Democratic Massachusetts U.S. Senator Ed Markey is joining the chorus calling for the removal of Republican President Donald Trump. It comes after extremists violently occupied the Capitol Wednesday in an effort to halt the counting of electoral votes certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Earlier this afternoon, Markey explained to WAMC why he supports impeaching Trump for a second time, and what the unprecedented events of the week mean for America moving forward.
MARKEY: The assault on our democracy by these insurrectionists was something that was absolutely initiated by Donald Trump urging them to make an attempted coup, and it unfolded at the United States Capitol. And he should be impeached. He should be removed from office. He should be barred from ever holding office again. I am deeply saddened. I am outraged. But sadly, I'm not surprised by these events. Donald Trump fomented and promoted yesterday's insurrection. It was sedition, plain and simple. There has been a direct line drawn from his campaign to this moment, and that is why his tenure must come to an end.
WAMC: What are conversations like among Democrats about pursuing a means to that end with the remaining weeks of his time in office?
In my opinion, the 25th Amendment removal proceedings should begin immediately. It could happen very quickly. But the 25th Amendment would not bar Donald Trump from holding office in the future, and it's why I also support Congressman Omar's efforts to impeach the president today. The articles are drafted, let's move forward.
Often people talk about a spirit of bipartisanship in DC. What does that idea mean the day after a contingent of extremists supporting a Republican president storms the Capitol?
Well, my hope is that the Republicans understand that they aided and abetted Donald Trump in his racist, fascist philosophy, his embrace of the Proud Boys, his embrace of a coded message on racial issues that helped to create this movement, which descended upon, attacked, invaded this sacred temple of democracy, the capital of the United States yesterday. My hope is that the Republicans understand that they were complicit because they did not stand up and fight this man. There's only two weeks left to go in his term of office, let's hope that the Republicans have learned a big lesson. Sadly, we could see that many of them, even late last night and early this morning on the floor of the Senate, in the House, were still supporting ardently the Trump lies about the Electoral College votes, and whether or not there had been any fraud that had been committed. So for Republicans, this is their moment to be truly bipartisan. This is their moment to finally learn the lesson. But unfortunately, too many of them were still sticking with Trump on the floor of the House and the Senate after the Capitol building had been invaded. And that is a sad commentary.
Looking past Trump's time in office, what do you feel about the president being prosecuted or held responsible for the actions of the last four years and this past 24 hours after he leaves? You know, there's sometimes talk about moving past these moments in American history- do you think that would be a satisfactory way to deal with the chaos that we’ve seen in DC over the last day or so?
Well, I think we should begin with the ultimate punishment, which is his removal from office, and something that should happen immediately as a way of ensuring that history knows that he was repudiated by the political process. But ultimately, he should be held accountable for any criminal acts, which he has committed, including trying to subvert the counting of votes in Georgia. He absolutely was trying his best to get the Republican Secretary of State in Georgia, by pressuring and threatening him, to fix the election in Donald Trump's favor. So that, from my perspective, is something that should be prosecuted. He was saying on that call, find me 11,780 votes, the precise number that would put him over the top in Georgia. Well, someone should find Donald Trump a real lawyer and measure him for an orange jumpsuit because the list of statutes that this shocking presidential phone call may violate is too long to recite. So yes, he should be held accountable legally for what he was attempting to do.
So, were you in the senate chambers yesterday when the invasion of the Capitol happened?
I was in my office in the Dirksen Building when the over the intercom, the voice said that I should, my staff should shelter in place, the capital was under attack, we should lock the doors, we should draw the blinds and do so until further notice. I was in my office working on the speech, which I was going to deliver on the floor of the Senate with regard to the counting of the Electoral College votes. And reports now say that there was a pipe bomb put on the steps of the Democratic Committee. I don't know exactly where it was, but it was clearly an attack on democracy that these insurrectionists, that they were mounting.
Some have noted a disparity between how this summer’s civil rights protests were handled by law enforcement and the activity at the Capitol yesterday. From your vantage point, did you see a disparity in how Black Lives Matter protests were handled by law enforcement, as opposed to images of police officers letting or escorting insurrectionists into the Capitol yesterday?
Well, you know, we recognize the bravery of the Capitol Hill police and law enforcement officers who protected members and essential workers in the Capitol Complex yesterday. At the same time, it's obvious that there was a severe systematic failure in securing the building's perimeter and in the response once the building was breached. So we have to get to the bottom of these breakdowns and prevent them from ever happening again. We need to robustly investigate yesterday's events, how the protesters were able to enter the Capitol and how to hold the key leaders accountable who may have been responsible.
What is the next step forward for American politics from this moment? There's been so much shock, so many comments about the historic nature of this action. Where do things go from here?
Well, first, I think we have to make Donald Trump accountable. And we need a process either through the 25th Amendment or the impeachment process, to make sure that history knows that on a bipartisan basis, there was a statement of rejection of Donald Trump. And beyond that, we just have to ensure that this is something that gives us an opportunity to learn that it's a very fragile democracy that we have in our country. And we have to work hard on a bipartisan basis to protect it. And we can't allow demagogues, we can't allow autocrats, dictators like Donald Trump to ever again have the kind of power that he was seeking to accrue to himself to the detriment of the wellbeing of our nation.