The sacking of the nation’s Capitol by an angry mob incited by President Trump has offered revealing insight, however tragically obtained, into elected officials from Washington to Long Island and what should be done going forward.
Trump is a clear and present danger to this country and if he had any honor, he would resign immediately. He incited an insurrection against the U.S. House and Senate intended to overturn the 2020 presidential election that claimed the lives of five, including a police officer. Enough said.
But we know Trump has no honor and the chance that he will step down is less than zero.
So others must act quickly.
Social media, led by Twitter, finally removed Trump and his constant falsehoods from their platforms. In Twitter’s case, it cited not only the violent rampage of his supporters but what the company said was a looming “secondary attack” on the U.S. Capitol and state government facilities.
The FBI released a bulletin Monday that armed assaults by domestic terrorists in Trump’s thrall are planned for the Capitol, where President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in Jan. 20, as well as the nation’s 50 statehouses.
Democrats in Congress asked Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows the removal of a president unfit for office.
Members of the mob Trump had stoked with false claims that the election was stolen from him targeted Pence as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with assassination threats – in Pence’s case, by hanging.
Pence did refuse Trump’s demand to exceed his ceremonial role in confirming the Electoral College’s results to overturn the election. But he rejected a House motion that he invoke the 25th Amendment to force Trump’s immediate removal.
That has left it to Congress to hold Trump accountable. The House was expected to fulfill its constitutional obligation by impeaching Trump for “incitement of insurrection” on Wednesday.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was reported to believe Trump had committed an impeachable offense, has said he would not convene the Senate until Jan. 19, the day before Biden’s inauguration. But so what?
Congress must show the American public, the rest of the world and future occupants of the White House that the president is not above the law and that breaking the law has real consequences.
Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) had it right the day after he was forced to take cover during the attack on the Capitol. He said he would support “any action that will hold [Trump] accountable for his irresponsible and reprehensible behavior. Whether it is the removal from office by his cabinet utilizing the 25th Amendment, expediting impeachment, censure or prosecution.”
Suozzi was joined by Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) in demanding Trump’s immediate removal.
Jay Jacobs, chairman of the Nassau County and New York State Democratic Party, went even further by rightfully demanding punishment for Trump’s enablers in Congress.
Jacobs called for the resignation of Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and four New York congressmen, including Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), for refusing to certify the results of the Electoral College based on Trump’s false claims.
“Supporting a lie that you know to be false has consequences, as we see today,” Jacobs said following the mob’s assault.
Incredibly, Hawley, Cruz, six other senators, the four New York congressional members and 135 other House members voted against accepting the results of the Electoral College. After the assault on the Capitol.
All should resign and if they do not, their leaders – Hawley, Cruz and House Minority Speaker Kevin McCarthy among others – should be expelled from Congress. And the others should be ousted at the ballot box.
The response of other elected officials on Long Island fell shockingly short of recognizing the threat posed by the actions of Trump and the mob of neo-fascists, Nazis, white supremacists, anti-Semites and other enemies of democracy the president controls.
Republican Congressman Andrew Garbarino, who recently was elected to take the seat vacated by Peter King and voted to accept Biden’s victory, strangely went on about “unelected bureaucrats” disenfranchising “our legislative system, both at the state and federal level” in response to the assault on the Capitol.
This sounded like he was questioning states where voting laws were relaxed due to COVID-19, decisions that state and federal courts repeatedly found was within the law.
But Gambarino at least went on to correctly state that “it is not the role of Congress to overturn the election or take actions that silence voters.”
Nassau Republicans failed to point a finger at Trump and instead offered tepid condemnations of violence – as if any condemnation was actually needed.
Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said that “the individuals who ‘stormed’ the Capitol should be ashamed of themselves; the ones who committed criminal acts should be prosecuted.”
Two problems with this. Is there any question in Nicolello’s mind that domestic terrorists “stormed” the Capitol? If not, why the quote marks? Second, everyone who stormed the Capitol broke the law and should be prosecuted. We would expect a lawmaker to know this. No?
State Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) also offered little more than platitudes in a very short message.
“People who resort to violence and vandalism undercut the core of our democracy,” Ra said. Yes, and…?
In the past, Ra has had far harsher things to say about people who supported bail reform in New York and police reforms that he has falsely implied amounted to “defund the police,” a favorite talking point of Trump.
Even more disappointing was the statement from Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat.
While the attack was taking place, Curran said she supported the peaceful transition of power and that violence should never be accepted as if that were in question. But then said she is “lending my voice in support of law enforcement who are keeping everyone safe.”
How about your concern for the senators, congressmen and women, staff members and vice president under attack? Nor was there any mention by Curran of Trump and his enablers.
A second problem is saying law enforcement was keeping everyone safe.
It is true that many members of law enforcement were heroic in their defense of elected officials and their staff. But others were seen standing by as the mob entered the Capitol, taking selfies and not arresting them when they walked out.
The overall response of law enforcement to the attack from the federal to the local level was an epic failure that will require months to investigate, beginning with how an armed, overwhelmingly white mob was allowed to get into the Capitol in the first place.
Why did police withhold fire on thugs intent at least in some cases on assaulting the vice president, senators and congressmen with deadly force?
Does anyone believe that this would have happened if the attackers were Black or dressed in traditional Muslim attire?
The timing was particularly awkward for Curran.
Protesters had recently slammed a contract she negotiated with Nassau’s largest police union that they said did not sufficiently address policing reforms, which union members later rejected.
More bad news came Friday when more than a dozen members of a Nassau community advisory panel formed to consider police reforms resigned after the release of a plan ordered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that they said they neither helped create nor had a chance to review.
But the problems of race in policing, serious it may be, is not the most urgent issue facing us.
Now is the time for all public officials in Nassau County and around the country to acknowledge the grave threat posed by Trump to our democracy and their firm commitment to stop him.