Images broadcast from the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. this week are sickening. The building was breached by a mob rejecting Joe Biden’s victory in the November election and demanding that Donald Trump remain as president. One person was shot in the melee, Capitol offices and the chamber were looted and incendiary devices were found there and elsewhere in the city. No one should be surprised by this grim and depressing turn of events. It is the natural culmination of weeks of increasingly strident, baseless and desperate assertions by the president and his supporters that the election was stolen.

The damage will be cleaned up and Biden will be sworn in as president on Jan. 20. All responsible for this catastrophe must be held accountable but that will not undo the damage that has been done. The scenes of lawlessness and destruction will be seared into the popular imagination not only in the U.S. but around the world. The image of the United States has been indelibly stained.

The violence that erupted this week was inevitable. Trump has been priming this pump for years. It began during the 2016 campaign, when his primary defeats were dismissed with charges of cheating. Even after he beat Hillary Clinton in that election, he insisted without evidence that he had prevailed in the popular vote — which he lost by millions — because of illegally cast ballots.