Two Writing, Literature and Publishing faculty members, Megan Marshall and Jabari Asim, have signed on to a letter drafted by historians and constitutional scholars calling for a second impeachment of President Trump following his encouragement of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The letter, signed by more than 300 historians, biographers, and academics and covered in the New York Times, says Trump is a “clear and present danger to American democracy and the national security of the United States. He has disqualified himself from continuing to serve out even his few remaining days as president, as well as from ever again holding, according to the Constitution, ‘any Office of honor, Trust or profit under the United States.’”
Trump, after more than two months of pushing false claims that he, rather than Joe Biden, actually won the presidential election, urged his supporters in a January 6 rally to “fight” to overturn the election results on the day that Congress was in joint session to certify the vote.
That afternoon, many in the crowd stormed the U.S. Capitol. Five people, including one Capitol police officer, were killed in the day’s violence, and lawmakers and staff were forced to shelter in their offices or a secure location as the mob took over the building.
Megan Marshall, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, Charles Wesley Emerson Professor, and president of the Society of American Historians, said historians are uniquely positioned to comment on the present.
“I wanted to stand with other scholars and writers in condemning the incendiary words of this sitting president and asking that he be held accountable for their results,” Marshall said. “Mass movements play powerful roles in the course of events, but it takes a leader to touch them off. Sadly, our government is in the grip of such a man, and the powers of Congress must be utilized to ‘check’ this corrupt and corrupting Commander in Chief.”
Associate Professor Jabari Asim, Elma Lewis Distinguished Fellow in the Social Justice Center, and the author of We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies and the Art of Survival and What Obama Means … for Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Future, among other books, said he felt compelled to sign the letter because Trump’s “presence in the White House and his willingness to endanger the republic hinders the United States in its ongoing struggle to achieve genuine democracy.
“His embrace of demagoguery and baseless claims of voter fraud further illustrate what many of us have long known, that he prioritizes his personal interests over those of our country,” Asim said.
As of this writing, Democrats in the House of Representatives have drawn up an impeachment resolution charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection,” and the House is set to begin debating the resolution on Wednesday, January 13, barring a move by Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, removing Trump from office — a move Pence is widely expected to reject.
While the House is expected to vote to impeach Trump on the incitement charge, the Senate most likely would not take up the article until January 19 at the earliest – one day before President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in, meaning any possible conviction would come after Trump’s term has expired. However, those pressing for impeachment stress the importance of ensuring that Trump faces consequences for destabilizing democracy. If convicted, he also would be barred from holding public office in the future.
In December 2019, Marshall joined more than 2,000 historians in signing a letter urging impeachment for Trump’s attempt to coerce Ukraine into investigating Biden’s son, Hunter, by threatening to withhold federal aid to the nation.