CAPITAL REGION — Calls grew Thursday from local congressional representatives for President Donald Trump to be removed from office following Wednesday’s attack by his extremist supporters on the U.S. Capitol, which they accuse him of encouraging.
20th District Representative Paul D. Tonko, was among the first among a growing list of Democrats to say Trump needs to be removed from office immediately, issuing a statement late Wednesday night.
“For the safety of our people, republic, our laws and our Constitution, Congress must adopt articles of impeachment and remove Donald Trump from office immediately,” Tonko said.
On Thursday afternoon, 19th Congressional District Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, added his voice, as well.
“The President’s actions and words during a moment of great peril for our democracy make it plain that he is unfit for the Office of the President,” said Delgado, who was narrowly re-elected in November. “I took an oath to protect our democracy against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And with a heavy heart, I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to protect our democracy, President Trump must be removed from office by his own cabinet or this Congress.”
The Capital Region’s third representative, however, continued her objections to accepting election results from some of the states that President-elect Joe Biden won.
In a series of votes that lasted into early Thursday morning, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, voted to object to Biden’s wins in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Echoing Trump’s rhetoric without directly without repeating his charges of fraud — as Trump has repeatedly and without evidence — the 21st Congressional District representative said she voted against accepting the results from those states “due to unprecedented voting irregularities, unconstitutional overreach by unelected state officials and judges ignoring state election laws, and a fundamental lack of ballot integrity and security.”
While results varied for each roll call vote, more than 100 members of the House of Representatives — all Republicans — voted against accepting the election results from those states.
In her speech on the floor of the House, Stefanik criticized the attackers while not mentioning the president’s role, and has given no indication she doesn’t continue to support Trump, whose term ends on Jan. 20.
“This has been a truly tragic day for America,” Stefanik said soon after the House session resumed at 9 p.m. Wednesday. “And we all join together in fully condemning the dangerous violence and destruction that occurred today in our Nation’s Capitol.”
She went on to fault the election protocols in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, all of which made changes to election procedures last year to make it easier for people to vote by mail due to the pandemic and safety concerns about voting in person. Trump has repeatedly claimed that would lead to fraud against him.
“Tens of millions of Americans are concerned that the 2020 election featured unconstitutional overreach by unelected state officials and judges ignoring state election laws,” Stefanik said, implicitly criticizing the dozens of judges in multiple states who rejected lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign.
Trump has had strong support in Stefanik’s rural North Country congressional district, and she has been among the president’s most-loyal defenders since the House Intelligence Committee hearings on his impeachment in 2019.
On Thursday, protesters critical of Stefanik held noontime silent vigils outside her district offices in Glens Falls, Plattsburgh and Watertown, and at other locations across the sprawling congressional district.
There was also a vigil in downtown Saratoga Springs Thursday evening by peace activists, calling for Trump’s immediate removal.
Separately, Tonko on Thursday also condemned the Republicans who continued to support Trump’s election claims, without naming any legislators specifically.
“Many of my Republican colleagues shamefully chose to continue this president’s campaign to divide our nation and refuse the will of the people,” Tonko said. “We were forced to listen as they continued to parrot his baseless allegations, to seek personal glory at the expense of our nation, to sow doubt and confusion about our election, and to continue to undermine the next president before he has even taken office. Make no mistake, the attack on our Capitol was driven by these very same discredited claims.”
Meanwhile, New York’s U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer called for Trump to be removed from office for inciting his supporters. Schumer, who appears in line to become the Senate’s new majority leader after Democratic victories in the Georgia Senate elections, called for immediate action either under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment or through impeachment.
“The quickest and most effective way — it can be done today — to remove this president from office would be for the Vice President to immediately invoke the 25th amendment,” Schumer said in a statement on Thursday. “If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”
The state’s other U.S. senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, said there needs to be accountability for both those who attacked and the president.
“In the days ahead our duty will require us to push for accountability — for every rioter who desecrated the capitol, for the president who incited them,” she said during a conference call. “Every option available — from invoking the 25th Amendment to impeachment and removal to criminal prosecution — should be on the table.”
“These options will require the vice president, cabinet members, and Republican members of the Senate to hold the president accountable in a way they never have before,” Gillibrand continued. “If they fail to do so, history will rightfully judge them as complicit.”
The election objections split the six Republicans in the New York congressional delegation, with Stefanik, Lee Zeldin of Long Island and Chris Jacobs of Erie County generally voted in favor of the objections, while Andrew Garobarino of Long Island, John Katko of Syracuse and Tom Reed of Corning voted against them.
Thursday evening, a petition on Change.org calling for Stefanik’s resignation had accumulated over 4,000 signatures.