By Michelle Ruiz
Shortly before domestic terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in an attack that left five people dead, Sen. Amy Klobuchar was speaking on the Senate floor about the precariousness of democracy. The Senate had gathered to certify President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory, but her Republican colleague Sen. Ted Cruz had just baselessly objected to Arizona's certified votes, echoing President Trump's bogus claims of election fraud. Klobuchar took direct aim at Cruz multiple times in her speech, before appealing to the body's collective calling.
“Senators have long believed that they should not mess around with the will of the people,” Klobuchar said. "Our cause—despite our political differences—is to preserve our American democracy...because, as someone once said long ago, ‘It’s a republic, if you can keep it.’”
Klobuchar's speech became all-too-prescient minutes later, when she and her Senate colleagues were evacuated as Trump-incited rioters breached the Capitol. Now, Klobuchar, as the soon-to-be Chair of the Senate Rules Committee, is looking ahead to an investigation into the attack, and her role in planning Biden's inauguration. Vogue spoke with her by phone late Friday.
First of all, how are you doing after what you went through on Wednesday?
Oh, I'm fine. What I was most worried about was our democracy and the American people, seeing this angry mob invade our Capitol, and, really, assault our democracy. We've been putting out warning signs about this for a while. I kept trying to emphasize how important it was to have this ceremony, which usually goes along with no fanfare, but it's the Congress's blessing on a president, no matter if they voted for them or not, and this time we had a bunch of people who were just refusing to acknowledge the fact that the President of the United States was not a dictator.
For [Trump] himself to encourage this mob to go down the mall and enter the Capitol was really that ultimate moment of going after the other branches of government. He's gone after the judges. Now he's trying to undermine the Congress, literally, with violence. To me, if people didn't cherish a peaceful transition of power before, they do now. I think they will watch the inauguration and know that we can't take anything for granted.
We know now that President Trump is not going to attend. How do you feel about that decision?
It gives the committee an extra chair. You know—I'm glad he's not going to be there. That is not what that day is about to me.
What do you think is the best course of action regarding President Trump? Speaker Pelosi is saying that if the 25th Amendment is not invoked to remove him, the House will move to impeach him again. Do you support that?
Well, I supported impeachment before. I think he should resign. I think he should leave. We have to put the pressure on...because you just don't know what he's going to do any day. But my role right now is to ensure that the inauguration is safe, and we believe it will be, and to continue to a new administration.
You mentioned Sen. Cruz multiple times in your speech just before the attack. I see colleagues like Sen. Chris Coons calling on him to resign. Do you think he should resign?
Right now, my focus is on helping Joe Biden. It's about keeping our Capitol safe, and it's about bringing to justice the people that committed this violence. I think that both Senator [Josh] Hawley and Senator Cruz have been severely damaged within their own party. I know this from talking to other Republicans. Look at how they received no votes and no support.
How do you go forward now, with the new Biden administration, to repair, both after the attack and the past four years of trauma under Trump? What is your focus as we move into this next phase?
We're going to be investigating through the Homeland Security Committee, and my committee, the Rules Committee is going to get to the bottom of everything that has happened. I think that the first part of this is bringing people to justice, bringing charges against people that perpetrated these violent crimes. To brush the glass under the door and just fix every window—which of course needs to be done—without acknowledging what happened here would be a huge mistake. Part of healing is accountability. The second thing is, what I'm going to do and Joe Biden's going to do, is end the grim era of demonization. For people who actually may have supported Trump, but want to make this country a better place, it's time to work as a team and unite, because not everyone was in the angry mob that mobbed the Capitol, right? We have to remember that—even if they don't agree with us on everything. We had a number of Republicans who sided with us on acknowledging and congratulating Joe Biden on being president. Vaccine distribution...bringing our economy back...it's going to get done faster and better if we can work together.
A lot of the public faith has been lost because of the Trump era. We have our work cut out for us—I know that—but I think that having a forward-looking agenda instead of having a president that wakes up every morning and says, “How can I get revenge against someone I hate?” and instead says, “How many cases of coronavirus are there in Duluth, Minnesota today,” that would be a big improvement.
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