(WWLP) – Congress’s effort to count the Electoral College votes was thrown into chaos and violence Wednesday after pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol.
A lot of people are waking up Thursday morning wondering how something like this could happen.
22News Anchor Taylor Knight sat down with Political Consultant Tony Cignoli.
Tony, when you first heard or saw this news yesterday, what was your first reaction?
Tony: “Shock, that this could happen in the United States of America. Probably similar to what anyone else watching would have thought. The nation’s capital, one of the places we would assume to be one of the most secure in the world. Stunning to see that this could actually happen, that it was allowed to happen. Absolute shock.”
What would it take to get into the captiol and get that many people in there?
Tony: “Absolutely shocking. I mean this was “let them in,” was almost the thought process that we’re hearing now. That’s a very secure area normally Taylor, very much so. I mean I’ve walked through there and I’ve been afraid to J walk thinking I’m gonna get arrested. You assume that there are cameras everywhere, and there are and that there’s a massive security force and there is. There are 2,000 members of the capitol police, where the heck were they yesterday? That area is normally very secure as you saw yesterday. Folks had to climb and scale the exterior to get to the balcony that they got to and to get in from there, it’s shocking. And initially, as we now know, there was just one capitol officer at that area.”
Tell me what lawmakers were doing yesterday.
Tony: “It was the Electoral College process, time-honored since day one of the United States of America. Normally a perfunctory performance, a perfunctory function of our government, of our republic, and our of democracy. This normally goes very peacefully. It’s over and done with and in and out you go. Certainly, as we all knew there were republican senators that were going to contest votes in certain states. As we know at the time that this happened, members were leaving to go and contest the vote of Arizona but they were still in the building. They were all there, every one of them in a harm’s way situation.”
People are referring to this as an insurrection and that the President is trying to incite a coup, what do you think about this?
Tony: “Whether you like Donald Trump or don’t, whether you like what he stands for or don’t, there’s no other way to frame this. Every major medial outlet on the planet not just in the United States. From Venezuela to Turkey to London this morning is calling this an insurrection or the President of the United States inciting a riot. If you look at his Facebook if you look at his tweets over the last two weeks he said “come,” he said “join me here,” he said, “help me and I love you, please come.” There’s no way around it, even if you’re a supporter of Donald Trump you have to sit back and say, you’ve got to be kidding me.”
What could happen next with President Trump, the 25th amendment, is this an impeachable offense, what could happen with him?
Tony: “The 25th amendment is there exactly for a situation like this, when a President of the United States may be unstable, may show character or may show actions that would be significantly detrimental to the United States, that’s what it’s there for. It requires, however, the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, to go to the members of the cabinet and say he’s off, somethings wrong, he’s over the top, we’ve got to take a look at removal now on grounds. Some might say, do you do that with just 13 days left? Maybe you do. This is the President of the United States, this is the Commander in Chief, he’s got the nuclear arsenal literally at his fingertips.”
What is the likelyhood that Pence would do this?
Tony: “Intriguing. I mean if he wants this moment in history, politically. I mean this shouldn’t be about politics this should be much bigger than that. If he wants to do the right thing in a good government sense, he’s got to at least I think consider it. He’s got to have a conversation with some cabinet members who might not just be political lackeys. Take a look at the cabinet, so many of them are interim players right now they’re not full to their replacements etcetera. But if he’s listening to history, if he’s listening to major folks in law enforcement and historical parliamentarians in the congress, the United States Constitution, he’s got to probably actually consider this.”
Has something like this happened in the United States history?
Tony: “Think of where we are right now, historic Springfield Court Square. Not far from here, the insurrection, the Shays Rebellion, the attempt by Daniel Shays to march uphill and take George Washington’s armory, it happened right here. Another piece of older news would be 1954 where four Puerto Rican nationalists were able to get into the house chamber the same chamber we saw yesterday on television. Get into what was called the women’s gallery and opened fire with semiautomatic pistols, they shot fie members of congress, one grievously so. All survived but all four of those folks were sentenced to life in prison. Their sentences were commonly commuted by President Carter in 1978 and again in 1979. That was the last time that there was ever a breach of this nature and in that case, no one knew they were coming. Yesterday, everyone knew they were coming. This wasn’t Martha and George showing up from you know Macon County or coming on in from Montana to protest government or have their voices heard peacefully.”
Will these people who stormed the capitol be punished by law enforcement?
Tony: “Every single one of them should be prosecuted for a variety of things. You saw some of the folks taking parts of the Capitol out the door with them. So this certainly is trespassing, certainly is endangerment. This was putting the lives of members of Congress in danger. Folks were showing up in body armor, it’s clear what their intent was. This is sedition frankly, its insurrection. There are significant federal laws that were broken here. So hopefully the Department of Justice takes a look at the video and look at all these photos, you can see who these people are. The evidence is there, it’s easy enough to find them, catch them, and most definitely, they have got to be prosecuted.”
What happens after this, what is next?
Tony: “If you’re a member of Congress today you have to think about Republican or Democrat. The United States Capitol was breached by insurrectionists. These weren’t protestors these were terrorists. This wasn’t ISIS or Hamas that got in yesterday. We have got to take a look at this and say how did this happen? Is it possible that there were members of the Capitol Police or the Metropolitan Police, others who allowed for this to happen? How could this even be conceivable? Someone’s got to answer this.”