By Bob Skolnik
In the wake of an unprecedented assault on the United States Capitol building, members of Congress representing the Landmark' coverage area are calling for President Donald Trump to be removed from office before his term ends on Jan. 20.
Congressman Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D-4th District), Congresswoman Marie Newman (D-3rd District) and Congressman Danny Davis (D-7th) all said that Trump should be removed from office with less than two weeks left in this term for encouraging what Newman termed "an act of sedition."
Davis, who represents a portion of western North Riverside and a fraction of Brookfield, summed up his view succinctly in a statement posted to his website: "I support the immediate removal of Donald J. Trump from the office of President of the United States by impeachment and/or via the 25th Amendment."
Garcia and Newman blamed Trump for inciting a mob of his supporters on Jan. 6 by speaking to them near the White House before they entered the Capitol as Congress was preparing to recognize the results of the Electoral College vote in the presidential election.
Congress was debating objections raised by some congressional Republicans to Electoral College votes in Arizona when both the Senate and House abruptly recessed Wednesday afternoon as Trump supporters entered the Capitol.
"It was a tragic day for our democracy and the worst aspect of it is that it was incited by the President," Garcia told the Landmark on Thursday. "I watched the rally. I saw his relatives, his sons, give speeches with vile rhetoric and of course the president just topped it all off.
"It was very clear that he was inciting them to step up their aggressiveness, to fight harder, and of course he did it when both chambers of Congress were deliberating on the Electoral College. It can only be construed as an attempt at a coup."
Garcia, who represents most of North Riverside, almost all of Riverside and Brookfield north of Southview Avenue, said that he hoped members of the president's Cabinet and Vice President Mike Pence would invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which provides for the removal of a president who is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.
Newman, who represents the very southern tip of Riverside and Brookfield south of Southview Avenue, said the 25th Amendment should be invoked or Congress should impeach Trump.
"However it can happen in the quickest way possible," Newman said. "We don't have the luxury of letting this guy loose for another couple weeks."
Newman, who has just been a member of Congress for four days, had already moved from her Congressional office to an undisclosed secure location on the Capitol grounds when Trump supporters swarmed the Capitol.
She said she was not concerned for her own safety but did worry about Congressional colleagues who were on the floor of the House of Representatives.
"I had great confidence in all the security forces that were in place, so I was more concerned for my colleagues and other people in D.C. than I was certainly for my staff and myself," Newman said.
Garcia said he was in his Congressional office in the Longworth House office building watching the floor debate on television building when the Capitol was breached. His office was told to lock down. He and two aides stayed in the office until Congress reconvened Wednesday evening after the Capitol had been cleared.
"We were instructed to not to be out in the hallways, to lock our doors, to find the gasmasks that are available to office staff, and to wait for further instructions, and to stay away from windows," Garcia said.
Both Garcia and Newman were outraged by the assault on the Capitol that they watched on television.
"What happened was disgusting," Newman said. "A breach of our Capitol is an act of sedition, and I just want to be clear that these people that broke into the Capitol with the intent to hurt and pillage.
"And then further, to make it more troublesome, this president has egged them on, affirmed them, confirmed them, called them special. It is disgusting. The overall emotion yesterday was sadness. … I can't tell you the depth of sadness. It was just almost disbelief in the dystopic nature of what was occurring."
Newman said she supported censuring the Republicans in Congress who she said incited the riot by challenging the Electoral College vote in some states.
After the Capitol was finally cleared, Congress reconvened in the evening and, after hours of debate, finally voted a little after 3 a.m. to ratify the Electoral College victory of President-elect Joe Biden.
"I was very proud to make that vote to certify this election and to vote against these opposition forces that objected to the certification," Newman said.
Newman is looking forward to Biden being inaugurated on Jan. 20.
"In 10 or so days we are going to have a president that is competent, that is compassionate, innovative, and willing to work with everybody and govern everyone and that is an absolute 180-point turn from where we were with President Trump so we do have brighter days ahead," Newman said.