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Reps decry Capitol riot

Western Tidewater’s congressional and state officials called the riots by supporters of President Donald Trump who breached the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. a disgrace, with some calling for the invoking of the 25th Amendment or impeachment to remove him from office before his term ends Jan. 20.

One woman was shot and killed, and four others died in connection to the Jan. 6 riots, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

Trump spoke to supporters at a rally prior to the riots on a day when he had implored the Senate to overturn the result of the presidential election, telling them, among other things, that they should never accept defeat. He had previously urged them to come to D.C. Jan. 6, saying in a tweet, “statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Later, thousands of his supporters stormed into the Capitol building with poles bearing blue Trump flags and forced their way past police, who were scrambling to defend the building and its inhabitants, including lawmakers and their staff, against the mob.

However, Vice President Mike Pence and several other Republican senators, including then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said they did not support overturning the results of the Electoral College, even though other Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate, after the Capitol had been cleared and proceedings resumed, unsuccessfully contested the Electoral College vote certification.

President-elect Joe Biden, in remarks following the riots, said it did not reflect “who we are” as Americans.

“What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness,” Biden said. “This is not dissent. It is disorder. It is chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end. Now.”

Trump released a video that evening urging rioters to go home as he continued to say the election was stolen from him, and said people should “go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

He later said Jan. 7 that he would focus on “ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” as a new administration would be inaugurated Jan. 20, saying “tempers must be cooled, and calm restored,” and that “we must get on with the business of America.”

Reaction from both of Virginia’s senators, Democrats Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, was swift.

“The Cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment against Trump,” Kaine wrote in a tweet. “If he wants to challenge, Congress should vote him out.”

Kaine noted that “what took 34 minutes in 2017 took more than 14 hours in 2021—because, goaded by the President and abetted by some of my fellow Senators, right-wing insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in support of an effort to overturn the election results and install an unelected government.”

News reports circulating Jan. 8 indicated that articles of impeachment were going to be introduced as soon as Jan. 11.

“This president is unfit to remain in office for the next 2 weeks,” Warner tweeted Jan. 7. “Every minute he’s in power, he continues to be a threat to our security. It’s time for the 25th Amendment.”

Warner, the incoming chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a conference call with reporters that the FBI had told him and others the day before the riot at the Capitol that there were “resources and intelligence” to handle it and were “flat wrong.”

He also said social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and others shouldn’t escape scrutiny.

“While I’m pleased to see social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube take long-belated steps to address the President’s sustained misuse of their platforms to sow discord and violence, these isolated actions are both too late and not nearly enough,” Warner said.

He said the platforms have been “core organizing infrastructure for violent, far-right groups and militia movements for several years now, helping them to recruit, organize, coordinate and in many cases — particularly with respect to YouTube — generate profits from their violent, extremist content.”

The region’s representatives, Donald McEachin and Bobby Scott, also called for Trump’s removal from office, either through the 25th Amendment or via impeachment.

“(The) violent riot at the U.S. Capitol was a mob of sedition and insurrection, prompted, encouraged and incited by President Trump,” McEachin said in a statement. “President Trump’s behavior … and his behavior since the legal, legitimate and fair election of Nov. 3, 2020, clearly has demonstrated that he either cannot or will not lead this country or govern this great nation. Either President Trump needs to be immediately impeached and convicted or the Vice President and the Cabinet must invoke the 25th Amendment, remove President Trump from office and allow Vice President Pence to serve the remaining … days until Inauguration Day.”

Scott called what happened “a violent coup” and said it was one of the darkest days in the country’s history. He said Trump “essentially incited a riot” and noted his lack of attention to the COVID-19 pandemic, calling Trump “a risk to democracy and national security.”

Scott said Trump has ignored and mismanaged the pandemic, saying his “dereliction of duty” has cost more than 125,000 lives since Election Day, and that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout “has been nothing short of disastrous.”

Those who represent Suffolk in the state legislature decried the violence of the U.S. Capitol riot.

“The violence and lawlessness in our nation’s Capitol … is an absolute disgrace to democracy and should be universally condemned by every American, including our president,” said Republican state Sen.Tommy Norment.

Emily Brewer, 64th District delegate, said she condemns violence and property destruction.

“The ability to protest is a fundamental right in our society,” Brewer wrote on her Facebook page. “Putting our fellow Americans in harm’s way is not. … As American citizens, we have the right to redress our grievances, but we must also respect one another and keep each other safe during that process. Our democracy depends on it.”

Suffolk Mayor Mike Duman, reacting to the riot at the U.S. Capitol, said “it’s unfortunate that our country is torn at this particular point and that there is not a smooth transition because we do have to respect the process of democracy.”

He said that throughout this, “we’ve got individuals that are exercising their First Amendment rights and they’re absolutely entitled to do that and should do that. On the other hand, we maybe have other individuals that really need to set aside their own personal agendas and concentrate on what’s best for our country and its citizens.”