CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS — In order to get some perspective on the events that took place in Washington, D.C. over the last 24 hours, Eyewitness News This Morning spoke with a New Jersey professor who is an expert on constitutional law.
Perry Dane is a professor of law at Rutgers University’s Camden campus. He says the chaos that transpired on Wednesday will be a historic moment.
“The Capitol hadn’t been breached since the War of 1812, but in terms of the specific events last night, it reaffirms the importance of orderly transition of authority,” Dane said. “It ended up being orderly, it hadn’t been orderly in the most violent way for the whole day but ended up being orderly. These ordinarily small rituals we didn’t ordinarily notice, but this time the legitimacy and the importance of our constitutional order was reaffirmed, in the most dramatic way possible.”
President Donald Trump released a statement early Thursday morning saying there will be an orderly transition of power on Jan. 20 when Joe Biden is inaugurated. But, is it a little too late as we’ve been waiting for him to say this for weeks?
“It is way little and it is way too late,” Dane said. “One of our most cherished political traditions is the graceful concession — which in this case should have occurred around November 7. So it is about two months too late, certainly too little coming in the middle of the night after the Congress has been through the crisis of yesterday that he largely instigated.”
After the events at the Capitol building on Wednesday, several lawmakers, including Congresswoman Madeline Dean — who represents parts of Montgomery and Berks Counties — are calling for President Trump to be removed from office.
Dane says that lawmakers’ other option would be impeachment and trial but there is not much time for that before he leaves office.
If President Trump is impeached after he leaves office, the impeachment and trial would disqualify him from taking office again.
“I don’t know if they have the stomach for it and I don’t know if once he leaves office, the memories of this terrible moment will just fade,” Dane said. “But as I was saying about the 25th amendment, it is not supposed to be a punishment. It is supposed to be a way of dealing with incapacity and that’s why it is actually in the hands of the vice president and the cabinet who presumably know best first-hand whether the president is genuinely incapacitated. Whether his mental state is such that he really cannot be trusted, even for the last two weeks of his administration to hold office.”
In terms of moving forward from this incident, Dane says as Biden moves into office he needs to continue to be a calm voice.
“I think he needs to do what he’s been doing, which is to try to be a calming voice in contrast to the sort of polarizing voice that President Trump has been,” Dane said. “Obviously, Trump is not the only cause of our national polarization, but he’s been a major contributing factor and I think President Biden, if he does nothing else, can simply lower the temperature, I think that is certainly one of his goals. And we’ll see what happens in the long run. The events of yesterday can either be the slap in the face that convinces Americans that they’re to step back from the brink, that would be a good result. Or it could be a precedent in very four years, the losing party can simply continue to fight even after Election Day and if it is that sort of precedent, then it is an even more terrible moment than it seemed as we were watching the events unfold yesterday.”
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