January 21, 2021
With President Joe Biden officially at the helm of the country for just over 24 hours, Democrats appear to be sighing with relief but many of them are still focused on ensuring those behind the Capitol siege are held accountable — particularly former President Donald Trump.
For Sam Liccardo, mayor of San Jose, California, impeachment isn’t a harsh enough punishment when considering the allegation of incitement of insurrection levied against Trump. Liccardo said serious punishment is necessary in order to deter other presidents, or others seeking office, from committing similar acts.
"I know he’s going to be facing plenty of other challenges in terms of criminal prosecution, but it’s important for posterity that this particular crime be punished," he told Cheddar.
In a recent op-ed published on Medium, Liccardo, a Democrat, called for Trump to go to prison for what he called the former president's role in the insurrection. "Doing nothing merely raises a greater, countervailing risk: emboldening ambitious demagogues," he wrote.
The former president is already under investigation in New York for a number of other allegations, several of which he was able to delay during his term in office.
In Congress, there is a countering sentiment among some Republicans that attempting to imprison the former commander in chief would further divide the country, but according to Liccardo, the country needs to get behind those GOP members of Congress who have acknowledged Trump's actions as being criminal.
"I think we can build unity over issues of common purpose around defeating this pandemic and addressing our economic recession, at the same time that we collectively stand together and say we need to protect our constitutional institutions," Liccardo said. "And when there’s criminal violations in those institutions, such as for insurrection, we need our constitutional criminal processes to be actually carried out."
As fired up as some Democrats may be in their calls for justice, the legal waters are murky, particularly in this instance, when it comes to criminally charging the president with crimes linked to the Capitol siege. For the prosecution, the burden of proving that it was an orchestrated revolt against the government would be extremely high. Still, for the San Jose mayor, it’s imperative, if unprecedented, that a real example be set to protect democracy.
"We have prosecutions under way now for dozens of those who invaded the Capitol, but if the legacy is that you only prosecute the puppets, then future puppeteers know that they have license to try again. And it’s important to hold those accountable who are leading this effort," he said.