College, professors condemn pro-Trump insurrection in Washington

by Kyle Mullins | 1/7/21 2:15am

by Bruno Korbar / The Dartmouth

Members of the Dartmouth community, including College President Phil Hanlon, professors and concerned students, have condemned Wednesday’s violent insurrection in Washington, D.C., in which a mob demanding the overturning of President Donald Trump’s November election loss stormed the Capitol during the certification of electoral votes.

Hanlon slammed the events in the Capitol — which resulted in at least four deaths, the evacuation of legislators, reporters and staff and damage to the centuries-old building — as “lawlessness” and a threat to democracy in a campus-wide email sent Wednesday night.

“I condemn the violent disruption of the democratic process,” Hanlon wrote. “This unprecedented and reprehensible attack on the peaceful transfer of power undermines the foundation of our government and the verified results of our federal election.”

The breach of the Capitol took place shortly after Trump gave a speech near the White House, encouraging his supporters to “take back our country” and urging them to march to the Capitol to “cheer on” Republicans in Congress who planned to object to the certification of several states’ electoral votes. 

An open letter from political scientists, co-authored by Dartmouth government professors John Carey and Brendan Nyhan, argued that this speech, as well as Trump’s repeated, baseless insistence that the election had been fraudulent, amounted to inciting the violence that followed. Circulated online Wednesday evening and signed by over a thousand academics from across the country as of Thursday morning, the letter calls for Trump’s immediate removal from office either through impeachment and removal by Congress or via the 25th Amendment, which allows the Cabinet to temporarily remove a president.

“If we think about all the democratic norms that might be violated, the highest one of all is losers consent to losing,” Carey said. “There’s no democracy without that. What we’ve seen since the election is no loser’s consent on the part of the president and no universal condemnation of that.”

Government professor Yusaku Horiuchi, a signatory of the letter, wrote in an email statement that he was concerned about the “significant international consequences” of the day’s events, predicting that allies of the United States, such as Australia, the United Kingdom and Japan, would see the U.S. as less reliable or trustworthy.  

“I believe that the news today has significant impacts on the images of, and attitudes toward, the U.S. among citizens worldwide,” Horiuchi wrote. 

Several international leaders condemned the violence on Wednesday, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who both called for a peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden. 

Dartmouth Democrats president Miles Brown ’23 agreed with Carey and Horiuchi that Trump deserves blame for the insurrection and should be removed from office. 

“I don’t believe that there’s time for process or impeachment,” Brown said, explaining his support for invoking the 25th Amendment. “It’s clear right now at this moment that our president is unfit to serve, and I believe his advisors and the people surrounding him know that to be true.”

The College Republicans did not immediately respond to a request for comment by press time.

The College canceled Wednesday’s scheduled weekly “Community Conversations,” citing the “stunning” scenes of chaos and violence in Washington. In a brief video posted to the College’s website, Provost Joseph Helble said that the academic work at Dartmouth “has never been more important to our students and to the country.” The livestream may be rescheduled for Thursday or Friday, he added.

“My initial reaction is that this is unjustifiable, it’s unprecedented and no one is going to stand behind him. I hope I’m not disappointed this time.”

New Hampshire’s senators and two representatives each released statements confirming their safety, condemning the violence and committing to resuming the electoral vote certification. The statement from Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H., whose district contains Hanover and the Upper Valley, said that Trump and his allies in Congress “incited” the riot. 

“The President has fanned the flames of violence for months,” Kuster’s statement said. “This is unacceptable, it is un-American, and it has no place in our nation.” 

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, weighed in on Twitter, calling the events “chaos and violence,” but did not explicitly blame the president. 

Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, also a Republican, was more direct in his condemnation of Trump, calling his actions an “attack” on “the fabric of our democracy and the principles of our republic” and demanding his resignation or removal. 

As of Wednesday evening, the Capitol had been cleared of demonstrators and Congress had resumed the counting of electoral votes. Several lawmakers who had previously said they would object to the certifications, including Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., James Lankford, R-Okla., and Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., instead voted to uphold them. Around midnight, New Hampshire’s four electoral votes were certified for Biden without objection from members of the House or Senate. 

Carey said that while he had been wrong numerous times over the past four years about which norm, violation or scandal would bring down the Trump presidency, this time, he believes, is truly different. 

“My initial reaction is that this is unjustifiable, it’s unprecedented and no one is going to stand behind him,” he said. “I hope I’m not disappointed this time.”