Last Wednesday, Democratic New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney spoke with WAMC just hours after the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol. At the time, he said waiting for the transfer of power rather than impeachment or any other approach to remove President Trump would suffice. Now, as more information has been revealed, Maloney wants to see President Trump out of office days before Joe Biden assumes the presidency.
Maloney spoke about where he stands now following a press conference Monday in Orange County.
“What happened on Wednesday, and what we are learning more every day, is that there was an organized effort to stage a violent insurrection and to overtake the United States Capitol. That is a very serious offense. And in fact, it was a conspiracy of many different actors. And it was incited by a pernicious lie that the election was stolen. And, and that, in my mind, raises very troubling questions about the capacity of the president to exercise the awesome powers of his office for one more moment,” Maloney says. “And so I think he should do the right thing and resign. I think if he doesn't, the Vice President and the Cabinet should invoke the 25th amendment. Failing that, the House of Representatives will move to impeach. I think it's more than justified by what happened this week, and, and I encourage the Senate to take it up and to remove him.”
Maloney says he signed onto the resolution for Articles of Impeachment.
“The president can make it easy on all of us, by the way, and do the right thing and resign, the way Richard Nixon did,” Maloney says. “And the people in the United States Senate and elsewhere, whose support he will depend on to remain in office could go to him right now and say, Mr. President, it's time to it's time to resign. Now that happened in Watergate; it should happen now. But we are going to do the right thing. And we're going to do it this week.”
The House is expected to begin debate this evening on a resolution asking Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, remove Trump from office and take over as president in the waning days of the Trump administration. House Democrats intend to take up Articles of Impeachment Wednesday, with Republicans expected to introduce a resolution of censure. Meantime, several congressional Democrats have been calling for the expulsion of members of Congress who they say violated the 14th Amendment. Maloney says there is a specific provision therein.
“The Civil War-era provision of the 14th Amendment that gives Congress the right to deny public office to people who took up arms against the United States or engaged in insurrection. Who would have ever thought that that provision would actually be applicable to our modern context. So I think everybody ought to just take a deep breath and think about what a tragedy it is that we're even talking about that. I don't think there's any place in public office for anybody who incited this violence, who gave, gave, gave life to this pernicious lie that the election was stolen, and that misleaded these people to the point where they would undertake this kind of mayhem. So I have no problem with banning people from public office who staged violent insurrections against the United States government. That's a pretty high bar, by the way, in case people think we're setting a dangerous precedent. So I think that's, I think that's, that exists for a reason; I think it might be applicable in some cases. Obviously, we're going to be careful about, about criminalizing or, or, or elevating routine political disagreements into some sort of disqualification to hold public office. So I think there is a danger that you could go too far with that,” says Maloney. “I think what we ought to start with first and foremost, are the people who broke into the Capitol and engaged in violence. They should be identified and arrested and prosecuted. I would then, I would then prioritize decision makers in the United States government who can interfere with the peaceful transfer of power. So executive branch officials at the, at the Defense Department at the Justice Department, they need to be accountable right now for what they're doing or not doing. Our professional military officers need to be reminded that they can refuse unlawful orders. It's hard to believe I'm even saying that but these are serious issues right now. We need to get to the bottom of why national security assets like the National Guard were withheld in the response time for the Capitol, while some of us were literally being chased by a violent mob. There were several hours that went by where the, where, where these insurrectionists held control of the United States Capitol. Friends of mine were sheltering in their offices calling their spouses saying they might not live through the day. That delay time was completely unacceptable. And if there are officials in the executive branch, who slow-walked those approvals of the Maryland National Guard, for example, they need to be held accountable for that. And and it doesn't stop there.”
“I do believe that, that there are good people in the Republican Party who know this is crazy. And they need to find their voice and say that. There are others, sadly, in that party, who have allowed themselves to participate in this lie that the election was stolen, some of them here locally, by the way, and I think that there's no place for that. And I'm, I am done, done making excuses for that. I think that notion that you can play around with this kind of incendiary misinformation, that you can whip people up, that you can put them on buses and send them down there and say, I don't know, I guess there were good people on both sides of the insurrection, which I've heard some people suggest. The fact is is that this was a rally first and foremost to overturn the results of a lawful American election, and it, and it descended into violence and a coup attempt on the United States Capitol,” says Maloney. “And I've never seen anything more serious in my lifetime, I hope I never do. And, and I don't think we can take seriously enough the fact that it would not have been possible if the President and others had not spread this lie about the election, and they're still doing it. And it needs to stop.”
“The right thing to do is to have a full investigation of what, what went on, but the real urgent matter is that the President of the United States is the one that started this, is the one who incited these people to violence, and he still wields the power of the presidency. That should scare all of us. He still has nine days left in which he could use the powers of the presidency to further undermine our institutions, our freedoms, our Constitution. That's unacceptable to me. Everything else can be taken one at a time. I think next on that list for me would be identifying and arresting the people who, who directly engaged in this violence, starting with the people who killed Officer Brian Sicknick, a heroic member of the Capitol Police who was bludgeoned to death, defending the Capitol. If, if, if, if, if anyone was involved in that, they need to be rounded up immediately. Well, we know people were involved in it, but the individuals who were involved in it need to be identified and rounded up immediately. And then there was, there's a, there's a, there's a constellation of other crimes that were committed by hundreds of people. And we should be throwing every available resource at holding those people accountable,” Maloney says. “But there is also moral and political accountability that matters here. And that will, in most cases, sit with the voters where it belongs. And frankly, it sits with all of us, as Americans, each one of us, each one of us has a question to ask whether we stand with the Constitution, regardless of our political differences, whether we stand with the Constitution, or whether we stand with that violent mob. And we each need to look into our hearts and answer that question, ladies and gentlemen, and we need to ask ourselves what we can do differently to bring our country to a better place. And that accountability ultimately, is important, too, that there be a political and moral reckoning for those who spread this lie, who continue to spread it, and who, and hope they can then slip away and say, well, I was just raising questions about election integrity, nonsense. I was just, you know, responding to all these concerns people have. Well, those concerns were generated because people have been lying to them. Now's the time to knock off the silliness and the insanity and to act like adults again because people are losing their lives. And our entire constitutional system is being put at risk. I'm sorry, I feel very strongly about it but, but nothing like this has happened in the 244 years that we have been a country. No group of Americans has ever broken into the United States Capitol and engaged in this kind of violence, never, not once in two-and--a half centuries. So you tell me whether this is an extraordinary moment or not. And I think that more than justifies the impeachment and removal of the President and accountability for all those who enabled this.”
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney represents New York’s 18th District.