Southern California House Democrats joined their leadership Thursday, Jan. 7 in calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment or removal from office via the 25th Amendment after his supporters, fresh off his call to march to the U.S. Capitol, stormed the building in a riot that left four people dead and a nation questioning its democratic future.
Demands that Trump leave office before President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration came hours after four Southern California House Republicans — Ken Calvert of Corona, Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita, Darrell Issa of El Cajon and Jay Obernolte of Big Bear Lake — voted to support objections to Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s Electoral College results.
Their desire to upend the votes cast in the Nov. 3 election, echoed by a majority of House Republicans and those who engaged in violence in D.C., didn’t prevail. Before dawn Thursday, Congress certified Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College victory.
Still, the insurrection that delayed the election’s certification, a normally pro-forma process, remained an emotional topic Thursday for many lawmakers.
Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, said that as rioters roamed the halls of the Senate and House chambers she and another lawmaker, along with two staffers, were sequestered in a dark office and needed to use a couch as a safety barricade. She added that they waited about six hours before looking for Capitol Police.
Describing the event as “domestic terrorism,” Porter also called for Trump’s removal, either through impeachment or the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows the vice president and a majority of cabinet members to oust presidents deemed to be unwell.
“It would be a mistake to wait for the President-Elect’s inauguration in an effort to put this behind us,” Porter said. “Our duty demands that we act today to provide accountability.”
It would be a mistake to wait for the President-Elect’s inauguration in an effort to put this behind us. Our duty demands that we act today to provide accountability.
Read my full statement on what happened at the Capitol yesterday: pic.twitter.com/vx0GAf6KId
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) January 7, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also issued statements Thursday calling for Trump’s immediate ouster, as did several local representatives.
“Congress must impeach and remove the president immediately,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, in a press release. “He is an imminent danger to our country, and we cannot allow him to further damage our republic. He cannot be allowed to pardon his allies, to encourage violence, or to further disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. Even one more day in office is a risk we cannot afford.”
The President must be impeached and removed immediately. pic.twitter.com/WiHBGOCPgD
— Rep. Alan Lowenthal (@RepLowenthal) January 7, 2021
Porter and Lowenthal were joined by Reps. Mark Takano, D-Riverside, Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte, Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles and Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, in sponsoring impeachment articles. Other Southern California Democrats supporting Trump’s immediate removal include Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano.
SoCal GOP reps support objections
Since Nov. 3, allegations of voting irregularities and questions about state voting rules have been raised and dismissed in more than 60 lawsuits. Still, going into Wednesday, Garcia and Obernolte signaled their support for objecting to some states’ Electoral College tallies. They followed through and were joined by Calvert, Issa and 119 GOP House members who sustained the objection to Arizona’s results, and 136 who supported the Pennsylvania objection.
“During difficult and divisive times in our nation I believe we must follow the Constitution,” Calvert said in a news release. “That’s why today I lent my voice to the millions of Americans and my constituents who are deeply concerned by the integrity of the election. I remain especially troubled by Constitutionally questionable changes of voting rules in some states by authorities other than state legislatures.”
In an emailed statement, Obernolte said: “While most states worked within their own laws to carry out the election in a safe and secure manner, a select few made significant changes to election processes through unilateral court or executive decisions that did not pass state legislatures.”
“ … This is not a partisan decision – it is one I make in the interest of protecting the foundations of our democracy.”
In a written statement, Garcia, sworn in earlier this month for a full term in his northern L.A. County seat, said: “My objection to the electoral votes of two states was not in an attempt to overturn the results of the election, it was to fulfill my duty to protect the rights of the men and women of California’s 25th District who elected me to serve them and stand up for their rights.”
Issa’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Newly elected Reps. Michelle Steel, R-Seal Beach, and Young Kim, R-La Habra, were among seven Republicans who didn’t vote on whether to accept Arizona’s results.
Steel, who represents Orange County’s coastal 48th District, tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday morning. She said she has no symptoms, but she remains in quarantine.
Under House rules renewed Monday, Steel should have been able to participate in Wednesday night’s votes using a proxy. Her spokeswoman, Danielle Stewart, hasn’t responded to requests for why Steel didn’t exercise that option.
Kim stated before Wednesday’s session that she intended to vote to uphold all states’ certified election results, and she acknowledged Biden as the soon-to-be president.
Kim — who represents the 39th District, which includes portions of Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties — learned during the day Wednesday that she might have been exposed to the coronavirus, her office said.
So as soon as the lockdown from the riots ended, Kim took two tests, the timing of which conflicted with the Arizona vote. Both tests were negative and she has no symptoms.
Kim’s office said she consulted with the Sergeant at Arms and an attending physician, and she was cleared to vote in a socially distanced manner. Kim then voted to uphold the electoral votes from Pennsylvania.
After the explanation for Kim’s missed vote on Arizona results circulated on Twitter, Rep. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, questioned Kim’s explanation.
“COVID testing is done in the AM not in the middle of the night,” Torres tweeted. She added: “Or in the middle of a riot, when we are on lockdown. Defending our constitution. But please do tell us where we can get a COVID test in the middle of the chaos?”
Kim’s office said she was able to get the tests through the attending physician as soon as they left lockdown in her office.
Some of Kim’s supporters defended her online.
“So you insinuated your colleague lied and faked a covid test to skip a vote…but then she came and voted exactly the way she told numerous media outlets she would earlier in the week?” Sam Oh, GOP consultant who helped run Kim’s campaign, responded to Torres on Twitter. “Troll less, lead more.”
Staff Writers Ryan Carter and Nick Green contributed to this report.