Three days before the president incited a deadly attack on the Capitol, my colleagues and I swore an oath to defend our Constitution. In that oath, I swore “that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
At the time, we had no idea that those enemies would be beating down the doors of the Capitol building and attempting to storm the House Chamber just 72 hours later. But this violent mob did not act alone. They did not act without a leader. They did not act without instruction.
On the morning of Jan. 6, this same mob was crowded outside of the White House to receive an address from the president of the United States. Radicalized by months of the president’s baseless lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, all they needed were marching orders. The president delivered. He told them to go to the Capitol. He told them to stop Congress from certifying the legally cast Electoral College votes that would make Joe Biden the next president of the United States.
I was in the House Chamber when the mob breached the Capitol. I can tell you firsthand that they had a clear intent to impede Congress from doing its sworn duty. I can also tell you that they were not only inspired, but directly instructed to be there by President Trump. When this mob of domestic terrorists took the life of a Capitol Police officer, they did so in the president’s name. Later that night, we returned to the House Chamber and completed our constitutional duty to certify the election results. But even after the violence and bloodshed of that day, some of my Republican colleagues — including several from Southern California — continued to fan the flames of the conspiracies that had led to the violence to begin with. They continued their blind, undying support of the president and voted against the certification of a free and fair election despite knowing their votes would only serve as an endorsement of the attack we suffered only hours before.
The president’s actions that day, and in the months leading up to the attack on the Capitol, made clear that he poses a direct threat to our very democracy. That is why I joined 232 of my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, to vote in favor of one Article of Impeachment. I understand that many of my colleagues who opposed this vote claim to have done so in the name of healing and unity.
Americans are united by our founding principles and by the promise that in this country, not even the president is above the law. To excuse the behavior of President Trump in the name of “unity” is an insult to the common values on which our country was built.
Our bipartisan vote for impeachment was a vote for accountability. It was a vote to recognize that no American is above the law, and that our democracy cannot be taken for granted. This president represents a clear and present danger to our democracy. For a Member of Congress to deny that is to deny the evidence in front of their own eyes and choose loyalty to one man over duty to their country. We swore an oath to protect our Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic and by voting to impeach President Trump, I’m confident that I upheld that oath.
U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar served as Redlands mayor from 2010 to 2014 before being elected to the House of Representatives.