State and local leaders reacted with scorn and disgust Thursday on the heels of violent protests and attempted insurrection by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday that left four dead.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called for President Donald Trump to be immediately removed from office Thursday, calling on Vice President Mike Pence, Cabinet members or Congress to invoke the 25th Amendment after inciting a mob of supporters to storm the Capitol in objection to Congress voting to cement President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.
Schumer is slated to become the next Senate majority leader after Democrats won control of the chamber in two Georgia runoff elections Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19
“Yesterday, a core tenet of our democracy – the peaceful transition of power – came under siege. And in appalling fashion, the siege occurred in the People’s House. Just hours earlier, President Trump gave a speech to his supporters in front of the White House, where he not only spewed baseless claims of election fraud, but also proclaimed to those listening, ‘You’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong.’
“Even more brazenly, after the mob breached the doors of the Capitol, in a complete dereliction of his duty to protect the American people and defend our democracy, the president continued to spew lies about the election being stolen, called the insurrectionists ‘great patriots,’ and went so far as to say that ‘these are things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away.’
“The president’s actions and words during a moment of great peril for our democracy make it plain that he is unfit for the Office of the President. I took an oath to protect our democracy against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And with a heavy heart, I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to protect our democracy, President Trump must be removed from office by his own cabinet or this Congress.”
Former U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19
“What happened yesterday was a national disgrace. Unfortunately, the president fomented that mob and invited that mob to go to the Capitol. As Sen. [Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell said, it was an insurrection against the government and against the United States and our Constitution. [Trump’s] always been unconventional, but his actions in the last 60 days since the election have veered dangerously over the line and culminating with the despicable actions of yesterday. I think if the man had any shred of decency or character left, he would do us all a favor and resign his office now.
“This really plays into the hands of our adversaries across the world. Don’t for a moment think the Russians or the totalitarian rulers of China are not going to make the most out of this to disparage a Democratic system and promote their alternatives. So that’s what also is particularly upsetting about the actions of the president. He’s not only undermined our democracy here at home, but he’s undermined the standing of America throughout the world.”
State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda
“As public officials, we are elected to solve problems. We are at a critical moment in our state and nation, and it’s more important than ever for leaders at every level to help heal the division sowed by political extremes on both sides and focus on addressing the critical issues facing the American people, including public health and economic recovery.”
State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-46
“The violent and ill-intentioned actions we witnessed yesterday in the U.S. Capitol fly in the face of all that we stand for as a country and cannot be accepted. We need to condemn this un-American siege and hold those propagating it accountable. As public servants, it is our greatest duty to ensure that our leadership is rooted in truth, respect and accountability. Partisanship is at an all-time high at the federal level, but here at the state level, I’m focused on issues that will help everyone regardless of party affiliation — protecting our clean water resources, closing the broadband gap, and working to support our small businesses and upstate communities. We have big wounds to heal and it is critically important that we move forward together and at all levels—federal, state, and local—to honor one of the most fundamental practices of our democracy: a peaceful transition of power among presidents.”
Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102
“The violence in Washington, D.C. yesterday was inexcusable. It doesn’t matter which side of the political spectrum you’re on – it’s wrong. As President Trump said today, there will be a peaceful transition of power to the next administration, and that is where the focus should be: toward peace and unity. We were disheartened by what we saw in our nation’s capital yesterday, but we remain focused on working to do all we can to help New York families and small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I believe it’s best for our country to focus on peace and unity, and a peaceful transition of presidential power will help work toward that goal.”
Greene County Republican Committee Chairman Brent Bogardus
“I was disgusted by what I saw happen at the Capitol,” Bogardus said. “There is no place in this country for that type of behavior. It really should not and cannot be tolerated. I would hope that those vandals that broke into the Capitol are punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
Bogardus, who also serves as a Greene County Board of Elections Commissione, said he believes concerns about the election have been addressed.
“There were legitimate issues and concerns with this election that needed to be addressed and they have been,” he said. “The election is over. President-elect Joe Biden has won.”
Bogardus does not think the President will be impeached, he said.
“We’re talking two weeks here, less than two weeks now,” he said. “Am I disappointed with the response yesterday? Yes. But does it rise to the level of that magnitude? I don’t believe so.”
Greene County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Riggs
“Yesterday was a dark day for our country and we must not look away. I’m hearing a lot of ‘what happened is not America’ but I think we have to take a good hard look at that. It is America. We’ve bred that behavior, incentivized it and then failed to hold perpetrators accountable. Not just this year, not just for years, but for decades. We fail in calling out domestic terrorism, we shy away from calling white protestors rioters, and we don’t hold leaders accountable for inciting violence and treachery. No one should be surprised by what happened yesterday. Everyone should be ashamed of it though and pledge to work toward ensuring that our nation’s Capital is never attacked like that again.”
Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore
“It’s not who we are,” Linger said. “I think it was quite ridiculous what went on down there regardless of what anyone thinks. It’s just a ridiculous reaction, There’s a right way and a wrong way and violence is never the right way.”
Linger does not believe the 25th Amendment will be invoked or the President will be impeached.
“I think people have to take individual responsibilities, including the president, but I don’t think it will go that route,” he said.
Legislator Jack Keller, R-Catskill
“I think it’s a crying shame and it’s a very sad that thing happened to all Americans. No matter what political party you’re associated with, violence should never happen.”
The events that took place were an embarrassment, Keller said.
“Internationally, we’re so respected and so powerful,” he said. “People got to be laughing at us. How can we suggest to others what to do when we can’t take care of things ourselves?”
Keller does not think that the President will be impeached.
“Impeachment ain’t going to happen,” he said. “He’s done. What’s he got, 12 days left?”
Legislator Michael Bulich, R-Catskill
“I think it’s a shame what happened yesterday in the halls of Congress,” Bulich said. “It was a pretty peaceful demonstration going on most of the day with well over a million people. A couple of dozen people to tainted what was otherwise a pretty peaceful march by the people for redress of their grievances and their First Amendment right. We as citizens of this country cannot allow our constitution to be abridged by either riots or government officials.”
Bulich disagreed with the way state election laws were changed, calling it unconstitutional.
“In doing so, it invalidated those elections in those states,” he said. “When people lose confidence in the elections being fair and free, that’s when things get dangerous.”
Bulich did not think the 25th Amendment would be applicable.
“I don’t see where there’s a physical or mental incapacitation by our current president,” he said.
Legislator Charles Martinez, R-Coxsackie
“I think it was despicable. It was something I don’t think any of us have ever seen. People are going crazy. This country is upside down. I’m a Trump fan but he should have acknowledged that Biden was the President-elect and he should have conceded but he didn’t and that caused a lot of what happened yesterday. Four people dead, and why?”
Martinez said he was unsure what the outcome will be in terms of impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “I just wish things were different. I wish he would have conceded and we would have resolved a lot of hated and what’s happening today. The American people don’t deserve this. What happened yesterday was a tragedy and should have never happened.”
Legislator Ed Bloomer, R-Athens
“It’s heartbreaking to see the Capitol of the United States of America under siege,” Bloomer said. “I’m afraid that the fault of this is going to fall mostly on the Republican Party and I want the world to know that’s not who we are. These are fringe groups. These were terrorists, they were not patriots. I think the real patriots were the congressional staff members that picked up those bundles of cases of paper ballots so that the terrorists breaching the building couldn’t burn them.”
Bloomer didn’t think the president would be impeached, but advocated for the 25th Amendment.
“I don’t think there’s enough time for impeachment, that would be a toothless gesture,” he said. “If they don’t exercise the 25th Amendment now under these circumstances, there’s no point in having it.”
Legislator Greg Davis, R-Greenville
“It was disrespectful to the government and it was wrong,” Davis said. “It looked most of the Trump supporters were pretty peaceful and some of the people there were looking for trouble.”
Some protestors wore helmets, knee pads and elbow pads, Davis said.
“A few of them have been linked to other protests in the summer that were very different politically, so I think some of the people used this event to make trouble.”
Davis said he believes that while some of the protestors were Trump supporters, others were linked to ANTIFA and referred to them as “professionals.”
Davis does not think the President will be impeached, he said.
“We’re literally a few days away and I think Trump has spoken out against this rioting and I heard on the news this morning he promised a peaceful transition,” he said.
Legislator Larry Gardner, D-Hunter
“What happened in the Capitol yesterday was disgusting,” Gardner said. “There certainly isn’t enough time to consider impeachment, that’s off the table whether it’s warranted or not. I think exploring the 25th Amendment is warranted. Anyone who would incite a crowd with incendiary language and direct them toward the Capitol shouldn’t be president.”
Catskill Village Vice President Joseph Kozloski (D)
“I think it was a travesty,” Kozloski said. “The Capitol should have never been breached and more security should have been brought in beforehand. They’ve had other protests there before and they’ve brought in lots of other police force just to show a presence.”
Kozloski said those involved should be prosecuted to the fullest and that invoking the 25th Amendment is up to Congress.
Resident Ben June, Athens
“I think it was despicable what happened last night. I think it was criminal. I think maybe a little excessive to call it terrorism, but it was an insurgency, an attack on American democracy and I’m disgusted at those involved,”
Resident Elisabeth Lauffer, Palenville
“My initial response was incredulity and horror then at hearing about it and then seeing the images and video. That was my initial response.”
Resident Noah Harley, Palenville
“It was a little bit of surprise and then after feeling like oh well this actually seems kind of like a fitting ending to these four years - to the 4 years of Trump’s presidency I mean - but also just the kind of tenor of the whole debate sort of feels like it would somehow make sense for people to be storming into the Capitol. Not in the sense that they’re justified but just in terms of the kind of hysteria of the politics right now. But yeah I guess the initial emotional reaction was kind of surprise and shock and then after that it felt more of what we’ve sadly come to see as normal or something.”