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Congressional Corner With Antonio Delgado

Congressman Antonio Delgado
Antonio Delgado, official portrait, 116th Congress
public domain

President Trump is now former President Trump, but he’s still facing an impeachment trial.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Democratic Representative Antonio Delgado of New York’s 19th district continues his conversation with WAMC’s Alan Chartock. This interview was recorded February 4.

Alan Chartock: Hi, this is Alan Chartock in the Congressional Corner here today with Representative Antonio Delgado of New York's beautiful 19th. District. He's been in office since 2019. Welcome back, Congressman.

Rep. Antonio Delgado: Good to be back.

Okay, let's talk about the second impeachment trial of President Trump which is now on the horizon. Why did you personally vote to impeach a second time?

Well, I mean, at the end of the day, we had a commander in chief who doubled down on claims about systemic fraud with regard to the election, despite the fact that there were countless cases, thrown out of court 50, 60 cases, you know, for various reasons, all making a claim that there was no evidentiary basis for his claims. Nonetheless, he continued to fan the flames and tell this lie. And in doing so made it clear to his supporters that it was incumbent upon them to do whatever it took, to make sure that they, in his words, “stop the steal”. And over time, this continued to bubble. It continued to grow. And he was the, in many respects that the biggest bullhorn of this, and for a commander in chief to take this approach without any evidentiary basis and do so all the way up to the point of when it was incumbent upon Congress to certify the elections, to do so up to an hour or two before and, in essence, tell his supporters in the cloud, front of the White House, how important it is to show strength and to make sure that folks in Washington, in Congress know that what they're doing is wrong, to continue to fan that response without any basis in fact. Mind you, a great number of the cases were dismissed by Trump appointees, Republican appointees. So individuals within his own party who were holding true to the facts were holding true to what was commonly accepted knowledge. And then while the violence was ensuing in the capital, the President would tweet things like referring to these individuals who were storming the capitals as patriots or saying things like this is what happens when you basically steal an election. These were his words, tweeting in real time, while these actions were ongoing. Dereliction of duty. More than 200 of my colleagues in the House, voted to impeach. And it was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in American history. It’s important for folks to understand that. The most bipartisan impeachment vote in American history. And when you look at the gravity of the situation, and the President's role, I have a hard time, I truly do, have hard time imagining the scenario unfolding on January 6 but for the fact that President Trump was involved in its unfolding. I don't know how that situation materializes in his absence. And so that to me, is why I ultimately decided it was important. And as we move forward, we still have a lot of work to do, separate and apart from the impeachment, I think that's important to understand. We still have a COVID-19 crisis on our hands, we still have families hurting and struggling economically, that we have to make sure we stay focused on so I want to be clear also, that we could hold folks to account while also doing the work of the people. And we need to do the work of the people when it comes to making sure that we are responding to this crisis on the ground in the form of COVID-19.

So are you safe now, do you think? Is it different than it used to be?

I mean, when you go through something as unprecedented as January 6, it's hard to say that anything can be the same at that point. Something has occurred that up to that point had had had not yet occurred. This was the first time in our country's history that we can say we did not have a peaceful transition of power. Let that sink in. And so when that is the case, it's hard to then say, well, you know, is it different? Of course it’s different. The atmosphere is different. People are on edge. People are rightfully concerned. You know, and I think this is a moment in our country's history where we have to really dig deep and lean on our values, and listen to each other in a compassionate and open minded way. Put faith in each other, but also double down on what's real, and what's not. Also double down on truth. If we live in a world where there's no distinction between fact and fiction, no distinction between the fantasy world or conspiracy theories, and what we commonly accept as reality, which by the way, but for that common acceptance, there could be no social order, we have to agree on a set of facts and reality. And so this is the fight to, and it's incumbent upon us to, cut through all of this fragmented information sources that are out there that are just creating echo chambers and bubbles for people to live within and we can't connect as a result. We have to be able to reach across the aisle, reach across and through these bubbles, and find some common ground, a common set of facts. Because that's part of the reason why it was possible in the first place for something that had no evidentiary basis in fact, none whatsoever. As evidenced by the countless times the court, the courts dismissed the suits, up to 60, that yet still was able to get traction to the point where people were willing to attack our Capitol.

Congressman Delgado, could you talk to me a little bit about what's going on in terms of negotiating the COVID relief package? The Republicans have come forward, some Republicans have come forward and said, let’s split the difference. Instead of you know, all that money, just cut it down by more than half. What's your reaction to that?

I've always made it clear. And I think we've talked enough how to know, I'm always about trying to find the middle ground trying to find common ground, do whatever we can to get things done for the people in a timely fashion. And to the extent that Republicans have countered the Biden proposal with a lower unemployment number or a lower, no direct payment number, to some extent, I guess you could say that's expected and you can try to negotiate. But what really makes me pause about the most recent counter proposal put forward by the Senate Republicans is the lack of any state and local funding. Once again, once again, we already went through this with the HEROES Act. And I can't tell you, I can't underscore enough how many people I've talked to on the ground across the political spectrum, county execs, town supervisors, mayors of villages and hamlets. I'm telling you, Alan, people across the political spectrum are scratching their heads over this one. Why can't we agree on an amount of state and local? Why is that continually being put to the side in every counterproposal? You know, and I've been basically going along here with this, because understanding that we're going to try to get what we can get whenever we can get it. And we did that back in December. But I was very frustrated by that outcome. But here we are now with the new administration, who's made it clear in their package, state and local $350 billion. And the counter proposal is zero again. You got to be kidding me here. And we have a direct formula that I included, that Senator Schumer, Leader Schumer has made been kind of to highlight and push in the Senate, and hopefully we get included, but this would a guarantee that every locality irrespective of population size would get direct relief, which is so critical, and we're talking about teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers, health care workers, police officers. We're talking about all the people on the frontlines doing the work every day, to keep the society we live in, the communities that we live in going.

Congressman, I have to cut you off there for a second. And when we come back the next time we'll continue on this very important subject. So thank you for being here, Congressman Antonio Delgado, we will be back the next time and we'll continue on this question about what's in the COVID relief package. Thanks for being here.

Sounds good.

Dr. Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the University at Albany. He hosts the weekly Capitol Connection series, heard on public radio stations around New York. The program, for almost 12 years, highlighted interviews with Governor Mario Cuomo and now continues with conversations with state political leaders. Dr. Chartock also appears each week on The Media Project and The Roundtable and offers commentary on Morning Edition, weekdays at 7:40 a.m.