Democratic New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of the 18th District was on the House floor when a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday during a joint session of Congress that was meeting to certify November’s election results for President-elect Joe Biden. He spoke with WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Wednesday night about what he experienced and how Congress should proceed over the next two week in relation to the president.
“While we were, you know, engaged in the in the job the Constitution requires — counting the Electoral College votes. The Republicans were undertaking to object. The Senate had left to go back to its chamber. And debate had begun on the objections, and it was a sort of split-screen moment because I was watching on my phone out of one eye what was happening outside and and as it developed, and then, of course, it was only a matter of moments before the protesters were inside the Capitol. You could hear the tear gas canisters being deployed. The Capitol Police made an announcement in the chamber that we should reach under our seats and pull out the, you know, the, the, the gas masks that are, you know, kept there for emergencies or chemical attack,” Maloney says.”
“And at that point, the protest reached the doors and began to break the windows out of the doors that were around the house chamber. The staff performed in really heroically, the Capitol Police as well, dealing with a completely out of control situation. So the protesters had reached the doors, literally the doors of the chamber, which had been quickly closed and locked. And the staff had piled furniture up, which is honestly a sight I thought I'd never see, desks and, you know, heavy heavy lamps and anything they could find. It looked like, it looked like a movie scene, you know, with a barricade at the doors. And this prevented the protesters from gaining access to the House chamber temporarily. But you know, the security people had their guns drawn, the glass was being broken out of the doors. And you could you could hear the tear gas being deployed outside of the rotunda. So it was a completely unacceptable situation,” Maloney says.
“And it is the result of weeks, really months of incendiary disinformation, you know, flat out lies by the President about what happened on November 3. His simple inability to accept the results of a free and fair election has led him down this dark path of inciting people with with lies and misinformation, to the point where you now have a mob doing what has not been done to the United States Capitol since British soldiers stormed the place in 1812. And I think, everyone, everyone who can hear my voice, who is a Republican or Conservative, needs to ask themselves, whether this is being done in their name, whether they support what is happening in the streets of Washington right now and in the People's House, which is the United States Capitol. And I'm telling you that that the staff and the Capitol Police have their lives endangered today. And it's wrong. I spoke to a friend of mine who works, you know, in a, in one of the leader’s offices on the ground floor of the Capitol, they were barricaded in their office for two hours, the protesters were trying to break the door in for two hours until they were rescued by the sergeant at arms and Capitol Police. She called her husband who, who was on the House floor with me when we evacuated. And she asked him, they have two small children, she asked them, you know, is this it? And he had to tell her he wasn't sure. And what I want people to, what I want people to think about is is whether political ideology or political debate is worth the life of one good person who may be just going to work today and doing their job, because we have never done this in our country in 240 years, with the exception of the Civil War,” says Maloney.
“And and and the members of Congress who are objecting to the Electoral College tally, I have strong disagreements with what they're doing. I think it is, I think it is, it is disappointing and unfortunate, but they have a right to do it. But but no one can sanction, no one can sanction what happened today. And it is it is as predictable as it is unacceptable, that if you feed people a steady diet of lies and misinformation about what happened on Election Day, they will be moved to this kind of dangerous and, and and violent activity. And there should be accountability for that people must, must stand up and say this is unacceptable. You don't get to win every time in a democracy. And when you lose, you got to man up and accept it and and go back and win the next time, and make your arguments within the Constitution and the law. And and none of it have to say that. We need more adults right now in the United States of America who who set a better example for for the kids who are watching this unfold. And, and I gotta tell you, I never thought that I'd be standing on the floor of the House watching staff, in a panic-stricken way, pile up desks and furniture to keep an angry mob from storming the People's House. And, and, and it just should never, it should never get to this point. And it's incumbent on all of us to lower the temperature, to measure our words and to and to conduct ourselves like responsible adults who serve the Constitution and the law and who and who and who accept when the voters, you know, reject our our ideas or our candidacies and move on,” Maloney says.
“Do you support President Trump stepping down now? Is it feasible to remove him?” asks Dunne. “I see Representative Omar, drafting articles of impeachment.
“Yeah, look, I mean, we're gonna remove the president in two weeks under the Constitution. That's the right thing to do. You know, it is, I understand why why people are demanding accountability from the president for his his lies and his irresponsible behavior. But the greatest accountability can, is the peaceful transfer of power under our Constitution. And that needs to occur,” Maloney says. “And what we witnessed today is an assault on on on the most important and sacred ideas that have kept this country together for two centuries. And I don't care what your political party is, I don't care what your political ideology is. We need to join hands and reject this kind of nonsense. And we need to, we need to inaugurate a new president under the Constitution and our laws, because that's what the people voted for.”
“As you as you've made the case, every time you're running for reelection, you're in a Trump district, right? And so how do you, what do you say to your constituents, you know, on both sides, because I think there's a bit of anxiety and concern about what could transpire in the next two weeks,” Dunne says. “I mean, if I heard you correctly, you're saying, you know, let's not necessarily waste time with articles of impeachment and trying to remove him. Let's sit this out. We have two weeks. That's a long two weeks, given what just happened.”
What I'm saying is, is that the greatest accountability for this president will be to be removed from office in accordance with the will of the people under our Constitution. That's going to happen in 14 days,” says Maloney. “Between now and then, all of us in positions of leadership need to measure our words and and take seriously the fact that people will believe this nonsense if you, if you tell it to them.”