State and Town Leaders React to the Storming of the U.S. Capitol

by Doug McClure

HARDWICK, MONTPELIER – One week ago today, rioters attempting to stop the certification of the results of the presidential election stormed the United States Capitol. Some state and local leaders shared their reactions to the event.

Governor Phil Scott laid the blame for the “insurrection” at the feet of President Trump. Gov. Scott was the first Republican governor to call for Trump’s removal. “President Trump has orchestrated a campaign to cause an insurrection that overturns the results of a free, fair and legal election,” he said. “There is no doubt that the President’s delusion, fabrication, self-interest, and ego have led us – step by step – to this very low, and very dangerous, moment in American history.” Scott said Trump “should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress.”

In a statement on Twitter, Lt.-Governor-Elect Molly Gray blamed Trump for what she called an “egregious attack on our democracy.” She said, “If ever there were a need for Vermont values in Washington, it is now.” Gray said she supported Congress using “any measures deemed necessary to remove President Trump from office.”

The Vermont House of Representatives voted 130-16 to pass a resolution condemning the insurrection and calling for Trump to resign or be removed. Opposing the resolution were 16 Republicans. Rep. Vicki Strong (R-Orleans-Caledonia) was quoted in the media as doubting the reports from D.C., but later said the quote was taken out of context. She said her remarks were made in an off-the-floor caucus very early on when the situation was very confused. She could not believe that what she was seeing on the news could possibly be happening, she said. Strong said, “I did vote yes on the resolution on behalf of the constituents who I felt wanted me to support it.” Reps. Janet Ancel (D-Washington 6), Dan Noyes (D-Lamoille 2), Avram Patt (D-Lamoille-Washington), Katherine Sims (D-Orleans-Caledonia), Chip Troiano (D-Caledonia-2), and Dave Yacovone (D-Lamoille-Washington) were among the resolution’s sponsors.

Less than 24 hours later, the Vermont Senate followed with its own resolution. Senator Russ Ingalls (R-Essex/Orleans) was the sole dissenter. Ingalls did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Strong said that “the events we saw on Wednesday, of violence in our nation’s Capitol Building, were shocking, scary, and brought grief and raw anguish to my heart and mind. I have since been in prayer for those who were injured or lost their life, and for their families, and I am praying for our country to move forward in peace and healing. Our right to assembly should be honored in law-abiding, peaceful ways.”

Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) penned an Op-Ed and added as a postscript “I would say that Mr. Trump’s antics cost Republicans the Senate. In my eyes, his irresponsible behavior has deprived him of the right to be called a ‘Republican.'”

Rep. Troiano (D-Caledonia-2) said the insurrection brought back unhappy memories of his youth. As a 21-year-old soldier returned from Vietnam and stationed at Fort Meade in 1968, he said his unit was dispatched to the District to “quash riots” around the destruction of “Resurrection City,” which Troiano described as “a cardboard city that was erected on the Capitol mall by Black citizens in recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination.”

Troiano said his unit, which was training in riot control, was not far from the city and were called out. “We rolled into the city in armored personal carriers in full combat gear with loaded weapons,” he said. “They are not good memories of the days, of patrolling the streets of DC. The images of yesterday were all too reminiscent and did not sit well with me.”

Hardwick Select Board Chair Eric Remick said he was almost speechless. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that US citizens actually stormed the US Capital in an attempt to overthrow a free and fair election,” he said. “And that they were incited by the POTUS. I’m not much of a student of history but I can’t think of any precedent and I hope to never see anything like it again.”

Wolcott Select Board Vice Chair Linda Martin said, “I am in shock while at the same time not surprised.” Martin said she and an exchange student from Uruguay that she considers her son “were talking during the counting of votes for the President. My comment to him was ‘Now the civil wars begin.’ I am sickened at the assault on our Democracy that so many have fought for and the many who have lost their lives.”