In 1973, Jonathan Schell published an article in The New Yorker on the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. The illegal break-in and the subsequent investigation posed a challenge to the country’s political system. In America, Schell wrote, we must not have the luxury of finding out the truth about high crimes and misdemeanors and then simply ignoring what is discovered. “In a democracy,” he noted, “certain forms of truth compel more than the consent of our minds; they compel us to act.” This week the Senate begins deliberating on Donald Trump’s second impeachment – and the resulting verdict will become us tell a lot about the direction of our country. There have been few other moments of such political consistency in American history.
This week we bring you a selection of plays on the importance of impeachment. In “Among the Insurgents” Luke Mogelson offers a detailed look at the uprising in the Capitol on January 6th and the right-wing extremist rhetoric that fueled it. (“Trump supporters had tasers, baseball bats and batons. I saw a man holding a coiled noose. ‘Hang Mike Pence’, people shouted.”) In a special video segment, the magazine offers exclusive footage of the chaotic siege. In The Invention – and Reinvention – of Impeachment, Jill Lepore records the complex history of the process. Finally, in “Trump’s Impeachment and the Worsening of President’s Accountability,” released last February, Amy Davidson Sorkin warns of the consequences of failing to condemn in the 2020 impeachment process: “Trump, for his part, will no doubt see acquittal as a license to further Abuse. “As Schell put it nearly fifty years ago, at certain key moments we are forced not only to confirm the truth in our own thoughts, but to move forward with certainty and respond to these beliefs.
– David Remnick
In a democracy we cannot ignore the truth.
The Capitol was breached by Trump supporters, who declared at rally after rally that they would use violent efforts to keep the president in power. A chronicle of a predicted attack.
The president will see an acquittal – predetermined by the highly partisan Senate – as a license for further abuse.
Luke Mogelson followed Trump’s supporters as they huddled into the Senate Chamber and used his phone’s camera as a reporter’s notebook.
It’s the ultimate political weapon. But we never agreed on what it was for.