As the Capitol Hill is defiled by Donald Trump’s supporters, the whole world, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemn the rioting; Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Ami Bera seek action; and Nikki Haley distances herself from her former boss
It was a scene straight out of a disaster movie. On Wednesday, as a mob comprising US President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the Capitol and a woman was shot dead inside the building when a protest spiraled out of control. It interrupted Congress’s count of electoral votes to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
By the end of the day, four persons and a Capitol police chief were killed after several protesters broke into the Capitol building on Wednesday and roamed the corridors as tens of thousands gathered outside in support of Trump’s claims of election fraud.
It turned out to be a scene from a horror movie as the citadel of American democracy was run over by a crowd. The rioting took place after Trump told protestors to repeat his false claim that he won the US election in November.
And the world watched in horror.
Several leaders held the US President personally responsible for the upset and its resolution. Following other leaders around the world who reacted with concern online, describing the chaotic scenes as ‘shocking’ and ‘disgraceful’, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet, “Distressed to see news about rioting and violence in Washington DC. Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue. The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests.”
Even as Modi condemned the violence in the US, some raised the point if it was too little and too late. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Thursday lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for expressing concern over the Capitol Hill violence, saying it is a ‘good sign’ that Centre has distanced itself from the Donald Trump administration, adding that New Delhi will have to work with the new Biden administration to “strengthen democracy around the world”.
“I don’t believe it should have any implication for our bilateral relations with the US but it’s a sobering reminder. Prime Minister expressing concern was a good sign, it showed that he and government are distancing themselves from those who believe ‘iss baar bhi Trump sarkar’,” Shashi Tharoor told ANI. As US Congress formally certified Joe Biden as the next US president on Thursday, Congress MP added that “I think Delhi will have to work with the new Biden administration as it heals its own country and works with other democracies to strengthen democracy around the world, including in the USA.”
Taking a shot at the experts who speak with “smugness” about the US being the oldest democracy, Tharoor said, “To my mind its quite startling to release, how must democracy depends on the good faith of its custodians. How democratic institutions appear to be very fragile even in societies that are called mature democracies.”
Over the report that the Indian flag was waived during the Capitol Hill violence, Tharoor said, “The shocking picture of somebody holding the Indian tricolor among the capital demonstrators in Washington. …This is unfortunate that people are willing to wave the flag as an instrument or as a weapon rather than a batch of pride.”
In a related development, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale also condemned the violence at the US Capitol and said he will speak to American President Donald Trump over the phone. “It is not only an insult to the Republican Party but also to America and democracy. That is why we are expressing our displeasure. I will try to speak to him (Donald Trump) over the phone,” the Republican Party of India (A), president said.
The violence at Capitol Hill will have major repercussions.
Already, calls are growing for Trump to resign or be removed from office. Trump is losing support from his inner circle, with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao both resigning before the end of Trump’s term.
But most lawmakers want some serious action. These efforts are being led by some Indian-American lawmakers. Pramila Jayapal, the first Washington representative to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, called on Thursday night for him to be removed from office using the 25th Amendment. The 25th Amendment allows the vice president, with the support of a majority of the Cabinet, to remove the president from office.
“Donald Trump must be removed immediately,” Jayapal, D-Seattle, wrote. “I’m calling on Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to put this country first and uphold their constitutional duty to invoke the 25th Amendment. We must hold the man who incited today’s dangerous assault on America fully accountable.”
Democratic Congressmember Ro Khanna said Republicans must support efforts to remove Trump, especially as much of Trump’s incitement targeted Republican lawmakers who refused to back his false claims of election fraud. “This was not an attack just on Democratic lawmakers. If anything, it was an incitement of violence against Republican lawmakers,” says Khanna.
Speaking to Democracy Now, Khanna described the horror show in his words. “I was in my office in the Cannon Building, and then we heard that there was an evacuation because there was apparently a pipe bomb nearby. So, I left my office, and I started to head towards the Capitol. Fortunately, I got frantic texts from people saying, “Don’t go into the Capitol. It is being overrun.” At that point, some of us turned back. We were told that the Cannon Building was clear, but we didn’t know, but that it was our best course, so I went to my office, locked the doors of the office and stayed in the office the rest of the day.”
Khanna has strongly asked Republicans to support Trump’s impeachment. “If you listen to the president’s incitement of violence and Rudy Giuliani’s incitement of violence, the target was actually Republican lawmakers. Donald Trump Jr. is saying, “Go show the Republicans they need to be on our side, and we’re going to have a trial by combat.” So, this was not an attack just on Democratic lawmakers. If anything, it was an incitement of violence against Republican lawmakers,” he said.
The calls for action against President Donald Trump following the violence in Washington, D.C. have been growing louder. Congressman Ami Bera, Representative for California’s 7th District, who was there when the violence erupted at the Capitol, said: “It’s still hard to believe a little over 24 hours later, when you kind of reflect back over what happened [Wednesday], that happened here in the United States of America, in our nation’s Capital, at the symbol of our democracy, the United States Capitol Building.”
He laid the blame at the feet of Trump. “You don’t use a term like sedition lightly, but what the president did was he incited the mob,” Bera said. “He directed them to march down to the Capitol and we saw what happened at the United States Capitol. So, for the President to say he doesn’t bear any responsibility, the responsibility goes directly back to the President of the United States.”
Bera said lawmakers have to be very careful with Trump’s actions leading up to the inauguration. “Many of us feel, based on the actions of yesterday, the President is unfit to serve,” Bera said. “He can’t keep our nation safe right now. We should invoke the 25th amendment.”
It is not just the Democrats who are upset with Trump. Even some Republicans are showing huge disappointment with the President. Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, an Indian American, distanced herself from Donald Trump, in a closed-door speech on Thursday night, telling members of the Republican National Committee that the President’s actions after the election “will be judged harshly by history.”
“President Trump has not always chosen the right words,” Haley said. “He was badly wrong with his words yesterday. And it wasn’t just his words. His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”
The remarks came during the second day of the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting, which was closed to the press, and just one day after a mob of Trump supporters — incited by the President — stormed the Capitol.
Haley, since leaving the Trump administration in 2018, has at times criticized his rhetoric while backing up much of his policy focus. The former South Carolina governor is one of many top Republicans seen as likely presidential candidates in 2024.
The race for 2024 seems to be already on. Donald Trump will need a lot of luck to be in that race.