Michael Gerson rightly noted in his Jan. 19 op-ed, “The GOP must recommit to democratic ideals,” that there can be no “new beginning” for the GOP without an honest assessment of what the party of Lincoln has become. At a 2016 campaign rally, then-candidate Donald Trump boasted, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” With only 10 Republicans joining Democrats to impeach the president a second time, we can amend his earlier statement to read:  “I can incite a mob that attacks the Capitol and kills a police officer, but 147 Republicans still won’t vote against me.” 

Fear of a primary challenger initially spurs congressional Republicans to embrace Mr. Trump’s post-election subterfuge. Self-preservation even eclipses the danger, violence and constitutional betrayal they experienced on Jan. 6. After a harrowing six-hour delay, 147 Republicans voted to affirm the lie that spawned the insurrection. History will record those who chose job security over the peaceful transfer of power that defines American democracy.

One hundred and forty-seven congressional Republicans ended the Trump presidency exactly where they began: standing with a morally and ethically empty man to further their political and personal ambitions. Except this time, five people died.

Maryellen DonnellanFalls Church