Op-Ed: Riot at Capitol Hits Many Hard

A Single Day Shakes…One Nation to the Core,” said one front-page headline.

As the attack by rioters on the Capitol shook the nation, it also shook this area and this state—hard.

As Rob Calarco, the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, declared: “I watched with shock and horror as the United States Capitol was stormed by rioters today…This deadly attack on a national institution…is an assault on our country and what we stand for.” .

Governor Andrew Cuomo said: “The cornerstone of our democracy is the peaceful transfer of power. We must call this what it actually is: a failed attempt at a coup. This is the final chapter of an incompetent, cruel, and divisive administration that has trampled on the Constitution and the rule of law at every turn, and we won’t let President Trump, the members of Congress who enable him, or the lawless mob that stormed our nation’s Capitol steal our democracy.”

It was not a surprise. 

Mr. Trump tweeted followers on December 20th—“Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

And then, in a speech in front of the White House last Wednesday, addressing his backers who had arrived, said: “We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue…and we’re going to the Capitol.” He added: “You have to be strong.”

His call was preceded by his lawyer, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, proclaiming “let’s have trial by combat.” Mr. Giuliani represented Mr. Trump in many courts in challenges to his election defeat with claims that judges found untrue.  

At the Capitol, members of the House of Representatives and Senate were getting set to cast ballots in support or opposition to state votes in the Electoral College determining Joe Biden was the winner. 

“Trump Incites Mob,” was the banner headline across the front-page of The New York Times. Below it were photos of rioters getting into the Capitol last week including into the House and Senate chambers. “So this is how it ends,” began one article, written by Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the Times and now writing a book on Mr. Trump’s time in office. The Trump presidency, it went on, “rooted from the beginning in anger, division and conspiracy-mongering, comes to a close with a violent mob storming the Capitol at the instigation of a defeated leader trying to hang onto power as if America were just another authoritarian nation. The scenes in Washington would have once been unimaginable: A rampage through the citadel of American democracy.”

After the riot was finally over—and why did it take so many hours for police reinforcements and the National Guard to arrive?—members of the House and Senate ,who had been taken to “secure” locations, returned under guard to discuss and cast ballots on the Electoral College vote. They certified it. 

Two of the three House members representing Suffolk, Republican Tom Suozzi and Republican Andrew Garbarino voted yes. Republican Lee Zeldin, who has been extremely close to Mr. Trump, was among 121 GOPers who voted no to certifying Mr. Biden as the winner. And he issued a statement about the riot saying, “This should never be the scene at the U.S. Capitol.” Mr. Zeldin didn’t mention Mr. Trump or his incitement.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, after the lawmakers reconvened, said he had “never lived through or even imagined an experience like we have just witnessed in this Capitol….the final, terrible, indelible legacy of the 45th president of the United States, undoubtedly our worst.”

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, in a piece done right after Election Day 2016, wrote: “The election of Donald Trump…is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism.” There would be “miseries to come.” He warned against an “attempt to normalize” the election of Mr. Trump, “a flim-flam man” with “disdain for democratic norms.” 

Articles I’ve written in this period include “On Trump the Con Man” and “Trump’s Offshore Drilling Plan” on CounterPunch, and TV programs I’ve done include “The Trump Nuclear Push” and “Trump’s Space Force” (www.envirovideo.com

CNN anchor Don Lemon of Sag Harbor said after the insurrection at the Capitol ended: “We have never seen a day like today.” He called Mr. Trump “the worst of the worst” of U.S. presidents. Another Sag Harbor resident, Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, said Mr. Trump “will be in our history books as a dark, dark stain unlike any president of the United States.”

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