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John Avlon: Calls For Unity Without Accountability Invite Escalation

"The 14th amendment wouldn't apply to all 147, but some members of Congress like Mo Brooks went even further in inciting the riot," the CNN analyst said.
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John Avlon was blunt on CNN's New Day this morning.

"Calls for unity without accountability are an invitation to further escalation," he said.

"But how do you handle members of Congress who incited the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol? Meet the 14th Amendment -- specifically, Section 3. It passed in the wake of the Civil War and established citizenship and equal protection for former slaves, but it also addressed how to deal with former Confederates and sympathizers, who wanted to rejoin Congress as if they'd never taken up arms against the United States.

"'Quote, no person shall be a senator or representative in Congress, hold any office, civil or military under the United States or under any state who, having previously taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.'

"We are not, thank God, engaged in civil war. But the Miriam Webster's dictionary defines insurrection as an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government. And that's a pretty good description of what happened last week when a violent mob stormed the Capitol building, trying to stop the counting of electoral votes, leaving five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. It was part of a big lie pumped up by Donald Trump and backed up by senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz. They were playing a cynical game with our democracy, trying to profit politically from our divisions.

"Now, the 14th amendment wouldn't apply to all 147, but some members of Congress like Alabama rep Mo Brooks went even further in inciting the riot.

MO BROOKS: Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!

"Now House and Senate leadership need to decide on how to deal with them. There is censure, which is a rare official rebuke from congressional colleagues, but the 14th Amendment offers a clear consitutional path toward expulsion. Yes, this is serious stuff, but if inciting an insurrection isn't a serious charge, nothing is. And that's why violation of the 14th Amendment may also factor in President Trump's upcoming impeachment vote.

"While he'll be leaving the White House in disgrace on January 20th, he is still playing with fire. Witness today's trip to Alamo, Texas, where Trump will check on progress of the border wall, but his chosen site has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Because of course, The Alamo, located in San Antonio, is the site of America's most famous last stand, where Texas separatists fought Mexican forces for 13 days. Spoiler alert: Pretty much every American died, and Trump's dog whistle comes as the FBI warns some of his supporters may be planning more armed protests on Inauguration Day.

"It's a reminder that our divisions will not disappear overnight, but without real accountability rooted in our laws, we will encourage history to repeat, rather than learning the right lessons so we can go forward into the future with a common sense of civic values and facts.

"Most notably, as Abraham Lincoln once said, there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet. And that's your reality check."

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