Sen. Bennet meets mountain-town leaders, later calls for Trump’s resignation
Three days removed from Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump extremists, Sen. Michael Bennet heard updates Friday from mountain town leaders on the latest challenges brought on by the pandemic.
A panel of 12 speakers, including Aspen Skiing Co. CEO Mike Kaplan, also heard first-hand from the second-term senator about this week’s attempted coup in Washington, D.C.
Reconvening hours after the violent uproar to certify the electoral college vote was critical for the state of democracy, he said.
“This was a really, really hard week and we’ve got a hard few weeks ahead of us, but I was really — words escape me,” he said. “I could feel the institution of the Senate holding as our democracy was being threatened this week. Both Republicans and Democrats coming together to turn down Josh Haley and Ted Cruz’ antidemocratic efforts to overturn the election. And the Senate held, and that gives me real hope that we’ve got really better days ahead of us.”
Bennet was referring Congress’ rejection of attempts led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, to overturn the November presidential results on unproven allegations of widespread voter fraud and election law violations.
The panelists in the virtual call included ski-area operators, elected officeholders, and business leaders. Among the pandemic’s challenges in the mountain communities that were discussed: a small labor pool, an erosion in employee morale brought on by layoffs, furloughs and cut wages; restaurants barely squeaking by, climbing home prices stressing affordable-housing programs, inequities prevalent in underserved Latino communities, a need for more vaccinations, and trails and campgrounds being overrun in the summer, among other issues.
“And on top of everything else, mob rules is distressing, to say the least,” said David Pitcher, owner of Wolf Creek Ski Area. “And we appreciate Sen. Bennet taking the time to meet with us.”
Bennet is among the growing group of lawmakers supporting the impeachment of Trump and his removal from office through the 25th Amendment.
He didn’t address that during the panel discussion, but called for renewed allegiance to democratic principles and values.
“In the wake of all of this,” he said, “we’re going to have to think of a way to strengthen our democratic institutions at every level, not just the national level, but local also.”
Later Friday, Bennet issued a six-paragraph statement saying Wednesday was “the founders’ worst nightmare — the president of the United States inciting a mob to attack Congress and cling to power.” Swift action should start with Trump’s resignation, he said.
“Last year, I voted to remove President Trump from office for his crimes against our republic,” Bennet said. “Since then, his unconstitutional wrongdoing has only grown worse. He should resign immediately. If he does not, Vice President Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him from office. Failing that, I will support any effort to impeach the president and uphold the rule of law — including steps beyond Jan. 20, if required.”
That’s the date Democrat Joe Biden will be sworn in as America’s 46th president.
The events of this week also prompted a reaction Thursday from the Aspen School District board of education and superintendent. An email to the Aspen school community provided resources for parents with tips on discussing the recent events with their children.
The email also said the schools would be providing support for students “as well as an opportunity to express their views in safe spaces.”
“What we saw yesterday and in other violent protests this past year has been sad, terrifying and not representative of this great country,” said the statement, issued by Susan Zimet, president of the school board, and Superintendent David Baugh.
The statement also read in part: “Aspen School District respects and supports the right to demonstrate and peacefully protest. It decries the acts that occurred yesterday which led to tragic and unnecessary death in the ‘house of the people’ of our country.
“We strongly condemn all attempts to incite violence and will not tolerate acts of hate that counter our shared democratic principles. We encourage parents and guardians to discuss these events with their children to help lay the groundwork for civil discourse, respectful disagreement, and a recommitment to the principles of democracy.”
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Grand Lake is still standing one year after the East Troublesome Fire, and the town celebrated the people who helped make that happen on Saturday.