Alex Padilla, California's Secretary of State who is set to take over for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the U.S. Senate, says he supports holding President Donald Trump and colleagues such as Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley responsible for the violence in Washington, D.C.
Speaking Monday on CapRadio's Insight, Padilla said he wanted to see Trump held accountable after five people were killed when a mob of his supporters breached the U.S. Capitol Wednesday.
"Every day that Trump remains in office, he's a clear and present danger to the nation and to our security,” Padilla said. "Last Wednesday should have removed any question about it for anybody who refused to believe."
Padilla will be sworn in soon after Harris and President-elect Joe Biden are inaugurated Jan. 20. He said he fully supports approving $2,000 stimulus checks for Americans if the issue comes up for a vote in the Senate.
"I would vote yes on that immediately," Padilla said. "But also let's be clear about this, these $2,000 checks are not stimulus checks. These are survival checks."
On calls to remove President Trump from office before Jan. 20
I think Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi has been firm and absolutely clear: Either [Vice President] Mike Pence has the courage to invoke the 25th Amendment and the Cabinet follows through or short of that, Congress needs to act by way of impeachment. Every day that Trump remains in office, he's a clear and present danger to the nation and to our security. Last Wednesday should have removed any question about it for anybody who refused to believe.
On social media companies banning Trump from platforms
It's in a way sad that it's taken the incidents of last Wednesday to finally shed the level of attention and concern on Trump's danger that many communities have felt for many years. We can go back to how Muslims felt the first week of Trump being in office when he invoked the ban and the messaging around his original travel ban. You can talk to communities of color both before and after Charlottesville and ask whether people have felt in danger because Trump was abusing power and abusing his microphones. Talk to the victims and the families of the victims, not just in El Paso, but in Gilroy, [about] how Latinos and other immigrant communities have felt in danger under the Trump presidency. If it's finally taken violence in our nation's capital, not on the doorstep of Congress but inside the chambers of Congress, it's about time.
On holding those who incited and participated in the Jan. 6 riot accountable
There must be accountability. I don't want folks to get caught up in the, well, there's only a few days left of the Trump administration, he'll be gone soon enough. No, everybody responsible must be held accountable because nobody is above the law. So I agree, there must be full investigations. There must be prosecutions to the full extent of the law. This is one area where technology may be on our side, tons of video online and on social media, tons of pictures. Law enforcement can certainly trace all this to identify individuals and press charges.
I want to make another thing very clear. These were not protesters. These were not even folks that were rioting. This was an insurrection. This was a rebellion. And, yes, it was instigated and enabled by Trump and whoever has been enabling Trump for the last four-plus years …
… There's conversations going on about whether these individuals deserve to stay in office … Sen. Hawley, for example, Sen. Cruz, for example, have they violated their oath of office? That needs to be aired out because I think there's a compelling case to be made. So it's not just a slap on the wrist, not just a censure and sweep it under the rug. I think there has to be significant, meaningful consequences.
On the far-right movement that has grown during the Trump administration
I think it sadly is far more systemic, I'll point to two more recent indicators of that. If you look at the elections world, the debate in recent years of voting rights vs. voter suppression, if you understand our nation's history, voter suppression is rooted in white supremacy. So the organizing and the acting out of white supremacists, violent and otherwise, it's nothing new. It is more pervasive than we would like to think and it's going to take a concerted effort to really get to the root cause of this and lead our nation to the more perfect union that the Founding Fathers envisioned. Other significant reminders of the last 12 months, look at last summer. George Floyd was not the first person of color to lose his or her life by excessive use of force by law enforcement. And what transpired last summer, it was the nation's most recent civil rights movement, calling for an end to systemic racism and institutionalized discrimination in all its forms. It's the criminal justice system. It's education. It's in access to health care. It's in economic opportunity. It is so pervasive. And frankly, that's what fuels my desire to serve. It's not just addressing policy for policy sake, but looking at everything through the equity lens, if we are indeed a land of opportunity where all men and women are created equal.
On some Republican lawmakers coming out against Trump and accepting the election results after the Capitol riot
I am encouraged. I'm not going to lie, I still feel the 'What took you so long?' sentiment given the blatant danger and damage done by the Trump administration of the last four years. If it took the insurrection at the Capitol to finally convince a handful of Senate Republicans that enough was enough and to change their mind in terms of challenging the lawful results of the election, then maybe that's a sign of progress. Maybe that's a sign of hope. But certainly sobered by the fact that the majority of House Republicans weren't even moved by the violence that we saw in Washington, D.C. last Wednesday. So it's not lost on me, we have a lot of work to do.
On the potential for $2,000 stimulus checks as the pandemic continues
I would vote yes on that immediately, but also let's be clear about this, these $2,000 checks are not stimulus checks. These are survival checks. There hasn't been significant direct assistance to struggling American families in months and months and months during the course of this pandemic. You have families that are struggling to figure out how to put food on the table, families worried about either foreclosures or evictions in huge numbers, particularly here in the state of California.
On being California’s first Latino senator
I can't answer to the thought of why it took so long, because that would be a 170-year explanation. All I can tell you is, I'm proud to be the individual who gets to make this history. It's not lost on me, not just the tremendous opportunity, but the tremendous responsibility that it is. I'll work hard to make sure I live up to that responsibility to be the best senator for all Californians. But I am eager to bring my personal experience, my life journey, the struggle and sacrifice of my parents and the millions of others like them to the deliberations of the United States Senate. It's a meaningful voice that hasn’t been heard nearly enough over the years.
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