After an insurrection in the U.S. Capitol building that left five people dead and forever imprinted images of lawless chaos inside one of the deepest symbols of American order and democracy, a coalition of Connecticut lawmakers on Thursday called upon Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Donald Trump from office.
At a rally near the White House on Wednesday, Trump, who has repeatedly lied about the results of the 2020 election, urged his supporters to march to the nearby Capitol building and protest the ongoing confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden.
There, insurrectionists breached security barricades, injured police officers and unlawfully entered voting chambers, temporarily causing a pause in the Electoral College vote certification process. The mob of pro-Trump extremists also vandalized offices and looted property.
The violence failed. Hours after the siege, Congress received the votes of the Electoral College and certified Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election.
But the impacts of the insurrection were wide-reaching and left five people dead. One woman was shot and killed by police, and three others died in apparent medical emergencies due to the mob violence.
On Thursday, The U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that Officer Brian D. Sicknick died after being injured “while physically engaging with protesters” during the Wednesday riot.
Lawmakers say the blame clearly lies at the feet of Trump.
“They were, in effect, incited, instigated and supported by Donald Trump,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “I believe that Donald Trump is unfit to serve one day longer in office.”
Blumenthal told reporters Thursday that Pence must invoke the 25th Amendment and mobilize the president’s Cabinet to remove Trump from office.
After the attack at the Capitol, Trump posted a video to Twitter reiterating a lie that he won the election. He then told the extremists storming the Capitol “we have to have peace” and said “Go Home. We love you. You are very special.”
Twitter later deleted that post and locked the president’s account.
“The president seems unable to process the fact that he lost the election,” Blumenthal said. “He seems to reject reality, which is a sign that he is unfit for this office. But more fundamentally, he is acting to overthrow the results of the election. To block not only the certification, but the peaceful transition of power.”
Other Connecticut Lawmakers Call For Trump To Be Punished
The president’s apparent excuse of a violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by his extreme supporters drove many other Connecticut lawmakers to join in calls for him to be discharged from his duties as commander in chief.
“President Trump’s actions raise serious concerns about whether he’s mentally fit,” Rep. John Larson (D-1st District) said in a statement sent late Wednesday night. “Some would say he has malignant narcissism psychosis. He attacked his own Vice President, tried to coerce the Georgia Secretary of State, and without any evidence found by any state, he still claims he won the election in a landslide.”
“I encourage Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to proceed with the 25th Amendment. I am very concerned about President Trump’s ability to govern our country over these next 14 days,” Larson said.
Speaking on Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live, 4th District Congressman Jim Himes said the president promoted a violent insurrection against the United States government.
“In two weeks from now we can’t be chuckling to ourselves about ‘oh my goodness, what a silly thing from now that Donald Trump did,’” he said. “There must be accountability.”
But Himes said that if Trump were impeached, it would only validate extremists beliefs that the “deep state” is and always has been out to get the president.
“As a practical matter, the probability of him being impeached by Congress is pretty close to zero,” he said. “I won’t editorialize on whether that is a good thing or a bad thing because I am operating on about two hours of sleep right now. And I have zero faith that the people that are close to the president that could invoke the 25th Amendment have been shaken from their cult-like devotion.”
In a statement released shortly after Congress concluded the electoral vote count certifying Biden’s victory, Trump acknowledged his term in office is coming to a close. He said there will be an “orderly transition on Jan. 20,” but he repeated the lie that the facts bear out his false claims that he won the election.
Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro said the insurrection Wednesday was an attack on America, and she wants answers to why it happened.
“The coup attempt at the Capitol yesterday was instigated by President Trump and responsibility for the violence rests with him and his supporters who ransacked the People’s House,” DeLauro (D-3rd District) and Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) wrote in a joint statement.
“However, the breach of the Capitol raises serious questions about what law enforcement did and what they should have done differently,” the representatives wrote.
Blumenthal said he saw “incidences of heroism” on the part of Capitol Police but said he will call for a full investigation into the way law enforcement and National Guard leadership responded to the mob.
“I want to know among official decision makers why there was such an inadequate response,” Blumenthal said. “The Department of Defense should be held accountable, not just the Capitol Police.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
Murphy, the ranking member on the Senate subcommittee that oversees the U.S. Capitol Police, told reporters Thursday he was struggling to understand why authorities weren’t better prepared, as his staff had received a warning to stay away from the building.
“And so there clearly was knowledge that the threat level was higher yesterday,” Murphy said, while also raising questions about the military’s response. “Inside that building yesterday were the top three people in the line of succession to become president.”
Murphy said that had it been a different group of protesters, they would have been treated more harshly.
Himes also questioned the way law enforcement interacted with the protesters, saying it underscored problems of racism in America.
“That is one of the more stark illustrations of white privilege that I’ve ever seen. When Black people are angry and expressing their opinions the response is one thing and dramatic,” Himes said. "When white people, and I am here to tell you that it was all white people yesterday, are angry and expressing their opinions, the reaction could not be more different.”
Two Connecticut Residents Arrested During Riot
The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department announced Thursday at least two Connecticut residents were placed under arrest Wednesday for curfew and riot-related violations.
Victoria Bergeson, 40, and Maurcio Mendez, 40, were both listed in an arrest database released by Metro Police and cited for “unlawful entry” and “curfew violation.”
Metro Police said the investigation of the incident is ongoing. At least 56 police officers were hurt during the chaos at the Capitol, according to the Metropolitan Police Department’s chief.
Police are offering rewards for information leading to the arrest of several individuals who were captured on camera breaking into and looting the U.S. Capitol building.
On Thursday, Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham encouraged people with information about the riot to contact the FBI.
“If the District of Connecticut is the appropriate venue for the prosecution of individuals involved in that disgraceful and criminal activity, our office will aggressively pursue any such matter,” Durham said in an emailed statement.
This story was updated on January 8, at 8:10 a.m. to include new information from the U.S. Capitol Police. Connecticut Public Radio’s Ali Oshinskie and Tess Terrible contributed to this report. This story contains information from the Associated Press.