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Washington Review, January 8, 2021

Jan 8, 2021
Washington Review

This week, the nation watched in horror as a crowd of rioters stormed the Capitol building while Congress was convened to certify the results of the November 2020 election. This despicable act will go down as one of the darkest days in American history and is a stark warning to our nation that we must not focus on our divisions, but rather what unites us as Americans. I sincerely appreciate all those who reached out to me and expressed their well wishes during this distressing time, my staff and I are safe and unharmed following these tragic events. I would also like to thank the brave men and women of law enforcement who helped secure the Capitol and protect myself and other members of Congress from what was an extremely dangerous situation. On the day of the attack and the days following, I signed onto legislation aimed at addressing the crisis, such as a resolution to bring forward articles of impeachment, a letter to open an investigation into security breaches, a letter stating my intent for Congress to reconvene as soon as possible, and a letter to Congressional leadership urging the removal of the President.

Storming of the Capitol

On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, a mob of rioters breached security and stormed the United States Capitol after incitement by the President. At the Capitol, a joint session of Congress was convened to fulfill constitutional responsibility of certifying the results of the presidential election. It is appalling that the President and certain members of Congress incited this mob by continuously pushing a narrative that the 2020 presidential election was marred by fraud and deceit. Time and time again, by sources within the Administration and by nonpartisan third parties, this conspiracy theory has been proven false. It is a fact that votes lawfully cast in the November election were dutifully counted by our hard-working election workers and the results of that election reflect a fair and free will of the American people. Nonetheless, on Wednesday, supporters of the President turned their anger into violence and stormed the sacred halls of our democracy – the first time the Capitol has been breached since it was burned down by British soldiers in 1814 during the War of 1812. This historic, infamous, and shameful day will echo through the annals of history and forever serve as an example of the dangers our country will face should we continue to foment violence, spread lies for partisan political gain, and sow unnecessary divisions. As someone who  fled from Cuba with their family to escape political violence, I find it repulsive that senior members of the United States Government would partake in activities which eventually led to the destruction of property, erosion of our sacred democratic institutions, and most importantly, the unfortunate and irreversible loss of human life. Although the tragic events of this week will always weigh heavily on my mind, I am confident that our democracy and the institutions which make up the very foundation of our great nation are resilient enough to push through this dark chapter of our history. The United States is supposed to be a beacon of freedom and democracy, we will not let mob violence, or any type insurrectionist conspiracy, push aside our democratic norms and fray the seams of our political structure. Just as my colleagues and I returned to the House floor to finish our business and certify the results of the November election following this violence, our great institutions will continue to uphold the ideals of justice and liberty for all Americans. We are stronger together, and together we will get through this horrific moment and ensure that American democracy is supported as we rebuild trust in our processes and strive for unity.

Legislation

Due to the gravity of the President’s actions prior to, during, and after the events of January 6th, I signed onto a resolution introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) to bring forward Articles of Impeachment against the President. These Articles of Impeachment propose that the President violated his oath of office and engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States. His words and actions sought to direct the mob of rioters towards the Capitol in pursuit of destruction and intimidation. America has a long tradition of free and fair elections and a peaceful transition of power which had been preserved for over 200 years until this fateful day. Similarly, one of the prides of American democracy is our constitutionally obliged separation of powers which created three equal branches of government. Undoubtedly, the unprecedented events that unfolded on Wednesday were the clearest example in American history of an attack by the Executive Branch on the Legislative Branch. My colleagues and I in the legislature are prepared to use the Constitutional authority afforded to us to because it is clear the President is unfit for office.

Letters

I joined my colleagues from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), in a letter to Speaker Pelosi calling for the immediate removal from office of the President and outlining how his behavior has emboldened demagogues around the world. The letter expresses support for invoking the 25th Amendment, a method which would allow for the removal of the President by the Vice President and other cabinet members. However, the letter also stresses that if the 25th Amendment fails to be invoked in a timely manner that the House should use the tools which are constitutionally offered, impeachment, to remove the President from his office. After the President’s words and actions led to a violent insurrection on Wednesday, my colleagues and I must uphold our oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.

Yesterday, I also signed on to a letter led by Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) to Democratic leadership asking them to reconvene the House immediately to address the events on January 6th. The letter calls for the House to consider pending measures including the establishment of a Select Committee on Violent Domestic Extremism, which would address the broader implications of the threats domestic extremism has on our democratic system. We could also again pass anti-terrorism legislation focused on white nationalism that languished in the Senate after the House passed it in the 116th Congress, for example, H.R. 3106, the Domestic and International Terrorism DATA Act; H.R. 4192, the Confronting the Threat of Domestic Terrorism Act; H.R. 5602, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act; and H.R. 3545 the National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act. With an upcoming Democratic Senate majority, this meaningful legislation has a chance to become law under the Biden administration.

I also joined House colleagues in a letter to the Comptroller General urging an immediate investigation over the massive security failures at the Capitol complex. The events on January 6th were publicly planned and endorsed by the President well in advance of the day; we knew a large gathering would take place, and threats were made online up until the day of the event. It was clear certain public officials were stoking outrage and confrontation, especially through speeches made the morning the gathering took place. We called for an investigation to look into several matters, including: The scale and adequacy of security preparations by relevant law enforcement and defense entities, including U.S. Capitol Police, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Department of Defense, and Secret Service, Extent of coordination between federal and local entities for security and emergency support, and many other important questions that will help determine what security measures failed. The safety of Members of Congress, hard-working public servants, and hundreds more employed by the Capitol complex were put at risk and we must have concrete answers on what happened.

COVID-19

With all of the news this week we must not forget that cases of COVID-19 are continuing to rise across the country, and in New Jersey. This week marked one of the worst increases in cases the country has seen to date, it is imperative we remain vigilant and safe. Please continue to wear a mask in public and practice social distancing when possible. Please exercise caution and take necessary measures to ensure the safety of yourself, your family, and our community. Working together, we can help slow the spread of this virus. Additionally, you can now pre-register with the State of New Jersey to determine your eligibility for a vaccine here: https://covidvaccine.nj.gov/

Please know that I will continue working to get the 8th District the resources it needs. If you have questions or need assistance please call my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-7919 and follow instructions to be connected to my staff or send an email to NJ8inquiries@mail.house.gov. Together we can get through this.