The House of Representatives will vote Wednesday to impeach President Trump a second time. Republicans should support the effort.

Impeachment of any official, especially a president, should not be pursued lightly. It is warranted only when evidence is overwhelming that a public officer is incapable of upholding the public trust. That often means evidence of criminal intent or action: Someone who takes bribes, for example, should be impeached because it shows the official can’t be trusted to act for the public rather than for his or her own interests.

The president’s actions since the election clearly show that he cannot separate what is good for the country from what is good for him. He fanned the flames of public discord with wild and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, a direct assault on the most valuable asset any republic has: faith in the fairness of the election process. His call for multiple rallies in Washington in support of his fantasies, culminating in the Jan. 6 rally that turned into the violent storming of the Capitol, showed a reckless disregard for the health of our country. Angry crowds who believe their nation is literally being stolen from them are capable of acts of rash madness. Trump might not have intended for his legions to attack Congress, but only a fool would have so egged them on if violence had been even a remote possibility.

President Trump’s statements on Tuesday show that he has no remorse for his actions. He still believes the election was stolen. He still believes his role in organizing and supporting the Jan. 6 mob was appropriate. He says he disdains the violence, but his slow reaction to condemn the riot and weak statements opposing it as it was happening seriously undermine his words. There is every reason to believe that he would have been content had the mob forced a captive or cowed Congress to overturn the election. Such a man cannot sit in the Oval Office.

Impeachment would allow senators to remove Trump, but it would also allow them to permanently bar him from ever holding federal office again. That, not his removal from the last seven days of his term, is the real aim of this endeavor. We have seen that he is a tremendously effective demagogue. We know that, absent a legal bar against his future candidacy, he could seek to regain the presidency in 2024 or beyond. We also know that, if successful, he would reenter the Oval Office burning with revenge and with a steely resolve to secure his rule that was largely absent during his current term. Had he been seriously bent on autocracy, Jan. 6 might have been much more effectively planned and possibly successful. The United States cannot take that risk.

I did not support impeaching Trump last time. I believed then that, while he might have committed an impeachable offense, his removal would have unleashed public turmoil that would have seriously damaged our republic. It was best to leave the judgment of his conduct to the people via the democratic process. We had that election, and the people rendered their verdict.

Many of my fellow Republicans are likely to disagree with me. Some argue that a second impeachment and removal would be divisive and inflame public passions. It is, and it will. That does not change the choice they face. If they support Trump now, they are willing to admit that someone with his demonstrated character is capable of holding the highest office in the land. That is a terrible misjudgment.

Early on Jan. 6, The Post's Kate Woodsome saw signs of the violence to come hours before thousands of Trump loyalists besieged the Capitol. (The Washington Post)

To Republican members of Congress who might be afraid for their political future and perhaps their lives, I ask them to consider the words of Pope John Paul II: “Be not afraid.” Security details can protect you and your families, and you ought not to fear for your political life. You will have nearly two years to explain your vote to constituents. Once Trump is out of office, the loyalty many Republican voters have for him will wane. He will no longer be their leader holding back the liberals. Republican voters might initially believe he is a martyr for their causes, but they also have not heard any serious Republican voices contesting his lies and bluster. There is no reason to think you cannot persuade them to change their minds by telling the truth.

Republicans, often against their best instincts, gave Trump the benefit of the doubt for four years. We can no longer doubt: We know now beyond a reasonable doubt what he is capable of.

This cup shall not pass. We must drink of it. Those who do will not earn eternal life, but they will give our country a chance for a renewed life.

Our country’s founders pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to secure our freedom. We, their heirs, must do no less.

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