The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to impeach President Trump for an unprecedented second time. Every member of the Massachusetts delegation voted in favor of impeachment, just a week after a mob of pro-Trump extremists sacked the U.S Capitol following a rally attended by the as-of-now President.
WBUR spoke with several members of Congress over the last week to get their thoughts about the attack on the Capitol and the new effort to remove Trump from power, and potentially bar him from ever holding federal office again.
Jan 6.: Seth Moulton
Speaking to WBUR's All Things Considered host Lisa Mullins by phone while he was still in lockdown, Rep. Seth Moulton called the assault "a direct attack from within."
"This is the kind of violence, this is the kind of terrorism that I expected to see in Iraq as a United States Marine, not here in Washington, D.C., not an attempted coup on our own country. That's what's going on right now in the U.S. Capitol.
"The situation is very dangerous because what few Capitol police are available have to be concentrated on the places where protesters have already breached the building. And so the potential for this to get further out of hand is very real."
Jan. 7: Jake Auchincloss
By the next morning, new Rep. Jake Auchincloss and hundreds of other elected officials were calling for Trump's comments in the months leading up to the insurrection an incitement to violence. He told WBUR's Morning Edition host Bob Oakes that Trump should be removed from power either through a second impeachment or removal under provisions in the 25th Amendment.
"He's culpable, and now is a time for moral leadership in this country. President-elect Biden yesterday in his short speech demonstrated more moral leadership in those few minutes than President Trump has in four years.
"It is surreal to be walking through the Capitol grounds and have it feel like a patrol base. I mean, there were hundreds of officers ... camped out. And the fact that we've had to turn our citadel of democracy into a fortress tells you where we are right now."
Jan 12: Jim McGovern
Rep. Jim McGovern, after facing rioters who had breached the Capitol, told Mullins he has a hard time working alongside his Republican colleagues who supported Trump's claim of a stolen election.
"Let me be blunt. I mean, I was in the [Speaker's chair, asked to sit in for the evacuated Speaker Nancy Pelosi] when this mob came into the Capitol. And when I left the chamber and was in the Speaker's lobby, I saw this angry, vicious mob breaking down the glass door in the Speaker's lobby. I looked into their eyes, and I knew that they were there to destroy things and to do harm; and so I will never forget that. And so when I see some of my colleagues who, you know, agitated this reaction, I'll be very honest with you, I was pissed. I still am, because it is unforgivable what they did. And five people are dead. I mean, more could have been killed if it wasn't for the reaction of some brave Capitol Police officers who got us all to safety. So, you know, when I see [those Republican colleagues] right now, I'm angry, because this never should have happened.
Jan 13: Katherine Clark
Rep. Katherine Clark told Oakes that she would vote to impeach because inaction in the face of sedition "is indefensible."
"Donald Trump is unstable. He is unhinged and he is dangerous. And one week ago today, he incited a seditious mob to attack our country. Every day that he remains in office is a danger to our security and to our democracy. That is why we’re moving with urgency to remove him from office.
"I’m never going to forget walking down Independence Avenue on Wednesday, seeing the confederate flags, the Trump flags, and the roar of that crowd on the steps of the Capitol. It was a sight that I never thought I would see … in our own center of government. I believe that my colleagues, even some across the aisle, understand the level of treason, of sedition, that has occurred here. And that this won’t necessarily end with this presidency. He has sown the seeds, and we need to stand up [and] defend our democracy. And advocating for inaction is indefensible."
Jan. 13: Lori Trahan
Also speaking ahead of the historic vote, Rep. Lori Trahan told Mullins that Congress has an obligation to impeach President Trump.
"This president has abused his power as the leader of our country to spread dangerous lies about the results of the 2020 election, and he repeatedly used rhetoric that was designed to divide the American people and rile up his base. And the consequences of those actions proved fatal when he instructed thousands of his supporters to go to the Capitol and fight like hell for him... He has to be brought to justice. And it's so important that the Senate commence with a trial and a vote to ensure that he never spends another second as President of the United States again ... The country so badly wants to heal, and the only path to healing is through justice."
Jan. 14: Ed Markey
A day after the House voted to impeach President Trump, Sen. Ed Markey told Oakes that he thinks it may be possible that the Senate secures the minimum 17 Republican votes needed to convict the president.
"He was engaging in incendiary rhetoric and encouraging — by the way, not alone, but with the other speakers, Rudy Giuliani, his family members as well — engaging in incendiary rhetorical language ... and then intentionally saying that they should now go up to the Capitol, and that he would go with them, by the way. So the intent that he had was clearly to incite this mob, this riot, this attack on the Capitol. And free speech does not protect anyone, including the president of the United States, from being accountable for that kind of language."
Jan. 14: Seth Moulton
A week after the attack, and a day after the vote to impeach, Moulton spoke with WBUR's Tiziana Dearing on Radio Boston, explaining why pursuing impeachment matters, even if Trump will already be out of power.
"It's very clear that people were targeted. There's evidence of that just in some of the videos that have emerged, but we also know it from some of the intelligence reports and briefings that we've received, not only looking backwards on the riot, but looking forward towards the inauguration. So all of this needs to be investigated thoroughly.
"I mean, imagine for a second if after the Boston Marathon bombing, there was a whole contingent of Americans who had just said, 'Wait, wait, wait, now is not a time to prosecute. Now's not a time for accountability. We just need to heal.' No. We need to hold lawbreakers accountable. We need to hold the President of the United States accountable for something that no other president has done in American history. Even despite terrible, racist, awful presidents we've had, no president has actually organized a mob against our democracy, attacked democracy itself, the foundations of our government.
"A lot of presidents have disagreed with Congress. That happens every day and we kind of thing. But never has a president said, 'Go attack Congress.' "
These interviews aired on WBUR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Radio Boston.
This article was originally published on January 13, 2021.