HARRISBURG — One thousand members of the Pennsylvania National Guard are being deployed to Washington, D.C., to help maintain the peace at the Capitol until the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday.
The announcement came a day after a mob of Trump supporters stormed into the U.S. Capitol and interrupted a joint session of Congress during the certification of the Electoral College results of the presidential election.
“The unprecedented and disturbing events yesterday in our nation’s capital are cause for ongoing concern and Pennsylvania is prepared to assist as needed in securing peace and an orderly transfer of power on January 20,” Wolf said. “Our National Guard members will assist the D.C. National Guard and local civilian authorities as they work to keep the area surrounding the Capitol and other locations secure in the coming days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.”
The move to deploy the National Guard also came as calls for the removal of Trump as president, over his role in encouraging the mob, grew.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, said that Vice President Mike Pence, working with the president’s cabinet, should take action authorized under the 25th Amendment to remove the president.
“While shocking, yesterday’s events were entirely foreseeable. They were the direct result of President Trump’s lies about the integrity of our most recent election, and his frequent incitements to violence. For weeks, the President has lied about his decisive defeat, promoting wild conspiracy theories about unsubstantiated fraud and encouraging this insurrection,” Casey said. “President Trump is a threat to our domestic and national security. It is self-evident that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” he said.
Trump, for his part, on Thursday issued a statement indicating he pledges to work for an “orderly transition” as his time in office comes to an end.
The unrest at the Capitol came as Republican lawmakers unsuccessfully sought to block certification of the election results, citing claims of fraud and illegal actions by state officials.
Eight Republican members of the Pennsylvania delegation in the House objected to the certification of the state’s electoral votes. One of those lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-Snyder County, said that his objections were based on the way the Wolf Administration handled the election and the role the state Supreme Court took in changing state election law in the days leading up to the election.
“After thorough and open debate, Congress upheld its Constitutional duty and certified President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election,” Keller said in a statement provided by his office. “We will move forward as one nation and ensure the peaceful transition of power occurs as it has every four years since 1792,” he said.
The implications of the ugly turn of events this week could have long-term consequences for the future of the Republican Party, said Chris Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College. With Democrats now poised to hold control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, in normal circumstances political observers would expect Republicans to have a bounce-back year in the next election, he said.
Trump-allied candidates may still be able to win primary challenges, but they may not be likely to win in contested districts now held by Democrats, that Republicans would need to retake to try to make up ground in Congress, he said.
“I’m fascinated to see what happens to the Republican Party,” he said. “How do you keep this together?”
The violence at the U.S. Capitol came a day after an ugly scene at the state Capitol in which Senate Republicans voted to strip Lt. Gov. John Fetterman of his responsibility as presiding officer of the Senate after Fetterman refused to block Sen. James Brewster, D-Allegheny County, from taking the oath of office. For a few minutes, the Senate was engulfed in chaos with Senate President Pro Tem Jake Corman, R-Centre County, overseeing the proceedings to block Brewster from taking his seat, while Fetterman stood behind Corman objecting.
Eventually, Brewster agreed to allow his fellow Democrats to take their oaths of office without him and Fetterman left the chamber.
Thursday, Fetterman joined a call with reporters to call on the Senate to allow Brewster to take his seat, despite objections by Brewster’s opponent, who argues that Allegheny County included ballots that shouldn’t have been counted.
Fetterman said the dispute in the state Senate “was a foreshadow of the chaos” in Washington and said that both incidents derived from Republicans refusing “to accept election results they don’t like.”
State. Sen. Lindsey Williams, D-Allegheny County, who was on the call with Fetterman, said that Republicans who have been promoting misinformation about the election can’t avoid accountability for the violence in Washington.
“You can’t pour gasoline, light a match and then throw the match and then walk away and say, ‘It’s not my fault,’” she said.