More than 300 historians and constitutional scholars have signed an open letter calling for the impeachment and removal of President Trump, saying his continuation in office after encouraging supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol posed “a clear and present danger to American democracy and the national security of the United States.”
Those who signed the letter, released on Medium on Monday, include best-selling authors like Ron Chernow, Taylor Branch, Garry Wills and Stacy Schiff, as well as many leading academic historians. A number had joined a previous letter in December 2019, calling for the president’s impeachment because of “numerous and flagrant abuses of power” including failure to protect the integrity of the impending 2020 election.
“Since November 2020,” the new letter says, “Trump has refused to accept the results of a free and fair election, something no president before him has ever done.”
Throughout his presidency, the letter says, “Trump has defied the Constitution and broken laws, norms, practices and precedents, for which he must be held accountable now and after he leaves office. No future president should be tempted by the example of his defiance going unpunished.”
In his four years in office, the president has found few admirers in the liberal-leaning historical profession, whose members have repeatedly assailed him not just for his policies and rhetoric but for what many see as his and his administration’s distorted and inflammatory invocations of history itself.
In September, the American Historical Association issued a statement condemning the first White House History Conference, held at the National Archives (and planned, the statement noted, without the involvement of any professional historical groups). That statement, joined by dozens of other scholarly organizations, called the event a “campaign stunt” aimed at stoking the culture wars and blasted the president’s “ill-informed observations about American history and history education.”
Politically, the condemnation by historians may carry less weight than the president’s loss of support in recent days from business groups that once supported him or his policies. But David Greenberg, a historian at Rutgers who drafted the new letter, said that historical expertise mattered.
“This is an attempt to speak not just as citizens, but from our understanding of the history of American democracy and the Constitution,” he said of the letter. “When you study American history as a matter of course, the outrageousness of Trump’s action can seem all the more striking.”