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Colorado political expert says US Capitol breach could have lasting impacts on democracy

Seth Masket interview with Jennifer Kovaleski.JPG
Posted at 10:01 PM, Jan 06, 2021

DENVER -- Seth Masket, a political science professor and the director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver, sat down with Denver7's Jennifer Kovaleski to talk about the unprecedented events that transpired at our nation's Capitol earlier Wednesday.

Here’s our conversation with Masket about the breach at the U.S. Capitol. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Question: How would you describe the events at the U.S. Capitol?

Answer: I mean, extraordinary. It’s hard to see it as anything other than some sort of insurrection. This was a rather staggering and very unusual moment in American history where business of government was really brought to a halt.

Q: What do you think the political implications of this could be?

A: It certainly makes President Trump look like he was inciting this violence. And it makes the members of Congress who were supportive of these objections look like they were... they were essentially complicit in it. President Trump was out there this morning in a speech, so he was certainly doing what he could to encourage this.

Q: What are your thoughts about the calls by Democratic lawmakers for Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment?

A: For the most part, the 25th Amendment was really not designed for this sort of thing. The 25th Amendment is largely for a situation where the president is essentially unconscious or unresponsive and simply cannot execute the job. But I think that idea is being taken a lot more seriously after today’s events.

Q: What would have to happen to invoke the 25th Amendment?

A: The Vice President and a majority of the cabinet would need to sign a document saying that they are calling on the president to step down. I don’t know how likely this is to happen. The cabinet still consists of people who are very loyal to Donald Trump.

Q: Could this have a lasting impact on our democracy?

A: It certainly could. For one thing, there’s the security matter. When there have been violent attacks on the U.S., we’ve often seen security ramped up in those places, streets get closed off, barriers get put up, and often remain – basically people’s access to these buildings becomes a little more restricted. I also think we’ll probably see people taking what you might call white supremacist violence or domestic terrorism a lot more seriously.