The Trump mob attack on the Capitol stunned the nation this week, and many are asking how it happened. That includes Syracuse-area Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), who was in the Capitol building when it was breached.
Katko said he sees protesters every day when he heads to his office in the Capitol building.
"They’re chanting, they’re waving flags,” Katko said. “God Bless them. That’s the heartbeat of America. But not once have I seen any of them become aggressive or come after us. That’s something that’s going to have us reassess safety at the Capitol, much like we did after 9/11”
He said the Capitol Police are undermanned and underfunded, and simply weren’t in a position to defend the Capitol from a violent mob. Katko said Capitol Police command needs to explain what happened.
"They’re not so good with crowd control of this size because their job is to protect the buildings. When they get overwhelmed like they did, they had no chance. And they performed admirably. But, we do need to know what happened and why they had no more help at the outset. I think it was a very serious mistake on their part.”
He has offered to lead a congressional investigation into the massive security breach.
Katko doesn’t necessarily disagree with calls to use the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office. But he does think it simply might not be a realistic move, noting Trump could contest and then litigate the move.
“At a minimum, it’s several days if not several weeks it can be drawn out,” Katko said. “And in 13 days we’re going to have a peaceful transition of power January 20th. So based on all that, it’s kind of a moot conversation because I don’t think it would be done in time for this to happen.”
Katko said the same time crunch would apply to impeachment. In a call to reporters Thursday, Katko blamed President Trump for the attack on the Capitol Wednesday. The fourth-term Republican had endorsed Trump last year, and said if he’d known then what he knows now, he never would have done that.
“I can’t support him going forward and I don’t think the party will support him going forward,” Katko said.
And in the end, he said when lawmakers walked over broken glass, past disheveled security, and returned to finish certifying the presidential election, he realized the strength of the Constitution.
“We all got in there, took a breath, sat down, and got it done,” Katko said. “That moment was a lightning bolt, and I knew at that moment this country will always overcome anything. Because the way the system of government is set up, no one person is greater than the Union."