Two Democratic suburban congressional representatives – U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, and U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville – called for President Donald Trump to be impeached Wednesday night.
This after the breach at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, which Casten termed an act of domestic terrorism and an attempted coup.
“(Wednesday’s) violent, treasonous attack on the United States Congress was incited by the President of the United States,” Underwood said in a statement released late Wednesday. “By his own admission, he sought to overturn an election and the will of the American people. Our democracy is at stake and we cannot wait until Inauguration Day to see him removed from office — it must be immediate.”
Casten, who made his initial call for impeachment shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday on Twitter, also released a statement Wednesday morning, saying, “I do not use these words lightly. This is not a dispute on policy or procedure, but in light of yesterday’s events, it’s clear that this President presents a clear threat to the Constitution I took an oath to defend.”
“He incited a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol and then intentionally delayed the release of the National Guard,” Casten continued. “People were incentivized to commit acts of terrorism because of his words. Law enforcement was overmatched because of his actions.”
Casten, who represents a district that spans from Crystal Lake to Hawthorn Woods in the north down to St. Charles and Naperville, was planning to head to the house floor shortly before protestors supporting Trump stormed the Capitol building Wednesday.
Because of COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, only 44 members were allowed on the floor at a time, he said.
Tension in the Washington, D.C., area appeared to be growing in the past 48 hours, Casten said.
“You could feel it in the air,” he said.
Both Casten and Underwood condemned Wednesday’s events with Underwood calling Wednesday “a deeply dark day for our country.”
“My great fear is that we have also avoided confronting the reality that that is what is happening,” Casten said in an interview Wednesday before his call for impeachment. “That’s what happened at the house today and it was incited by the president.”
Underwood said Wednesday’s “insurrection was a result of more than just years of inflammatory rhetoric, but elected leaders capitalizing on hate and anti-democratic anger. There should be no historical sanctuary for those who ignited this fire.”
“It is the honor of my life to walk into the Capitol every day and serve the people of the 14th District of Illinois; today’s acts of violence attacking this building — the global symbol of our republic — in an attempt to overthrow our democracy in the name of so-called patriotism were an infuriating, heartbreaking, and un-American disgrace,” she said in a statement Wednesday evening.
In the wake of Wednesday’s attack, Casten felt both inspired and disappointed, he said.
“It’s this mix of being both totally inspired by Americans and completely disappointed in people – who have the unbelievable privilege to have the office that I share – who somehow think that it is more important for the person who they want to hold power to hold power than to uphold the oath that we take to uphold the Constitution,” Casten said.
Casten condemned the acts at the capitol Wednesday, but said they were carried out by a “scared” minority that was emboldened by leaders including Trump and U.S. Rep. Ted Cruz.
“It scares them to death that we might actually live in a country that reflects the will of the American people,” Casten said.
The congressman encouraged McHenry County residents to broaden their social circles, noting that intolerance may be heightened during this time of social isolation.
“I think that if folks in Crystal Lake are going to take anything out of this it’s don’t compromise public health, but be self-aware enough to recognize that whatever good intentions you have – if you’re not regularly bumping into people who are different than you, there are blinders that go up.”
Underwood said in the statement that Congress will get back to its “sacred, Constitutionally-directed responsibility to certify the will of the American people and their choice in selecting President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to lead this country” as soon as it is safely able to.
“These terrorists will not win and democracy will prevail,” she said, adding “We were reminded today that our democracy is fragile—let us never forget what makes this country great and may we all, together, fight for it every day. I look forward to doing that later this evening.”