By Tim Gardner
Residents here and others with ties to the North Carolina High Country and political observers have mixed views concerning Democrat Joe Biden being inaugurated as our country’s next president on January 20th as well as about related topics. Several individuals were interviewed for their comments about those topics and one entity released a statement about such.
Topics included in their quotes include: 1) Possible election fraud; 2) The attack (trespassing, looting and other violence) on The Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6th to protest certification of the Electoral College count providing Biden’s win; and 3) Current Republican President Donald Trump’s possible removal from office through the 25th Amendment or impeachment.
Trump is the first president to lose a re-election bid in almost 30 years. He has attributed his defeat to widespread voter fraud, although the consensus of nonpartisan election officials, many top-ranking Republicans and even Trump’s Attorney General that there was none. Despite these allegations from the Trump campaign and the current president himself that Democrats stole the election, Biden received 81,283,495 votes to Trump’s 74,223,755, according to Associated Press totals. Of the more than 50 lawsuits the president and his allies have filed challenging these election results, almost all have been dismissed or dropped. Trump also has had lawsuits rejected by the United State Supreme Court.
Biden celebrated the Electoral College vote on December 14, 2020, confirming his victory over Trump in last November’s (3rd) election although Trump is yet to concede that he lost.
Thanks to victories in key swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia, Biden earned 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232, and that total was upheld after electors cast their ballots.
Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which was ratified in 1967, addresses the involuntary removal of a president from office. It has never been invoked. It requires that the vice president (Mike Pence), plus eight heads of executive departments [to] send a letter in which they say the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office.”
There are currently a total of 15 heads of executive departments — comprising Cabinet secretaries and a few other top officials — so eight members would constitute a majority.
Pence, who refused Trump’s mandate that he declare the Electoral College results invalid, announced January 12th that he would not seek the 25th Amendment. Congress, with a majority of Democrats is expected to proceed with impeachment proceedings today (January 13th). If they succeed, Trump will be the only president ever impeached by Congress a second time. Some Republican lawmakers have said they will join the Democrats efforts for impeachment.
Trump was impeached by the Democrat majority House of Representatives (Congress) on December 18, 2019. The House adopted two articles of impeachment against Trump: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Republican-majority Senate acquitted Trump of these charges on February 5, 2020.
Trump’s impeachment came after a formal House inquiry alleged that he had solicited foreign interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election to help his re-election bid, and then obstructed the inquiry itself by telling his administration officials to ignore subpoenas for documents and testimony.
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram suspended Trump from making any posts after the president tweeted his support for the violent mob that descended on The Capitol. And on January 12, YouTube has become the latest social network to suspend President Trump. The Google-owned service has prevented his account from uploading new videos or live-streaming material for a minimum of seven days, and has said it may extend the period. The firm said the channel had broken its rules over what it indicated was Trump’s incitement of violence at The Capitol.
Some lawmakers have said they think Trump should be prosecuted by the courts for the attack on The Capitol that left several dead and others hurt.
Now to the comments from High Country residents or those with ties to the area. The first two listed providing quotes were interviewed before the attacks at The Capitol and before the 25th Amendment and consideration for immediate impeachment, so theirs will not include their thoughts about those happenings. The others were interviewed after those attacks and the 25th Amendment and possible impeachment, so their comments about such may be included in this story.
Meredith Manaraze said she voted for Trump and would be disappointed if Biden occupies the Oval Office.
“Donald Trump is the ideal man to lead this country like American is supposed to be lead,” she commented. “I can offer multiple prophecies about when he is elected again. In fact, one said that he would receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost in his second term. I believe without a shadow of a doubt that God put him in the White House back in 2016.
“And I think despite the election giving Biden the win, Trump will prove beyond any doubt that this election was fraudulent and votes were stolen from him. And as a result, God will again put him The White House as our President—even if it’s after Biden is sworn in. Trump is a wonderful Christian, he’s prolife, he backs the second amendment, he cuts taxes, he believes in freedom, and I could go on and on.”
Caeley Mayo said she was surprised, but elated with Biden’s win over Trump.
“I’m grateful that Joe Biden won, although it’s something I didn’t expect,” she shared, “While I voted for Biden, I wasn’t sure we could break through the hatred that’s been brought out the past four years with Trump’s administration. It’s unfortunate that the claims of election fraud had to be brought up, even when Biden had been polling ahead for weeks. I think Trump’s supporters can’t accept the fact that he lost, so they’ve been dragging things out.”
Mayo said she believes Biden will be inaugurated on January 20 and that Trump can’t legally delay or ultimately reverse the process through his lawsuits maintaining that he was cheated out of being re-elected.
“I think Biden will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021. The data all points to Biden having won this election fairly and the transition process will go as it should. I expect there to be more lawsuits from Trump (maybe even after Biden is sworn in), but I expect all to be dismissed like all the others have.”
Mayo added that Trump and others top-ranking GOP officials who have not acknowledged Biden’s win are damaging the nation in a horrid manner by not doing so.
“I absolutely think that the officials who aren’t acknowledging the win are hurting and undermining the electoral process. Their loyalties are to Trump, not the country, and that’s been exposed.”
Watauga County Republican Party Chairperson Ann-Marie Yates offered the following comments about Biden’s win over Trump and Trump’s election fraud claims: “Many good people worked hard to get Conservatives elected. Therefore, it is hard to accept that a candidate (Biden) with obvious flaws could win. This is even harder to accept when questions still loom over this election–questions that must be answered in order to restore unity in this country going forward.”
When asked if she thinks the election fraud claims will be proven true and that Trump will ultimately return to the presidency this year even after Biden is inaugurated, Yates replied: “It is not a matter of the claims being proven true, but to have questions… that should disturb every American, be cleared up and if necessary, laws be strengthened to protect the integrity of elections going forward. When there are more votes cast in a state than voters on the rolls, people become suspicious of the process.
“Pennsylvania among other states’ Board of Elections circumvented state legislatures to corrupt fair elections. One person; one vote is a bedrock of our system of government as much as the peaceful transfer of power. If President-Elect Biden is sincere about unity, he must seek answers for all Americans.”
Yates condemned the attack on The Capitol, stating: “Most people attending this week’s event were there for a peaceful protest. While violence is never a solution, it would have been helpful for lawmakers to take a pause and answer questions of fraud as suggested by (Republican) Senator Ted Cruz.
“I would hope that the riots of this past summer were characterized with the same brush. After all, an unarmed service member was shot and killed.”
Yates added that she thinks Trump may retain a prominent role in politics even if he does not return to the presidency from his election fraud claims and possibly run again for President in 2024.
“President Trump positioned our country to have the best economy for many people groups across this country in the era of record keeping,” Yates declared. “I fully expect to see President Trump (active in politics) in the future. However, his success depends on his actions going forward. Above all else, I pray for the continued prosperity of all Americans and that God continues His favor on these United States.”
The Watauga County Democratic Party released a statement about the election and related happenings. Excerpts include: “We are very excited that President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will begin their administrations on January 20th. Joe Biden is experienced, fair-minded, honest and, even more important, a kind and generous man who has demonstrated these qualities all his life. He recognizes and welcomes the diversity of our country and will hopefully help us out of COVID-19 and associated economic issues. Most importantly, he believes in the hopes and dreams of working people and the great challenges they face.
“Every vote has been counted, repeatedly. The President’s fraud claims have been deemed bogus by both Republicans and Democrats alike. (The Capitol attack) is a significant and tragic occurrence, and will go down in history as such. Our hearts go out to the people who lost their lives and to their families.
“We believe in democracy for all regardless of political affiliation or race, and we believe those who do not acknowledge the winner the people of our nation have chosen, do not believe in democracy and obviously prefer a more authoritarian government—where we the people’s decisions don’t really matter.
“He (Trump) is not fit to be President. He may be in jail by 2024, which would make running for President again pretty challenging.”
Dalton George attributed Biden’s win over Trump to the latter defeating himself with his comments and actions.
“Biden’s win over Trump shows an increasing exhaustion with Trump politics,” said George. “The consistent headline grabbing, most always negative, has brought fatigue and mistrust to a lot of voters looking for a return to the politics of the pre-Trump era. And as for Trump’s election fraud claims, they’re irresponsible and unbecoming of any elected official.”
George then commented about the attack on The Capitol Building:
“I am disgusted, plain and simple. There must be accountability at all levels, not just for those who perpetrated the attack, but for the elected officials who pushed the baseless claims that made it possible. This was a multi-faceted attack on our democracy. It was fanned by our president and the senators and representatives who follow him without question.”
George added that he favors impeachment or prosecution for Trump.
“Impeachment and prosecution should be an option,” he declared. “We have not had an attack on our Capitol since the British marched into D.C. during the War of 1812. All Americans who consider what happened as excusable must open their eyes. Any leader who makes an attack like this possible must be held accountable.
“It is very likely that our Federal courts and The State of New York will seek to prosecute Trump. While I do not know what will come of it, I expect Trump and other figures in his administration to go to trial for some of their actions. But I feel Trump will remain in the public eye as long as a portion of America encourages him and his inexcusable behavior. A Trump run in 2024, though possible, seems unlikely, especially with the number of Republicans breaking with him after the events of January 6th.”
George concluded by sharing his opinions that Biden’s inauguration will happen peacefully.
“While I do expect some minor counter protests, I think that the inauguration will be much more normal and similar to those in the past,” George stated. “The events of the January 6th show that we need better security and that we must take securing the inauguration seriously. We must look at our institution policing and make sure it serves protections for all, and not for the few.”
Tim Singleton said he supports Trump and “believes there might have been election fraud.” But he noted that the riot and attack on The Capitol, law enforcement officers and the threats and related events are “anything but what America is all about “and that those involved “should be prosecuted.”
Singleton concluded by declaring the ultimate healing for our country will “only come from God” and that “We all should pray to Him to make us what we should be as citizens and to help us conduct ourselves in a loving manner toward others.”