WILLITS, 1/7/21 — By now almost all Americans with even a passing interest in the news and politics have learned of the events at the Capitol in Washington D.C.
We spoke with the North Coast’s congressman, Representative Jared Huffman, late Wednesday evening, asking him his view on the events. Huffman was at his office in the Capitol during the riot and according to a detailed report in the North Coast Journal, he “hunkered down,” alone at his office, while the building was stormed and over-taken by Trump supporters. (Scroll down for the interview)
During the riot, Huffman tweeted demanding the 25th Amendment be invoked. That amendment provides a mechanism for the cabinet to remove the president if he is deemed unfit.
Huffman also denounced the protestors and take-over as “terrorism” and “sedition.” In the interview with The Mendocino Voice, Huffman urged the prosecution for sedition of President Trump.
In brief, President Trump staged a rally Wednesday morning, which culminated with him speaking at the White House and urging a large crowd of his supporters to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol to. At that point Trump supporters followed the president’s admonishments and walked down to the Capitol, where many of the protestors proceeded to riot and storm the Capitol, breaking in, destroying property, stealing memorabilia, and even examining congressional computers and leaving notes.
Videos of the event showed some Congressional Police trying to single handedly take on the rioters with batons, others aiming their pistols at the crowd, and still others seemingly aiding and cooperating with the invaders, or at least standing aside. Also visible in the videos are many Trump flags, and even Confederate flags.
By evening law enforcement had rallied and retaken the building from the mob. Congress reconvened at around 9 p.m. and early this morning confirmed the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
The following interview has been slightly condensed for clarity:
Phone interview with Congressman Jared Huffman, Democrat of the North Coast
The Mendocino Voice (TMV): Now that Congress has reconvened are you seeing a change in the attitude of your colleagues, especially those who support President Trump?
Rep. Jared Huffman: They’re chastened perhaps in their tone, they’re all offering statements of great concern about the comity and the institution and the violation that took place…but not much accountability for their role in it. And no reflection that I have seen on whether their wrong-headed challenge of these electors should proceed.
They [Trump supporters] bought in this Trump fiction of election fraud and gave it fuel, through their willingness to challenge the electors.
So they absolutely contributed to the chaos of today. That’s why the angry Trump mob marched down Pennsylvania Avenue and charged the Capitol.
TMV: How do you think the Capitol Police performed today?
Huffman: “I’m really dismayed by some of that, and I do think that there were some heroic attempts to preserve safety and just some really strange coddling of this mob by some of the police and I don’t understand it…No, I think there has to be a full review of this.”
TMV: What do you say of comparisons to recent unrest, including Black Lives Matter?
Huffman: I think it’s an important comparison because it highlights a double standard. The Black Lives Matter was an almost entirely peaceful protest and it was met with extreme force and heavy handed measures. And now we turn around with an all white mob that was very violent and it was met with a light touch.”
TMV: You tweeted earlier saying the 25th Amendment should be invoked. What would you like to see?
Huffman: The way the 25th Amendment gets implemented is the people in the cabinet, the vice-president and others invoke it and Trump is automatically removed, and the burden is then on him to demonstrate his competency and fitness to resume his duties.
That should happen right away and we’re calling for that — I’m not holding my breath because trumps cabinet is now populated by nothing but sycophants and stooges.”
TMV: You also mentioned sedition.
Huffman: What happened today was textbook sedition, so anyone who was part of it, who was responsible for it should absolutely be prosecuted and I include Donald Trump, certainly, first among others on that list.
[Congress] can’t bring sedition charges, it doesn’t work that way it has to come from federal law enforcement. And we’ll see what the next attorney general decides do, by way of investigation and perhaps prosecution.
But I definitely think Trump cannot get a pass, even in the name of comity, even in the name of moving on. You just can’t do this to the Unites States of America and walk away.”
TMV: Do you believe the president was responsible?
Huffman: You would have to be willfully naive to think otherwise, he’s been talking about Jan. 6th for weeks, he has been building this up and he carried that incitement right into this morning as he sent the mob on its merry way to the Capitol.
He had speakers from his inner circle [Rudy Giuliani] using terms like ‘trial by combat’ to incite the mob. So, no, you would have to…it just strains credulity to think anything else. This is a slam dunk culpability.”
TMV: You wouldn’t want to see a situation like when President Ford pardoned President Nixon?
Huffman: This is not that situation. This is very different. And today made it a lot more different..no one has ever done this, this was a violent insurrection aimed at overturning American democracy head-on.
TMV: What do you say to the false rumors that Antifa was involved, or many of the other false conspiracy theories that are swirling around this event?
Huffman: We have got to stop dignifying that garbage. We’ve gotta stop doing this moral equivalency cop-out where you say there’s two sides to every story, and equal shame on both side.
There’s just a right and a wrong here. There is a truth and lie, and it’s time for people of good will, critical thinkers, real Americans to just start calling bullshit on that.
TMV: Given today’s events, what will Congress need to do, what changes will need to be made in the next session?
Huffman: There’s a ton of things that need to happen. There will be legislation to fortify some of these norms and institutions that we’ve taken for granted and that’ve been exposed by the Trump presidency.
But I think one of the immediate thing that there’s growing interest in is impeachment even though we’re running out of time. I think there is a growing appetite for impeaching Trump again, even if it culminates after he leaves office. Because that would at least prevent him from running for president ever again.”
TMV: What was it like personally to be trapped in the building?
Huffman: I was trying to get as much real-time information as possible, in the fog of a scene like this it’s just really hard to know exactly what’s happening….It got much more serious very quickly when we heard that this mob had breeched the Canon Office Building. And soon after that that they had breached the Capitol…
I was surprised frankly that they were able to breech both of those perimeters and many of my colleagues are going to have to ask some hard questions about how we engaged those protesters and whether we did it vigorously enough. We’ve certainly seen some footage that suggests an almost kid-gloves approach by some officers and that makes no sense to me this was a violent group of thugs and many of us could see this coming, so why we would somehow treat them as begin — moving aside barriers…there’s just some really disturbing footage that needs to be accounted for.
TMV: What do you think of the prospects for certifying these Electoral College votes? [Note: the votes were certified early this morning.]
Huffman: You’re not going to hear me defend the electoral college ever, it is an anachronism, it is a relic of slavery, and it’s very anti-democratic, I would love to get rid of it. But we’re stuck with it for now. And for purposes of tonight and tomorrow we’re going certify this completed electoral college outcome and it’s going to finalize the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and I have no doubt about that.
TMV: Looking forward, how does this bode for the Biden Presidency, and question of whether the American people can agree on things?
Huffman: I hope that there is a silver-lining in all this that it provides some kind of reality check, a reset for people who just have gotten way over caffeinated in their partisanship.
And of course the election victories last night in Georgia give us a really strong hand with which to approach our colleagues across the isle. So there are some factors that bode pretty well for bipartisan problem solving in this coming congress