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Rep. Rashida Tlaib: I Fear Trump Will Lead More Violent Attacks; He Must Be Held to Account

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As President-elect Joe Biden prepares for his inauguration on Wednesday, he has outlined sweeping plans for his first days in office to address the raging coronavirus pandemic and roll back key parts of Donald Trump’s agenda, including on immigration, the climate crisis and more. President Trump, meanwhile, leaves office as the only president ever impeached twice, after he encouraged a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. For more on the transition, we speak with Congressmember Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who says senators must vote to convict Trump after his impeachment in the House. “I hope that there’s an awakening in the Senate, but I’ve been waiting for that awakening to happen for quite a while,” says Tlaib.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: On Donald Trump’s final full day as president, the Senate is holding confirmation hearings for five of President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees as Biden prepares for his inauguration Wednesday along with Kamala Harris.

Biden has already outlined a day-one agenda of executive actions to address the raging coronavirus pandemic and roll back key parts of Trump’s agenda. On Wednesday, he says, he’ll repeal Trump’s travel ban for citizens of majority-Muslim countries, move to rejoin the Paris climate accord, and issue a mask mandate on federal property. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill to offer an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status.

Meanwhile, Trump plans to leave Washington, D.C., Wednesday morning and continues to make false claims of election fraud after Congress impeached him last week for a second time after the failed insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th.

Among those with an agenda for incoming President Biden are members of the Squad, and in a minute we’ll be joined by Congressmember Rashida Talib of Michigan. This is Congressmember Tlaib speaking during the House impeachment proceedings last Wednesday.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: Those who incited an attack on the people’s house do not get to talk about healing and unity. They have torn this country apart. They have stoked the fire and then handed the gasoline to Donald Trump.

Dr. King once said, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is in the presence of justice.” Today we must embody those words, and we must understand that peace must be centered in truth and action. We cannot sit, Madam Chair, sit idly by after a violent attempted coup and allow lies and hate to continue.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Wednesday. On Monday, Congressmember Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted, “The Senate reconvenes tomorrow. They should immediately convict Donald Trump and hold him fully accountable for inciting a deadly attack on our country.”

Well, for more, we’re joined by Congressmember Rashida Tlaib.

It’s great to have you back on Democracy Now! If you can start off by talking about what is about to happen tomorrow? It’s not only the inauguration. And we’d like you to talk about this unprecedented crackdown in your adopted city right now, the capital of the United States, but also this slew of first day executive orders. It looks like the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, the largest caucus in Congress, has certainly held sway on a number of these issues.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: Yeah, I think many of us are obviously concerned, but it’s just a continuation of this administration. I mean, the Trump administration hasn’t fully been transparent, nor have they had moral values — I don’t care if it’s around pardons, death penalty. There’s just been a wave of increased, I think, hate in this violent agenda by this current administration. So I’m not surprised, as all of us who were celebrating the legacy of Dr. King, that he was yet still signing a number of executive orders, and then also continuing with appointments and other kinds of measures that are pretty unprecedented.

So, I think it’s really important, Amy, to understand just how dangerous this man is, even after he leaves office. He has spewed out this agenda, that I don’t think is going to go anywhere. I think he’s going to continue to lead this type of — what are people calling — insurrection; I call it violent attacks on our country. And so, I think it’s really important that we, as a country, realize accountability is extremely important here, from those in Congress that enabled him, from those that continue to support him, that they all need to be held equally accountable, as well as Donald Trump.

I hope — I hope that there’s an awakening in the Senate, but I’ve been waiting for that awakening to happen for quite a while, for Leader McConnell and many others to finally say, “Enough is enough,” and impeach and convict the forever-impeached, twice, President Donald Trump. What he did was pretty unprecedented.

And, Amy, I have to be honest: If it was somebody that looked like me, if it was President Barack Obama, there would be no question that he would be held accountable. He would be convicted. He would be removed from office. He would never, ever be able to run again. He wouldn’t ever be able to get public benefits. He has truly sent us on a dangerous path that I don’t thing is going to go away very easily even after he leaves office.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Congressmember, could you talk a little bit about your own experience during that insurrection? According to the staff in Representative Ayanna Pressley’s office, panic buttons had been ripped out. What have you heard about that? And tell us what you, yourself, experienced that day.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: Yeah, that day, I was not on campus, even though I was scheduled to speak on the floor because Michigan was one of the states that was going to be objected by the Republicans, the Electoral College, so I was planning on speaking for over, like, close to five minutes on the House floor. But, fortunately, by fate, I was not on campus, nor was I near the attacks.

I started beginning to hear about them, checking in with many of my Michigan delegation members who were on the floor. I didn’t experience similar trauma; I think many of my colleagues did. But it sure angered me to see the place that I work, that I fight for my district every single day, under attack, and so easily done. I kept seeing videos after videos of these folks carrying Confederate flags, chanting “Nancy! Nancy!” trying to find her, to kidnap members of the United States Congress, calling us the traitors when they’re the ones attacking our democracy. And so, it definitely, I think, for my team and I, who this past week did a session around just self-care in trauma and understanding that, you know, the place that we work and that we go and advocate and fight for our people was literally surrounded by gun-carrying, violent folks who had every intention of hurting members of Congress or anyone that wanted to hold Trump accountable.

I think it’s important for listeners to please take a moment, and know it’s hard, but I did — I listened to the speech that this forever-impeached, lawless, corrupted president gave to the crowd before they headed towards the Capitol. It was very clear what his orders were. And they followed them very clearly.

And yet again, many of my colleagues continue to enable him and continue to support what happened. “I’m against violence,” they say, and then they continue to say that’s not what they were here to support, when it is very clear, from intelligence, they had every intention of kidnapping. They left human feces all throughout the hallway, carried Confederate flags, chanted and looked for Speaker Pelosi, while one of my colleagues live-tweeted the whereabouts of the speaker.

This was — well, could have been so much worse than what we saw. I mean, just the image of the noose erected outside of the Capitol, in hopes that were going to be able to lynch the vice president of the United States for following our democracy, following what the will of the people were, which was to make sure that Joe Biden was the next president of the United States.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Congressmember, I wanted to ask you about some of —

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: But this is so deep and so painful to have—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about some of the initiatives of President-elect Biden, both the — some of the executive orders, a reversal of the ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries, and also the XL pipeline, and also the indication that he’s apparently going to try to move quickly on immigration reform, something that has stymied Congress now for more than 16 — I mean, what’s it? Fourteen, 15 years. Since 2006, there have been attempts to try to get immigration reform through Congress. Did you get a sense that this will change in this session of the new Congress?

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: I mean, I think, you know, for myself and many of my sisters in service and others, we are asking for a sense of urgency and moving forward in trying to address these broken systems that have left so many of our families in a lot of pain, many of which are oppressive policies, hate and discriminative policies that have torn our families apart, left them, in some ways — you know, their children and others — again, with trauma that’s going to — who knows how long it’s going to take to even address that? It’s going to be generations of our families that have been impacted by this hate agenda that continues to spew in these broken systems, that, honestly, should have been addressed years ago.

So, yes, from my immigrant neighbors in the 13th Congressional District, what I hear from them is this is great. They want the details, and they want to make sure that someone like them, who have been here for years, have been part of our community for decades, raising their children here with mine, that they are going to have a pathway to citizenship, that’s not going to take another decade or take these kinds of leaps of bureaucracy that really will delay, again, for them to be able to move on with their life and not live in fear.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you, Congressmember Rashida Tlaib, about the experience of your colleagues who were there. Is it right, you were vaccinated right around that time?

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: I had the second vaccination — and I never get sick — and I got all the side effects, literally woke up with a fever, thought it was COVID, got the test done. In all of this, me trying to make sure that I was going to be able to get to the floor to speak on behalf of my state, but that’s when the lockdown happened, and I kept hearing reports and checking in again with colleagues.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you had Ayanna Pressley, the first African American congresswoman elected from Massachusetts, her staff realizing, when they were locked in the office, that somehow the panic buttons — is this true — that you all have in your offices, were ripped out, something they had never seen before? You had Pramila Jayapal and Congressmember Coleman from New Jersey both testing positive for COVID, as they were forced to be in a secure location very closely with Republican colleagues who refused to wear masks. Now both of their husbands also have tested positive for COVID-19.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: Yeah, so, you know, I think Representative Pressley’s staff folks did make public that the panic button wasn’t there. It did make many of us, including myself and others, to make sure ours was intact. Mine was. And again, I don’t know how much we can share of the whereabouts of these buttons, but I know it’s part of — I think, before we even got there, part of a process or a protocol for members of the United States Congress.

I think, for many of my colleagues, including Representative Pressley and Pramila Jayapal, Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, many of my colleagues that were in that room, undisclosed room, we all, I think, watched as some of the newer members, ones that continue to enable this president in the violence on our democracy and on our people, they mocked one of my colleagues, who gently and very gracefully asked for them to wear masks, just, you know, on top of, again, this attack, many of which heard the shooting outside of the House chambers.

Some of my colleagues were telling me the next day — one of them, who’s been there longer than I have, said he’s experiencing post-traumatic stress the next day, just realizing his whole body was kind of in shock. And again, a continuation of hearing stories from many of my colleagues about just how unprepared and just the kind of shock that they all went through in experiencing that and hearing not only the shooting, but also the chants and just kind of the loud crowd screaming outside of the House chambers.

AMY GOODMAN: And your colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez saying she feared Republican lawmakers would lead rioters to her if she joined them in a secure room. She said, “I thought I was going to die.” Which leads us to, one, the demand for an investigation, people like Mikie Sherrill, the congresswoman from New Jersey, saying she saw these tours the day before, of what turned out to be the rioters, the domestic terrorists, the next day — could only be invited in by congressmembers or their staff — and what the impeachment trial would look like, why there’s a demand to do it while McConnell is still in charge, when the Democrats are going to be taking over in just a matter of days — is that right? — the Senate.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: Yeah, I think — you know, I think it’s really important to understand that there is a tremendous breakdown of trust among many of us with some of our colleagues, again, some of which were live-tweeting, continued to even tweet and speak on the floor during the impeachment, the second impeachment. They’re kind of almost enabling speeches about what happened and how this — you know, spewing into the conspiracy theories that this was a stolen election. A continuation of them pushing back against this rhetoric, that is real, coming from this white-supremacist-in-chief, President Trump, and it was just — you can see that, as we sat there in shock after everything we’ve all gone through together, including themselves, I watched, again, one by one, continue to support what happened. They claim they’re not against violence, but they’re supporting a violent president. They’re supporting someone that just gave that speech to the crowd that really gave them the green light of going ahead and, again, doing what they did on January 6.

I think, with impeachment, people want to move quickly. This is — you know, I think we wanted eight days ago for the Senate to convene and to stop, because what you see now, not only with executive orders — who knows what he’s going to do with pardons? He’s appointing people. Understand, this is a very dangerous president. This is a person that is a threat to our country and our nation. And we want, again, a sense of urgency, and have those that enabled him, including Mitch McConnell, to finally wake up and hold him accountable. It is important, again, for the future of our nation, but also to send a strong message that it’s over, enough, enough with the conspiracy theories that have led to, you know, this kind of hate agenda, but also underlining racism, when they target communities like Detroit and communities that I represent. And so, I think it’s important to understand, for all of us, we wanted them to move quickly, because we’re seeing what we’re seeing in the last few days. Who knows what he’s going to be able to do? Again, he is the most not powerful person only in the country, but the world. And I think, again, he’s a very imminent danger to our world, to our country.

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