MANKATO — Retired physics professor Louis Schwartzkopf watched footage of the U.S. Capitol breach on MSNBC Wednesday at his Mankato home. He and his wife, like many, were glued to their television, transfixed by the events unfolding.
“It was pretty shocking to see that happen,” Schwartzkopf said. He said he was not surprised by Trump’s role, saying he helped provoke the violence by the mob of his supporters.
Trump had urged them at an earlier rally in Washington, D.C., to go to the Capitol: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Kevin Parsneau, a political science professor at Minnesota State University, said the events Wednesday were not entirely unforeseen because Trump has been pushing a narrative that he was cheated out of the election.
“If you believe the election has been stolen, in your mind that could justify storming the Capitol,” he said.
As pro-Trump extremists pushed past police and broke into the Capitol, Trump tweeted at about 6 p.m. telling his supporters to go home.
He also reiterated that the election was stolen and encouraged supporters to remember the day going forward. The tweet has since been taken down and Trump was suspended from Twitter.
Julio Zelaya, a program coordinator for the ACLU, said the peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of the country’s democracy and that it has been disrupted by the violence and false narratives being pushed about election fraud.
He said the breach and vandalism at the Capitol was nothing short of a failed coup attempt.
Since Wednesday, a body of legislators has been calling for the impeachment of Trump or invoking the 25th Amendment, which could remove him from office. Schwarzkopf said he agrees that Trump should be impeached and lose his power early.
“We should get rid of him as quickly as possible and take safeguards to make sure the inauguration proceeds without further disruption,” he said.
With two weeks until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Parsneau said impeachment proceedings would mostly be symbolic. Although, he said, it could potentially stop events like the breach of the Capitol from occurring again by shortening the time Trump has left in office.
“I think one of the concerns people have is that as we get closer to the end of his administration, what else might happen,” he said. “The thought is that he needs to be removed before he can do more or could potentially start pardoning people who broke into the Capitol.”
Trump said in a statement following the vote confirming Biden’s election win Thursday morning that there will be a smooth transition of power.
Parsneau said impeachment could reduce Trump’s presidency from 13 days left to seven, but that the action could invoke enough anger from extreme Trump supporters to lead to another revolt like the breach at the Capitol.
Noah Lasalvia, president of Minnesota State University’s College Republicans, doesn’t think impeachment is necessary. He views it as a power grab that could hurt the presidential transition since there are only two weeks left in the presidency. He said the transition of power should be peaceful, and people should instead look ahead to the future and future elections.
He condemned the actions of the Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol, calling the group “Trumplicans” that will live and die by the words of Trump, a separate faction from the Republican Party.
“That is not how you get things done. You go and you vote. You do a peaceful protest. That is not peaceful,” he said.
To Lasalvia, these actions can further the political division in the country.
“If we want to get through this as a country, we need to come together and stop the bickering and back and forth,” he said. He worries that people in the Republican Party will face backlash and be judged based on the actions of the group that stormed the Capitol.
“We are not like that ... going forward, I can see our group being labeled as a hate group,” he said of the MSU College Republican student group. “I hope it doesn’t stick like that … I hope we can move past this and all come together.”
Minnesota GOP 1st District Rep. Jim Hagedorn condemned the violence at the Capitol Wednesday, tweeting: “Storming the U.S. Capitol is not acceptable, and I condemn in the strongest possible terms those who have breached the area and disrupted House and Senate deliberations. As Americans, this is not how we settle debates and disagreements. It is time for calm and order.”
He said he encourages Americans to be involved in the political process but do so within the confines of the law.
The House and Senate certified Biden’s victory during a late-night session that went into Thursday morning. Hagedorn sided with colleagues who unsuccessfully moved to reject Biden’s win, citing unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.
Hagedorn said a reason for his decision was due to concerns about changes being made to election laws by election officials and courts in contested states without the consent of their legislatures.