Rep. Albio Sires slammed President Donald Trump following reports his pardon power is being used for financial gain by those with close ties to the President. Sires, a Democrat, represents the 8th Congressional District of New Jersey, including most of Hudson County.
Trump pardoned over 100 people on his last day in office, and his associates have allegedly collected thousands of dollars from those lobbying for a pardon.
“In the final days of a presidency tainted by abuses of power for personal and financial gain, it is not surprising that allies of the President have reportedly received tens of thousands of dollars to lobby the President for clemency,” Sires said. “If there has been one guiding principle of President Trump’s time in office it has been that the President acts in his own best interest, not in the best interest of our nation.”
He continued: “Instead of upholding our justice system, the President corrupted the pardon power by commuting sentences and pardoning multiple people who lied during investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as Republican House members who were sentenced for corruption. He has frequently thrown around pre-emptive pardons for his family members as well as for himself, an unprecedented move that would harm our democratic institutions and the rule of law.”
As President Trump’s term draws to a close, Sires said he is highly concerned about “further corruption and abuses of power” in the final hours. Even after Trump has left office, Sires said he will work with his colleagues to protect our democracy and address abuses of the pardon power.
Insurrection at the Capitol
Amid Trump’s incitement of an insurrection to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential Election in his favor, Sires voted in favor of invoking the 25th Amendment against Trump and also voted in favor of his impeachment. Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6 during a joint session of Congress, in an attempt to prevent the counting and certification of the Electoral College votes declaring then President-Elect Joe Biden the winner.
Sires was in the Capitol during the insurrection, crediting Capitol Police for his and his staff’s safety.
“The world was watching as a sitting American president attempted to take down democracy by inciting chaos and violence, because he cannot accept that he lost an election,” Sires tweeted on Jan. 6. “The world was watching the symbol of democracy, our country’s Capitol, as insurrectionists stormed the building.”
He continued: “We are fortunate that after four years President Trump has not succeeded in taking down our institutions of democracy, but he has come precipitously close.”
Recalling his experience during the insurrection via Twitter on Jan. 13, Sires said he could feel the vibrations as the mob pounded on the doors and walls of the House Chamber, “screaming for the heads of those who sought to uphold the rule of law.”
Sires continued: “I saw things I never in a million years would have expected to see in the Capitol. I saw an armed standoff as officers barred doors with shattered windows to give people on the Floor time to get out. I saw members helping each other put on escape hoods because gas had been deployed in the Rotunda. I saw Capitol police crushed under a mob of hatred and vitriol.”
“None of this had to happen,” Sires said. “President Trump could have put the nation, and our democratic institutions, over his own pride and greed. He chose not to. He refused to disavow white supremacy and right-wing hate groups, instead telling them to stand by. Immediately before the traumatic events of January 6th, he actively incited violence, whipped up hatred, and directed a mob to the Capitol.”
Sires warned, hours after the insurrection: “There must be legal consequences for what happened.”
On Jan. 13, Sires voted in favor of a resolution that called on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to declare Trump incapable of executing his duties of office following the insurrection. However, the vote did not matter because just hours prior, Pence indicated he would not invoke the 25th Amendment.
Later in the day, Sires voted in favor of impeaching Trump for inciting insurrection against the government of the United States.
“The words and subsequent actions of the President over the past week have indicated that he refuses to take responsibility for his role in the attack on our nation’s Capitol and the Legislative Branch,” Sires said. “He has severely undermined our country’s standing around the world and abdicated his authority to lead the United States. The bipartisan effort to impeach the President is not the result of seeking further discord, but of holding accountable a man who has actively worked against the interests of American democracy by sowing doubts about the legitimate outcome of an election he lost, and inciting a riotous mob to storm the Capitol and prevent Congress from formally confirming the 2020 election outcome.”
He continued: “Some of my Republican colleagues have called for unity by letting the President get away with his crimes. I want our country to unify as well, and the best way to ensure that outcome is for those who sought to bring down our democratic institutions to answer for their crimes. My vote to impeach the President for a second time is not one taken with joy, but with a solemn obligation to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution; that is what my colleagues and I did today.”
Sires was sworn in to the 117th Congress on Jan. 3.
“I remain committed to advocating for the priorities of our communities and working to deliver the pandemic relief that is so desperately needed,” Sires said. “I welcome the opportunity to work with Speaker Pelosi and the incoming Biden-Harris Administration to advance policies that seek to move our health care, infrastructure, and economy forward, and heal the divisions that have become so apparent the last four years.”
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.