U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Trump and his enablers are “fanning the flames, encouraging the violent overthrow of the government.”
Wasserman Schultz: Trump is ‘encouraging the violent overthrow of the government.’ Some Florida lawmakers want him removed.
By ANTHONY MAN
South Florida’s Democratic members of Congress, long critical of President Donald Trump, said he was responsible for encouraging the violent protests that engulfed the Capitol two weeks before he leaves office and Joe Biden is inaugurated as president.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Trump and his enablers are “fanning the flames, encouraging the violent overthrow of the government.” U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch suggested Trump should be removed from office via the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. And U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel said the “tragic and un-American attack on democracy” was caused by Trump.
Florida lawmakers who are Trump supporters focused their attention on lamenting what happened and on calls for calm and restoring order. Most expressed support for the police.
Wasserman Schultz, a Broward/Miami-Dade county Democrat, made her comments in a phone interview from an undisclosed location in Washington. Earlier, members of Congress were evacuated from the House and Senate chamber where they were considering Republican challenges to Biden’s election victory.
What happened in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, she said, was reminiscent of what she’s been speaking out against for years — perpetrated by “little dictators from other countries, and the United States has always stood as a haven for democracy and peace and been an example of how to protest the actions of our government.”
“Now Donald Trump is fomenting and encouraging actions that we opposed in countries all around the world,” she said.
Deutch, a Broward/Palm Beach county Democrat, said on Twitter that “Everyone keeps saying, ‘There are only 14 days until Trump leaves office. He told us he wouldn’t commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Today confirms that he meant it. Think about what he could do over the next 14 days. Trump must shut this down or be removed from office.”
“This is a violent insurrection. An attempted coup by Trump supporters at his encouragement. They’re attacking the building that represents our democracy and threatening those who work in it. History will remember this dark day as a seditious attack by Americans against America,” Deutch said.
Wednesday evening, Deutch suggested that Vice President Mike Pence consider using the constitutional procedure to remove Trump from office. “The 25th Amendment, @VP Pence. The 25th Amendment.”
So did U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, another Broward/Palm Beach County Democrat, who tweeted that “The 25th Amendment allows for the removal of a President. @realDonaldTrump must be removed from office immediately!”
Earlier, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, was more direct, also pointing to the 25th amendment which outlines how to remove a president. “It’s time to remove the President,” Crist tweeted. In a separate statement, Crist said he was “shocked at the heartbreaking, anti-American events we have witnessed” at the Capitol, Peaceful protest is protected by the Constitution, Crist said. “but this is not peace, it’s insurrection.”
Lois Frankel, a Palm Beach County Democrat, said what happened in Washington “is not who we are as a nation. What happened at the U.S. Capitol today was a tragic and un-American attack on our democracy, and a direct consequence of a president who has encouraged violence and undermined our election system by lying to the American public.”
Wasserman Schultz said by phone that the situation at the U.S. Capitol was chaotic and dangerous for much of the day.
“We’re immobilized, and there is chaos surrounding the entire Capitol complex. We’ve had intensified protests outside our offices, not remotely of the normal kind, but violent protests, police swirling all around,” she said in the afternoon. She said there were “devices” found in the area and that “bomb-containment devices” were used in the vicinity of the Capitol.
“We’ve had a lot of confusing information regarding evacuations, regarding remaining in place, lockdowns, then the House chamber being breached, shots being fired, windows in the Capitol being broken, people invading offices in the Capitol,” she said.
A day earlier, Wasserman Schultz had warned about he potential for violence — and condemned a colleague she said was encouraging it.
On Tuesday, she introduced a resolution calling for the House to censure U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas. Last week he said violence might be the only way for supporters of President Donald Trump to get what they want since Trump lost the election.
Wassesrman Schultz said Gohmert’s language was dangerous.
With protesters invading the Capitol building and disrupting the House and Senate proceedings involving Biden’s Electoral College victory, Wasserman Schultz lamented that what she predicted has, in fact, happened.
She also blamed Trump, who, at a Wednesday speech before a joint session of Congress, encouraged his protesters to move en masse to Capitol Hill.
“This is the violence and chaos you asked for @replouiegohmert. You, @realDonaldTrump and the other GOPers who poured gas-soaked lies on our democracy have put lives at risk,” Wasserman Schultz tweeted just before 3 p.m.
U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat and former Orlando police chief, responded to Trump on Twitter: “You caused this.”
In another post, Demings condemned what was taking place, but said the democratic system of government would prevail. “A mob storming the U.S. Capitol to overturn an election. A coup in progress. A dark day for America. But this is what they always wanted. Don’t let them deny it. They will lose. We will not be intimidated. Democracy will win.”
U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, a Miami-Dade Republican sworn into his first term Sunday, said on Twitter that, “This lawlessness is abhorrent and disgusting. This is not who we are as a nation and does not represent our values. All engaging in violence must be apprehended and punished. I pray for the safety of our Capitol Police who are working tirelessly to ensure everyone is kept safe.”
Gimenez, who was elected with support from Trump, added in a subsequent tweet that the president needed to do more. “Mr. President @realDonaldTrump please take a firm stance and help us restore order in the Capitol. This is unacceptable and dangerous. Capitol Police needs additional officers and resources now. We need you to urgently call on these protestors to disperse.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said on Twitter that Trump needed to act to restore order. “Mr. President @realDonaldTrump the men & women of law enforcement are under assault. It is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down,” he wrote on Twitter.
He also said, “There is nothing patriotic about what is occurring on Capitol Hill. This is 3rd world style anti-American anarchy.”
Rubio has spent much of the past four years publicly supporting the president and avoiding criticism. He hasn’t said how he’d vote on the challenges to Electoral College votes which were interrupted Tuesday by the protesters supporting Trump.
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., also a strong Trump supporter, said on Twitter that “Everyone has a right to peacefully protest. No one has a right to commit violence. What happened today at the Capitol is disgraceful and un-American. It is not what our country stands for,” he said, later adding that “the thugs who stormed the Capitol today and incited violence should be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Every single one of them. Thank you to the Capitol Police for your bravery today.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a former Republican congressman and close ally of Trump, was among the political leaders who condemned the violence and praised the police. “Violence or rioting of any kind is unacceptable and the perpetrators must face the full weight of the law. The Capitol Police do an admirable job and I thank them for their hard work,” he said in a statement from his office.
Long after the disruption started, Trump finally tweeted a message asking his supporters to “remain peaceful.” Despite the violence shown by the protesters he earlier encouraged, Trump said “No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
Other South Florida lawmakers, including those who supported Trump and his move to overturn the election results, tweeted condemnation of the violent protests and their support for the police.
“We must protect and revere law our enforcement officers who put their lives on the line each day for our safety. While peaceful protests are an integral part of our democracy, lawlessness and violence are NOT acceptable,” said U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami-Dade County Republican.
U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Republican who represents northern Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties, said on Twitter that “attacking our Capitol and the selfless law enforcement officers defending it is as unpatriotic and appalling as it gets. The people who are doing that must stop so we can return to our democratic process!”
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, a former member of the Florida state Senate, said the day’s events were predictable. “This is where a steady supply of disinformation and incitement leads. No one should be surprised that Dr. Frankenstein’s creation has run amok.”
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