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Senate Must Punish Trump For Capitol Riot: Commentary

The mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was not engaging in peaceful protest. Some members of the crowd chanted that they were intent on finding and harming Vice President Mike Pence in their effort to heed President Trump’s instructions to stop the electoral process. Through the adept and quick action of the Secret Service, Pence escaped.

Although police were unable to prevent a breach of the Capitol and some deaths, the vice president and members of Congress weren’t physically harmed. Nonetheless, the threatening atmosphere of that afternoon has influenced the position of legislators since that day.

The invaders’ desperate attempt to halt the certification of the Electoral College with violence was thwarted, yet those who witnessed and survived this perilous event are unlikely to forget the terror they felt. At the Capitol, as the raging horde entered, aides who grew up with active-shooter drills told their bosses to lock the doors, turn off the lights and stay quiet.

Mob mentality is a well-known psychological phenomenon. The frenzy of an irate crowd can spiral into an aggressive force where individuals participate in violence they would otherwise abhor. Shared anonymity allows dark emotions to surge. An incensed rabble develops a group, trance-like state, capable of extremes, from bullying to lynching.

History is strewn with horrific incidents where duplicitous leaders, aware of their sway on a mob, incited gratuitous violence upon the innocent. The rhetoric of Donald Trump and his cohort, both on the day and well before the Capitol riot, fits this mold perfectly.

Trump’s growing anger and his implicit remarks on Jan. 6, including, “And we are going to have to fight much harder,” made his position clear; he felt the vice president was on the verge of betraying him. He transferred his wrath to his supporters.

Read entire article at Orlando Sentinel