? Where are the contingency plans we assumed were formulated after Trump’s exhortation that today would be “wild” in Washington, D.C.?

Those questions will consume the weeks and months ahead, further stoking this inferno. Fingers will be pointed, careers truncated, all amid vows that this can never, ever, happen again.

But it happened. It happened because Donald Trump, drowning in his delusions, made it happen.

He needs to be held accountable.

What say you now, Republicans? And to Sen. Susan Collins in particular, we hope you, too, are safe. We also hope that, at long last, you will denounce this man, without restraint or equivocation, for his attack on the very institution you love.

And let there be no mistake about that. This is, was and always will be Donald Trump’s attack.

Sure, after Biden told him to “step up,” Trump tweeted a video telling the rioters to go home. Yet even now, he dog-whistled, “We love you. … I know how you feel.”

Go home? Now? It’s like telling an arsonist to put down the matches even as the barn goes up in flames.

None of us knows where this is headed.

We fear for what this night will bring on the streets of Washington. If these thugs are behaving this way in broad daylight, what will they do under the cloak of darkness?

For months, we’ve thought this would all end on Jan. 20, when Trump finally exits the White House – or will he?

But now, Trump can’t simply be exorcised by the simple act of Biden holding a Bible and promising to uphold the Constitution so help him God.

Our president, who once boasted he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose a vote, has committed a crime against the entire nation.

“We didn’t do anything. This just happened,” he told the throng packing the Ellipse just outside the White House earlier in the day, his instinct for total deniability fully engaged. In the next breath, he exhorted the soon-to-be insurrectionists to “get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good.”

Then, as Trump retreated to the safety of his White House bubble, they marched to Capitol Hill to break open doors, smash windows, invade and desecrate our government’s most inner sanctums.

Tear gas now wafts over the east steps of the Capitol. Not everyone is standing down. They were beseeched by the president himself to “stop the steal,” and, to a man and woman, they’re doing as they were told.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “incite” as “to provoke and urge on.” It further defines “riot” as “a wild or turbulent disturbance created by a large number of people.”

The troubling winds first sown four years ago have whirled into a full-blown riot. Incited by none other than Donald J. Trump.

Impeach that man. Again.

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