(CNN)When the history of the 45th presidency is written, Wednesday, January 6, will go down as the day America realized how dangerous President Donald Trump really is.
In the span of hours, the country finally witnessed the price of its five-year experiment turning its election process into a reality show that produced an unhinged megalomanic as commander-in-chief who amassed so much power through his lies and fear-mongering that he was able to engineer an insurrection as a final act that left democracy dangling by a thread.
Wednesday's siege at the Capitol marked the culmination of Trump's years-long quest to cultivate a fiercely loyal base that would do anything for him by playing on their fears and resentments as he lured them into believing his incessant lies about the sinister motives of government, election fraud and his own conduct.
The consequences were deadly: five people have died as a result of Wednesday's riot, including a Capitol Police officer. Some of Trump's supporters were armed and ready for war: an Alabama man allegedly parked a pickup truck with 11 homemade bombs, an assault rifle and a handgun two blocks from the Capitol hours before authorities discovered it, according to federal prosecutors. Another man allegedly showed up with an assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, telling acquaintances he wanted to shoot or run over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pipe bombs were found near the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee as authorities tried to dispel the mob and secure the Capitol.
But three days later, Trump appears no more aware of the consequences of his actions than on the day of the riot when he delighted in the mayhem. Bunkered at the White House with an ever-shrinking circle of aides, he has offered no remorse for inciting the crowd and offered only a forced denunciation of their actions. Aides, weary and disgusted, refuse to come near him. His central line to the outside world, Twitter, was severed Friday night. People who admired him, worked for him and followed him down dark paths before now say he has crossed into a delusional place, entirely detached from reality.
Wednesday's shocking events can be traced to the inception of Trump's candidacy. From the earliest days of the 2016 presidential race, his rallies crackled with tension and anger -- a testament to his skill in finding the fault lines on issues of class and race and exploiting them to draw in followers who felt marginalized and wronged by their leaders. His supporters had hungered for a charismatic leader like him who would empower the "silent majority" and serve as a voice for their grievances. He thrilled them as he blasted through societal norms and the guardrails of democracy, while offering safe harbor to White supremacists, conspiracy theorists, anti-government renegades, racists and anti-Semitic activists who fell in line behind a political figure who would channel their rage in exchange for their fealty.
As he lurched from one shocking maneuver to the next, Trump commanded the constant attention of the press, broadening his universe of followers as he used Twitter as his megaphone. By threatening to punish his critics and by firing civil servants who tried to check his thirst for power, he cowed members of the Republican Party and his own aides, who became complicit in his unraveling of democracy. Meanwhile, much of America grew numb to his circus act, shrugging off the magnetic power of Trumpism as though it was a passing fad.
Trump faces fallout
That all changed Wednesday as the country watched the mob encouraged by Trump scale the walls of Capitol, beating back police officers as they smashed through the historic building's doors and windows, shattering glass to force their way in bearing metal pipes, sticks and other weapons. Lawmakers from both parties were forced to cower below the seats in their respective chambers before being evacuated to secure locations, as the insurrectionists ransacked congressional offices and attempted to occupy the nation's seat of government on the day Congress was affirming President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election. The barbarism of the day was underscored by chilling reports that some of the Trump faithful were on the hunt for Vice President Mike Pence — who had refused to accede to the President's demand that he overthrow the election results and was presiding over the counting of the Electoral College votes.
As the horrifying riot unfolded in the "people's house," it became clear that Trump had finally gone too far. His political capital was already weakened by the Republicans' defeats in two runoff races in Georgia that were poisoned by the President's lies about voter fraud — with some in the GOP openly blaming Trump for their resulting loss of the Senate majority.
And the breach of the barricades that put the lives of the nation's lawmakers in danger began to break -- at least for now -- the spell that Trump has cast over his party. When order was restored some outraged Republicans condemned the President for his role in inciting the violence; others signaled it was time to move on and rebuild the Republican Party after four years in which the President has tried to bully them into submission.
With Democrats now poised for full control of Congress, Trump was now facing real consequences for his actions. During the overnight certification of results, which had been delayed by the rioters, the rumblings began among Democratic members of Congress about whether he could be ousted through the 25th Amendment or impeached for a second time to prevent him from holding office again.
Momentum has only grown among Democrats for fast-track impeachment beginning next week, and the latest draft of the resolution obtained by CNN included one article of impeachment for "incitement of insurrection." Many Republicans, however, say that step is futile for a President who has less than two weeks left in his term.
Still as the glass was being swept up from the Capitol grounds, some GOP lawmakers considered supporting his impeachment. More than a dozen administration officials, including two Cabinet secretaries, have resigned citing their concerns with Trump's response to the riot.
"I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage," Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News in a report published Friday, making her the first Republican senator to call on Trump to resign because of Wednesday's riot.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a frequent Trump critic who favored acquitting Trump in the first impeachment trial last year, said Friday during an interview on Hugh Hewitt's radio show that he was seriously considering whether he would vote to remove the President from office once articles of impeachment are introduced. "There are a lot of questions that we need to get to the bottom of," he said.
Sasse also voiced concerns about Trump's response to the riot, noting that senior White House officials had told him that Trump "wanted chaos on television" and was "confused about why other people on his team weren't as excited as he was" as rioters pummeled Capitol Police trying to get into the building.
"The question of 'Was the President derelict in his duty?' That's not an open question. He was," the Nebraska Republican said.
Earlier, Republican Utah Sen. Mitt Romney -- the lone GOP senator to vote to convict Trump in 2020 -- called Wednesday's invasion of the Capitol "an insurrection incited by the President," and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the GOP leadership team, said the combination of the losses in the Georgia Senate races and the storming of the Capitol underscored the GOP's need to move beyond Trump.
"Our identity for the past several years now has been built around an individual," Thune told CNN this week. "You got to get back to where its built around a set of ideals and principles and policies."
Facing staff resignations and a looming impeachment, Trump made a meager attempt to mitigate the damage by finally acknowledging he won't be serving a second term in a prerecorded video Thursday evening. But the next day, he was tweeting about his supporters having a "giant voice" and said he would not attend President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, a hint that he would continue his efforts to delegitimize the election results.
That was the final straw for Twitter, which announced that it was permanently suspending Trump's account "due to the risk of further incitement of violence." With