Just over a week ago, Representative Lee Zeldin was among a small number of House members to return to the floor to object to the 2020 election results after police and National Guard troops forced hundreds of “Make American Great Again” rioters out of the damaged Capitol. By persisting in this lie, Mr. Zeldin took the side of the pro-Trump armed attackers and betrayed United States democracy.
When confronted with the choice of loyalty to the Constitution or to his own ambition, Mr. Zeldin made the wrong decision. This leaves only one course of action for other members of the House — to expel him and the other leaders of the effort to overturn the election from Congress for encouraging an insurrection based on allegations they knew to be false.
The revolt in no way has been quelled. There remains widespread fear that there is more violence ahead, both in Washington and in state capitals. Lawmakers have been briefed on active threats to their security, leaving a country shaken. The United States government is in an effective state of siege. The security of next week’s inauguration is in doubt. And now there are reports that the F.B.I. had warned other law enforcement agencies in advance about the likelihood of an attack but that little action was taken.
As events unfolded, they exceeded the most dire predictions, with mobs roaming the halls of the Capitol building chanting “Hang Mike Pence” or hunting for members of Congress to take hostage. Each day, as more video and intelligence comes out, we see that the attack was far more dangerous even than it initially seemed, but that does not excuse Mr. Zeldin from his treasonous behavior.
He may not have known in the moment that Capitol police officers were being beaten with baseball bats, metal pipes, and even the staffs of American flags the MAGA horde carried. He could not have known that one officer would die from wounds sustained as he was thrashed in the head with a fire extinguisher. But still, even from a secure room Mr. Zeldin could see with his own eyes the results of this seditious charade. And, seeing that, he continued forward trying to set aside the will of American voters.
Whether or not Mr. Zeldin was part of an organized plot by dark forces or was simply desperate to keep his hold on his district’s MAGA zealots does not matter. The fact that, even as the broken glass and blood was still being swept from the seat of American democracy, he persisted in his attempt to overthrow it, shows that he is unfit to remain in office. After more than four years as one of the corrupt president’s most unfailing supporters, the rot has consumed Mr. Zeldin from the inside, turning him into a putrescent shell with no business remaining in Washington. His failure to stand up for democracy when it really mattered will be his everlasting shame.