The entire New York City Congressional Delegation was inside the Capitol Wednesday afternoon to fulfill what is otherwise a mundane quadrennial tradition: the formal receipt of the 50 states’ electoral presidential and vice presidential votes.
But, the proceedings were halted just after they started after an angry mob of Trump supporters-turned-rioters stormed the Capitol building — unleashing an afternoon of chaos that sent lawmakers scrambling for cover.
It took National Guard troops and police officers from two states and the District of Columbia hours to get the situation under control, and clear the heart of American democracy for the House and Senate members to continue their task.
All of New York City’s House members, as well as Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, went through the ordeal without injury. Yet after it was done, and as they resumed their constitutional duties, many of them blasted the attack on the Capitol and threw the blame squarely in one direction.
“Today was nothing short of sedition – a coup attempt,” Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng said. “President Trump called his supporters to descend upon the People’s House and defy the will of the people. The election is done. The people have voted. The only thing left to do is to accept these results; anything else is a rejection of our democratic principles.”
Bronx/Westchester Congressman Jamaal Bowman, who only took office three days ago, on Jan. 3, agreed that Trump’s rhetoric fueled the mob’s rage that led to what amounted to an unsuccessful coup attempt.
“What we saw today was an attempted coup, fueled by white supremacy and a fascist in the White House— the logical extension of our failure to reconcile our history. This IS America,” he said.
Bronx/Queens Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to briefly describe her experience, saying she wound up in lockdown for several hours.
“For now, we must focus on [the] task at hand: to preserve the integrity of our democracy, hold accountable those responsible for their attempts to subvert our nation’s elections and shred our Constitution apart,” she wrote.
The attack occurred shortly after outgoing President Trump — who, for months, has repeatedly spewed false fraud and rigged claims about the 2020 election — spoke to thousands of his supporters just steps from the Capitol. He said, at one point, “You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. … Our country has had enough and we will not take it anymore.”
Even as the mob attacked the Capitol, Trump wouldn’t let up. In a video posted on the White House account, he told the invaders to go home, but repeated his baseless claims about the election being stolen from him. That led social media outlets to temporarily lock his accounts and delete some of his more inflammatory posts.
In the aftermath, various members of the New York City delegation said that the time had come for Trump and others responsible who worked up the mob into a violent frenzy to be held accountable.
“What our nation witnessed today — what the world witnessed today — was that President Trump is a danger to our country and our Constitution — and he must be removed immediately,” Meng added.
AOC agreed, posting just one word on her Twitter account Wednesday night: “Impeach.”
Trump’s in-house supporters
Bowman also called for Trump’s immediate removal from office, and expressed support for Missouri Congresswoman Cori Bush’s call to expel Republican members of Congress “who incited the attack on the Capitol.” Brooklyn Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez also announced support for Bush’s idea.
If passed, such a resolution could impact the city’s lone Republican Member of Congress: Nicole Malliotakis. The newly elected southern Brooklyn and Staten Island lawmaker denounced the violence on the Capitol, but had previously said she would join a band of other Trump-supporting Republicans in objecting to the electoral votes of some states.
“I condemn in the strongest terms those who are wreaking havoc and participating in violence and lawlessness,” Malliotakis said in a statement. “Their actions are unconscionable, unacceptable and un-American – each should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Later that evening, though, she kept her word and voted to object to the results of Arizona and Pennsylvania.
The 25th Ammendment
Congressman Jerry Nadler of Brooklyn and Manhattan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, joined all Democratic members of the panel in sending a letter to Vice President Mike Pence imploring him to invoke the 25th Amendment — which would facilitate Trump’s removal from office through an agreement between the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet.
Various news outlets reported that cabinet members are currently considering such a measure.
Schumer, who is poised to become the next Senate Majority Leader, said Thursday he supports the immediate removal of Trump from office. The Brooklyn native said that Pence and the Cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment would be the swiftest way to get Trump out of the White House — “it can be done today,” he noted.
Both the House and Senate broke for recess until Jan. 19 after the chambers completed the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory early Thursday morning. Schumer said they should immediately reconvene and begin impeachment proceedings if Pence and the Cabinet fail to act.
No president has ever been impeached twice; Trump was impeached in the fall of 2019 for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, but was acquitted at trial the following February — with 52 of the 53 Republican senators finding him not guilty (Utah Senator Mitt Romney was the lone exception).
A version of this story first appeared on AMNY.com.