Our democracy was pushed to the brink. Pa. Republicans bear responsibility | Thursday Morning Coffee

January 7, 2021 7:22 am

Former Pa. state Rep. Rick Saccone (Facebook screen capture)

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

The madness and treason that’s consumed the Party of Trump now has a face: And it belongs to former Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone.

On Wednesday, on a day that thugs and domestic terrorists bent on overthrowing the results of a lawful election, stormed the United States Capitol with laughable ease, Saccone, an Allegheny County Republican, who once swore an oath to uphold the law and the constitution, tried to justify the unjustifiable.

“We are storming the Capitol,” Saccone, also a former Congressional candidate who once aspired to serve in the building he proposed to sack, brayed in a now-deleted post. “Our vanguard has broken through the barricades. We will save this nation. Are you with me?”

In a now-deleted video, preserved by Sen. Lindsey Williams, D-AlleghenySaccone boasts that he and others are “trying to run out all the evil people that are in there, and all the RINOs (Republicans in name only) who have betrayed our president. We’re going to run them out of their offices. We’re calling on Vice President [Mike] Pence to support our president. Look at all these people here … hundreds of thousands. The fake news media won’t tell you how many people are here. But I’m telling you that there are hundreds of thousands of people here to support our president and save our nation.”

We know how that ended: With Capitol Police, their guns drawn, guarding the doors to the U.S. House chamber, as people hid behind desks and chairs, as people tried to break it down. With an angry mob swarming, seemingly unchallenged, through the halls of the Capitol and across its east and west fronts. And with four people dead.

It was a coup. It was insurrection. And it was all based on a lie, incited and perpetrated by President Donald Trump, and propagated by loyal flunkies across every level of government, that the results of a free and fair election — despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary — was somehow riddled with widespread fraud.

It reached its hideous conclusion Wednesday, as Trump exhorted his followers to march on the Capitol.

So thus did Saccone, and his fellow pro-Trump extremists, descend on the Capitol on Wednesday to try to up-end the quadrennial counting of electoral votes already riven by controversy, thanks to the cynical and careerist fever dreams of Trump loyalists in the U.S. House and Senate who decided they’d object to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: U.S. Capitol police officers point their guns at a door that was vandalized in the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

As the Capital-Star has reported previously, eight of Pennsylvania’s nine Republican U.S. House lawmakers went into Wednesday’s count planning to object to the certification of the results.

And they were doing it, as U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, outlined in a Tweet, at the behest of home state Republican pols, who were at least honest enough to admit that they couldn’t short-circuit Biden’s Keystone State victory on their own.

“When Members of our PA General Assembly have concerns, it’s my DUTY to have concerns, too,” Perry wrote on Wednesday. “The PA Senate has asked Congress to DELAY cert of EC to allow for due process in pursuit of election integrity in a key case before SCOTUS — I’m obliged to concur.”

Which, of course, is just nonsense.

Perry was under no such obligation — other than sheer partisanship and a misguided loyalty to a tinpot tyrant — to do any such thing.

Contrast that to U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who voted for Trump and campaigned for his re-election, spoke forcefully against the efforts to derail Biden’s certification during a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday just before things went screaming off the rails.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin (R) and Saccone at the U.S. Capitol (Facebook photo)

And that’s where we draw a straight line back to Harrisburg. The protest that brought Perry to his own profile in cowardice was prompted by, among others, the guy standing to Saccone’s right in the photo above: State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin.

Readers will recall that, back in November, Mastriano organized a pre-Thanksgiving sham hearing in Gettysburg, where such Trump loyalists as former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani belched forth lie after lie about election fraud on the Pennsylvania taxpayers’ dime.

Most attendees didn’t wear masks as the pandemic raged, and Mastriano later came down with a case of COVID-19.  On Wednesday night, state Sen. Tim Kearney, D-Delaware, called for Mastriano’s resignation because he traveled to D.C. for the kamikaze attack on our democracy.

On Monday, GOP leaders in the Senate, joined by their colleagues, sent a letter to Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation urging them to delay the certification of Pennsylvania’s vote count, the Capital-Star’s Elizabeth Hardison reported.

The lawmakers who signed the letter did not allege fraud, but instead  said guidelines from the Wolf administration and directives from courts led to “inconsistencies” in the way counties administered mail-in voting and needed further investigation, Hardison reported, even though the results have already been certified and were thoroughly (and unsuccessfully) litigated.

(Instagram image)

The letter went out the day before the Senate descended into chaos over the chamber’s GOP majority’s refusal to seat Sen. Jim Brewster, D-Allegheny, whose narrow, 69-vote victory is being litigated by his GOP challenger. Democrats accused Republicans of trying to subvert the will of the voters. And things grew so fractious that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Senate’s presiding officer, was ousted from his post by Republicans.

Now, sharp-elbowed partisanship under the state Capitol dome is nothing new. Pennsylvania pols have been gut-punching each other for decades. But for the last four years, Republicans on the state level have increasingly sounded — and acted — like the orange-hued bully who’s thankfully on his way out the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Still, the slapstick thuggishness of 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner seems almost quaint, two years later, compared to the more malevolent forces in the state House and Senate who were actively working to flip the election to Trump in Pennsylvania.

There’s only one course of action for the Congressional GOP. If they’re truly a party of law and order, if they claim to cherish the Constitution as much as they do, they have to step up to demand that the extremists who stormed the Capitol Wednesday be brought to justice. They have to support calls for Trump to be impeached or removed through the 25th Amendment.

In Harrisburg, GOP leaders must support calls for Mastriano’s resignation, saying loud and clear that there is no space in their ranks for those who support insurrection against the United States government. And they must drop their nonsensical calls for an investigation of an election that was free and fair and reflected the will of the majority of American voters.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
Republicans who control the state Senate denounced the violence in Washington on Wednesday, but stopped short of accepting the 2020 election resultsElizabeth Hardison reports.

Cassie Miller compiled reaction and comment from state lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf, as well as members of the state’s congressional delegation, on Wednesday’s violence.

Capital-Star Washington Reporters Laura Olson and Ariana Figueroa have what you need to know about events on the ground on Wednesday. And Figueroa has the story on the woman who died Wednesday.

Officials in Virginia scrambled the Old Dominion’s National Guard and State Police to Washington D.C., our sibling site, the Virginia Mercury reports.

Senator Jake Corman takes questions from reporters (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller).

Spotlight PA
 has its take on the Pennsylvania lawmakers who rejected the election results (via the Inquirer).
The Tribune-Review has more on Rick Saccone’s role in Wednesday’s violence.
Joe Biden’s win was confirmed early Thursday morningPennLive has the details on what’s next.
The Citizens-Voice has reaction from U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-9th Districtwho was among the Pa. Republicans who objected to the election results.

Here’s your #Instagram of the Day:


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A post shared by Gabrielle Union-Wade (@gabunion)

WHYY-FM has reaction from Philadelphia area lawmakers.
WITF-FM’s Emily Previti has a timeline of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election year.
Trump has agreed to an ‘orderly transition of power,’ 
even as he claims ‘it’s only the beginning of our fight,’ Politico reports.

And now you’re up to date. 

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.