After President Donald Trump’s encouragement of supporters who went on to overrun the U.S Capitol building Jan. 6, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar said he should be impeached and removed from office.
“Donald Trump remains the single greatest threat to our democracy,” said Omar, a Democrat who represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, in a statement. “Every day that he remains in the office of the presidency – overseeing the United States military and nuclear arsenal – is a day the safety of the American people and the world are threatened. The very administration officials who have been complicit in his crimes cannot be relied upon. We must impeach and remove him from office immediately so that he cannot threaten our democracy and the world any longer or hold public office ever again. Congress should reconvene immediately to carry out this constitutional duty.”
In a virtual press conference Jan. 7, Omar called the actions of Trump’s supporters “a violent attempt to interrupt our democratic process.”
The actions occurred as Congress met to count Electoral College ballots that confirmed Joe Biden’s election as U.S. president.
“It was a targeted blow at the most essential process that makes us a democracy, and it was directly and specifically incited by the president of the United States,” Omar said.
She cited Trump’s comments to a crowd, which she said included white supremacist groups, to go to the Capitol. The president added, “We’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones – because the strong ones don’t need any of our help – we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
Omar also noted that “while the violence was still happening, and members of Congress still feared for their lives,” Trump said in a video to his supporters, “We love you, you’re very special.”
Trump did advise his supporters to go home in the video but later posted a tweet that contributed to Twitter’s decision to temporarily suspend his account. The social media company permanently banned him Jan. 8.
“This is incitement, plain and simple, of a coup attempt against our government,” Omar said.
Of her own experience, she said, “I was in my office when the attackers broke into the Capitol and thankfully was quickly able to find a safe place in a secure location.”
Reflecting on the later Congressional votes to accept the Electoral College outcome over objections from some members, she said, “I knew we had to finish our job that night. We could not let our Constitution be trampled on by a mob and threatened by a tyrant. We could not let them succeed in stopping the most sacred process in our democracy: the peaceful transition of power.”
Omar criticized the security response at the Capitol Jan. 6.
“This was a catastrophic failure, and an already dangerous situation was made more dangerous by the failure of law enforcement,” she said, later adding that she believes law enforcement leaders should resign – which several subsequently did – and that an investigation into the response should take place.
Nevertheless, she urged caution on reforms.
“I am terrorized by what happened, but the answer cannot be a broader security structure or a deeper police state,” Omar said.
Lawmakers must remain dedicated to justice, human rights and civil liberties but must ensure “that none of this can ever happen again,” she added.
On impeachment, she said, “I do believe that we are facing an imminent threat from this president.”
Omar acknowledged that she has long felt the weight of having been targeted by the president.
“Many of my colleagues have not fully understood just how inciteful and dangerous the president could be,” Omar said.
After the evacuations and pipe bombs discovered Jan. 6, Omar said, “I in ways feel vindicated, as someone who’s raised the alarm, and in some ways feel saddened that what we thought could be possible has been made possible.”
She noted that some colleagues compared the takeover of the Capitol to occurrences in other countries.
“You know, we are not like other countries,” Omar said. “We are the United States of America. And if what happened yesterday was happening in any other country, leaders in the United States would be calling for the resignation of that president. They would be calling for an expulsion of, you know, the members of that body that did what members of our body did. And, you know, there would be support for that nation from the United States to forcefully deal with the people who were responsible for that attempted coup.”
She said the events Jan. 6 differed from “a hard year filled with unrest and riots.”
Omar said, “I can’t really express how torturous it is for me as someone who was not only born in another country but who spends a significant time in other countries and pays attention to what’s happening internationally to now know that there are members of Congress whose lives have been changed forever by a physical threat. We’ve all felt that came because of a president of our country telling people they had to do everything that they can in order to keep him in office. It’s not only intolerable, it’s shameful, and we should all be embarrassed and angry as a nation that this could ever take place here.”
She suggested Biden should rescind any invitation for Trump to attend the presidential inauguration this month.
“We cannot risk what took place yesterday happening on Jan. 20th,” she said.
Trump announced Jan. 8 that he would not attend the event.
About 200 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have indicated support for impeachment, according to a published report. U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat who represents Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District, announced Jan. 7 that he supports articles of impeachment.
Omar said, “Our hope is that we will come together and be able to proceed.”