U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, spoke with the Citizen about his experience of being inside the U.S. Capitol complex on Jan. 6 when a mob stormed into the building following a rally to support President Donald Trump.
In what President-elect Joe Biden later called an “insurrection,” rioters occupied parts of the Capitol building for several hours in a protest challenging Biden’s Electoral College victory.
As part of the breach, they bypassed security and occupied the Senate chamber, and Capitol guards drew handguns to protect the House floor.
Shortly after the mob entered the Capitol, Bera posted a message on Twitter.
“My staff and I are safe,” he wrote. “The storming of the U.S. Capitol is dangerous and disgusting and needs to stop, immediately.”
Bera told the Citizen the next day that he was evacuated from his office within the Capitol complex before the rioters entered the Capitol.
“Even before the breach, I was in my office and they had us evacuated because of the rumors of a pipe bomb at the Republican National Committee offices, which (are) close to my office building,” he said.
“You knew something was happening, (because) they had us evacuate out of our offices. But then they let us back in and then things just unfolded fairly quickly.”
Bera stated through Twitter that these acts were intended to halt the democratic process.
“Let us be clear: Our democracy will not be subverted by a mob, nor by a president,” he wrote. “Congress will fulfill its constitutional duty and certify the results of the election. Democracy will prevail.”
Bera told the Citizen that the rioting at the Capitol was incited by the president.
“(Trump) directly incited this riot and this anarchy,” he said. “It’s a mixture of sadness, but this is a sad day for American democracy (on Jan. 6), but also a level of anger that this is a president of the United States who has such disregard for American democracy. He’s only thinking about himself and there was such a lack of leadership that I find.”
In a Jan. 7 video speech to the nation, Trump condemned the breach of security at the Capitol.
“The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy,” he said. “To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country, and to those who broke the law, you will pay.”
Trump added that his campaign’s pursuit of contesting the election results had only one goal: “To ensure the integrity of the vote.”
He said, “in so doing, I was fighting to defend American democracy.”
Trump was supported in his challenge of the electoral votes by more than 100 Republican representatives, including seven from California.
During the rioting at the Capitol, a woman was shot by security and later died, and three other protesters died of medical emergencies on the Capitol grounds. A U.S. Capitol police officer, identified as Brian Sicknick, succumbed to his injuries on Jan. 7.
Doors and windows at the Capitol were broken, chemical irritants were emitted by protesters on Capitol police, and pipe bombs were discovered near the Republican National Committee offices and the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Multiple officers were wounded during the breach.
The interruption forced lawmakers to delay their proceedings to count the Electoral College votes and certify Biden’s victory in November’s presidential election. Senate and House representatives certified Biden’s presidential election victory during the early morning of Jan. 7.
A day after the attack on the Capitol, Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, called for Trump to be removed from office, saying that he invoked the 25th Amendment, and Vice President Mike Pence should assume the office of president until the end of Trump’s term on Jan. 20.
“The president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America,” Pelosi said at a Jan. 7 news conference. “In calling for this seditious act, the president has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people.”
Bera later issued his own statement that Trump should not be permitted to complete his term.
“After reflecting on yesterday’s events, it’s clear that President Trump is not capable of leading our country over the next 13 days,” he wrote on Twitter. “For the safety of our democracy, Vice President Pence must assume the duties of the presidency. I urge the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment.”
Bera further spoke about that sentiment with the Citizen.
“(Trump) can do a lot of damage in 13 days,” he said. “We need to hold him accountable. I disagree with Vice President Pence on most policy items, but what I found by President Pence, at least (on Jan. 6), is someone who understood his job is to uphold the Constitution of the United States.
“He did his job. He was the one who got the National Guard to come in. I have no faith in President Trump.”
Another local congressman, John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, also called for Trump’s removal from office, and referred to the breach at the Capitol as a “direct result of what Donald Trump wanted to happen.”
Responding to the breach of security at the Capitol by supporters of Trump, House Democrats on Dec. 8 laid out impeachment plans for the president in his final days in office. They seek to impeach him as early as next week.
Bera stressed that he firmly supports the constitutional right for peaceful assemblies and peaceful protests.
“That’s not what we saw (on Jan. 6),” he said. “What we saw was anarchy and rioting.
“What we saw (on that day) was an embarrassment for the United States. The rest of the world was watching, and we should be the beacon of democracy.
“I am hopeful that this is enough of a shock to my colleagues – they, my friends who are Republican members of Congress – that we can decide now is the time for us to start working together. The Biden administration has certainly said that they are looking to heal this country. Let’s take them at their word.”
EG Planning Commission Vice Chair comments on Capitol riot
During the latter portion of the Elk Grove Planning Commission’s Jan. 7 meeting, a few commissioners shared their views on the riot.
Vice Chair George Murphey commented on the rioting at the Capitol.
“You know, they said our democracy was tested and it truly was, and that’s one test that we do not want to fail,” Murphey said. “So, let’s be better to each other, let’s be better to the community, let’s work together to make this a better community, make it a better society, and make it a much, much better new year for all of us.”