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Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi On The Violence At The Capitol


The flag over the U.S. Capitol has been lowered to half-staff. I saw it on my way into the studio today. Democracy had a near-death experience this week when a mob overran the building. Five people did die in the siege, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. The bill to impeach President Trump for incitement of insurrection will be introduced by Democrats on Monday if he doesn't resign first. Members of both parties are calling for President Trump to be held accountable for encouraging the mob.

Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois, joins us. He was in his office when the attack began and was escorted to safety. He and his staff were unharmed. Congressman, thanks so much for being with us on this momentous week.

RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: What does a bill to impeach accomplish when Trump has just 12 days left in office and the Senate probably doesn't have time to hold a trial anyway?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I think there's three things that people like myself feel right now. You know, I think that first, the president has not ruled out pardoning himself - he's actively looking at that - and the insurrectionists in connection with Wednesday. Secondly, he still has access to the awesome might of the military. And then third, and probably most disturbing, is that what happened on January 6, this past Wednesday, might not be the end of the insurrection but the beginning. And I think there's a gut feeling that there's so many unanswered questions - and we can get into that - about what happened that, you know, he remains a clear and present danger to our country right now.

SIMON: Will impeachment, though, address that? I mean, look; you're a very accomplished attorney. Couldn't he get up this morning and pardon himself if that's what he wants to do?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: We can get into the legal scholarship on this, but technically, somebody who is impeached may not be able to pardon themselves. And the impeachment process could happen even after somebody leaves office. But I think that the first preference for everybody is, you know, his resignation or removal through the 25th Amendment. I think the most important thing, Scott, that after what we saw this past week, given the outrage and the sense of betrayal and, of course, the grief, is doing nothing is not an option.

SIMON: Congressman, there are already reports that people are organizing for more violence on Inauguration Day or another day. I won't even mention the date, although it'll get reported a few days before the inauguration. You're a member of the House Intelligence Committee. How worried are you about the days ahead?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think we have to be concerned, Scott. You know, I think that, you know, folks like myself woke up on Wednesday, and we knew that there would be a large crowd. I didn't anticipate how large it ended up being - you know, thousands and thousands of people. And I never anticipated that the president would incite, you know, this mob to march on the Capitol and, quote, unquote, "go wild" and instigate the insurrection. But we, at this point, have to be wiser to what's possible. And we have to prepare accordingly.

SIMON: Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, thank you. I hope you and your staff are all right.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: We're OK. Our democracy will be OK. We just have to defend the Constitution and our country at all costs at this point. And I think that's job No. 1 for Congress.

SIMON: Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you, sir. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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