Turbulent times in America: the country starts a new chapter

Jake Gay, Reporter

     “Congress shall be in session on the sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the electors” (3 U.S.C § 15).  


  What’s been happening

  Despite an ongoing Senate runoff election to determine the senate majority, on the deadliest day in America since 1900, The 117th United States Congress met to ratify the Electoral college vote.

     In a fitting end to the 2020 election, the results were disputed. A Reuters poll in early December 2020 shows that a staggering 68 percent of Republicans believe that the 2020 election was rigged. Among the 68 percent, is former United States President Donald J. Trump, who, after declaring victory on election night, continuously denied the victory of President Joe Biden. 

     The Donald Trump Presidential Campaign has appeared in front of over 50 judges since the election. Rudy Guliani and the Trump legal team contested the results of Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Michigan. A lawsuit on behalf of the state of Texas that was sent to The Supreme Court, was rejected. The court stated that Texas “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.” 

     With this fatal blow, all attention turned to January 6, where congress would meet to officially elect Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. 


In the courts

     Without the court’s ruling in their favor, the Trump campaign and its supporters turned to congress to object to the electoral college vote by sending it back to the states for reconfirmation. Objecting to the results of an election is constitutional, directly changing the results is unprecedented. 

     Yet, in the weeks prior to the congressional joint session, many believed that GOP Senators and Congressmen could object to the electoral college and possibly overturn the results. These efforts were led by President Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley among others. 


Mike Pence and the vote 

     At rallies for the Georgia Senate runoff election in the early days of the new year, Trump pressured former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the electoral college vote. The constitutionality of a Vice President overturning the vote was heavily debated. North Harford government teacher, Mrs. Jessica Siegel said,“I believe he [Pence] does not have the constitutional ability to object or change the Electoral College vote. Therefore would be outside his powers.” 

     In the early hours of January 6, Vice President Pence posted a Twitter statement concluding that he would not overturn the electoral vote, “it is my considered judgement that my oath to support and defend the constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority.”

     In regards to the likelihood of Congress changing the vote, Republican Congressman John Curtis told C-SPAN2 that “Many were lied to. The initial lie was that we [congress] could overturn the electoral college.”

January 6, 2021

     The tensions of a heated election and unprecedented political turmoil in the country came down to January 6, the date that mandates that congress meet to debate and officially declare Joe Biden as the 46th president, thus beginning the transition process. When asked about her class discussions on the transition of power, Siegel stated, “I do discuss the transfer of power, but only in the general sense. I try to stay within the lines of the Constitution.”

       Nearly two-miles away from this congressional session thousands of Pro-Trump supporters would simultaneously convene near The Ellipse in the “Save America rally.” President Trump would speak after the rally but not before his son and his attorney, Giuliani spoke (there has since been significant denunciation of Giuliani suggesting “trial by combat”).

      There were also some reports and debate on whether the outgoing president could pardon himself. Seigel said, “disagreements between legal scholars to whether or not president’s have the constitutional ability.  If you are a strict constitutionalist…there may be some arguments to be made.” Though there was speculation if he would look into the possibility of being able to issue this pardon to himself, the 45th President elected to leave office without doing so. 

     President Trump spoke for over an hour at the rally, commenting on alleged big-tech corruption, voter fraud, fake news, and the election system. The former President denied the results, pressuring both congress as well as Pence to object to the vote. Near the end of his remarks, Trump stated, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” 

     With the closure of his speech and the end of the rally, thousands of the rally-goers moved down The National Mall to the Capitol. Around the same time, The House of Representatives were hearing objections being raised about the Arizona electoral college vote. 

      Swiftly, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, exited the chamber with security. Minutes later both chambers of congress would go into recess. The recess would be in response to scores of rioters who had gotten past barriers and through security and had now entered the building. 


Rioters breach The Capitol

    With many rioters inside the building and more attempting to get in, members of congress were taken to an undisclosed location dressed in masks due to tear gas being sprayed in the lobby of the Capitol. 

     Around 3 p.m. live on Fox News Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy confirmed that he heard on a police scanner that shots had been fired. By the end of the day dozens would be injured and five would die, including Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick. 

     Sociology teacher Scott Larbalestrier observed, “mass hysteria, panic, and groupthink” on account of the rioters. Larbalestrier also noted that he believed “it was a sad moment in our history, for our democracy is based on free and fair elections along with a peaceful transfer of power.”

     In between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m Washington D.C. mayor Bowser would request more police and military help to manage the riot. Maryland governor Larry Hogan would authorize the national guard of Maryland to move onto Washington to help along with the Governor of Virginia. The preparation and response to the riot is still undergoing investigation. Many have agreed that the preparation was insufficient and lackluster, this has led to the resignation of former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund. 

      During the riot, the senate run-off election results for Georgia would be made official. Jon Ossof and Raphael Warnock had beaten the Republican incumbents; the Democrats would win the majority in the Senate for the first time in over five years. 

     The riot persisted, at 4:20 P.M President Trump would deliver this message on his Twitter account, “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side […] This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil.” 

     Depicted in a widely circulated image since the attack, rioters would breach the Senate Chamber, Nancy Pelosi’s office and many others.  A makeshift gallows would also be erected outside the Capitol. Two “devices” that would later be determined by the FBI as bombs were found outside the DNC and RNC. Larbalestrier noted “The Capitol Building is a symbol of our democracy.”


“Democracy Prevails”

     At 8:00 p.m. The DC police would declare The Capitol secure, after most rioters had left (there has been over 60 arrests since the insurrection and more are being pursuited). 

     Minutes later, congress would fully resume and Vice President Pence would make a statement underlining democracy’s victory over terror. Later into the night congress would officially verify Biden and Harris to become President and Vice- President 

     Since the attack, there has been wide speculation and theories of what took place. Many Republicans senators and congressmen as well as their supporters claim that the rioters were disguised ANTIFA supporters. These claims have been widely discredited by a variety of sources and agencies. Yet still, in a poll of North Harford students and alumni done just ten days after the insurrection, 27 percent (out of 300 polled)  agreed that the rioters were disguised ANTIFA sympathizers. According to the police and just about every major news source, including Fox, has agreed that there is no lawful evidence to back this claim.


The Second Impeachment of Donald J. Trump


     In the days following the riot, Democratic congressmen and Democratic Senators called for Mike Pence to implement the 25th amendment, thus removing Trump from office. After days of not commenting, Pence officially opposed implementing the 25th. In response the house introduced articles to impeach Trump for “incident and insurrection.” Notably pointing out Trump’s wishes for his supporters to “fight like hell.” 

     After a day of debate and deliberation, the resolution would get bi-partisan support, officially making Trump the only President to be impeached twice. In the same poll of North Harford students and alumni, 55 percent approved impeaching Trump. The trial for the impeachment is to take place in The Senate chamber after Biden’s inauguration and the new term of congress begins. Chief Justice Roberts will reside over the case, though he allegedly holds objections to the impeachment. 

     The inauguration of Biden took place on January 20, due to Covid-19 the mall was effectively closed, and the parade was scrapped due to health and safety concerns. 

     Days prior to and during the inauguration, thousands of guards and officers would maintain security of the Capitol in preparation for expected protest and riots.


Joe Biden as President 


      Though tradition for the outgoing president to attend, Donald Trump did not go to the inauguration, instead going to his Mar-a-Lago resort. Mike Pence along with his wife as well as President’s Obama and Clinton were in attendance. In a farewell speech on the 19th, Trump hinted at staying in politics but made no commitments of outlining a plan for the future. 

     In his inaugural address, Biden called on bi-partisan cooperation to combat the pandemic and other pressing matters. The 46th president also promised Americans that he was up for the challenges ahead, “my soul is in it entirely.” He also made clear that there is a new arrival in America, and that the new reckoning will be a time of hope. Using the Bible verse  “Joy cometh in the morning” to underline that claim. 

      Finally, Biden stated that “Democracy has prevailed.”