Vermont's most prominent politicians are calling for the resignation or removal from office of President Donald Trump, following Wednesday's assault on the U.S. Capitol—which the president's critics insist was the result of his repeated false claims the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, each tweeted Thursday that Trump should leave office or be removed. Sanders even said the president must go before he incites more violence.
Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, was among the first from his party to call for the president to step down or be removed by his cabinet members or by an act of Congress. That call came Wednesday.
Scott's position drew praise from Democrats Beth Pearce, the state treasurer, and Jim Condos, the secretary of state, ahead of Thursday's swearing-in of elected officials.
More on the Capitol Riots
"I was shocked to see this attack on the fundamental principles of our Republic," Scott said Thursday afternoon in a video message streamed to members of the Vermont Legislature as they begin their work for the session.
Scott decried the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol by people angry the president is leaving office.
"These actions were not patriotic, and these people are not patriots," Trump said of the destructive intruders in the Capitol.
Scott has long criticized Donald Trump, even before he became president. In 2016, Scott labeled Trump just way too divisive to support—preferring John Kasich in the primary and writing in former Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, another Republican, in the general election.
In 2020, Scott then crossed party lines to vote for Joe Biden, telling reporters on Election Day it was the first time he ever voted for a Democrat for president.
"The fact these flames of insurrection were lit by the president of the United States will remembered as one of the darkest chapters in our nation's history," Scott said Thursday about Wednesday's attack on the U.S. House and Senate.
Several prominent Vermont Democrats said Thursday they share Scott's view that the president must go.
"Trump has gone too far," Leahy said in an interview with NECN and NBC10 Boston's Vermont affiliate, NBC 5 News. "To incite a riot? President Trump should step down."
Molly Gray, after her swearing-in as lieutenant governor, praised the governor for his call for the president to leave office.
In Vermont, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately, and currently are from different parties—though have vowed to work closely on a number of priorities to benefit the state in its recovery from COVID-19.
"I think we're in a solemn moment but also a moment where our eyes need to be wide open to how fragile democracy can be," Lt. Gov. Gray observed.
"We shouldn't try to normalize it and say, 'That's Trump being Trump,'" added T.J. Donovan, a Democrat who serves as Vermont's attorney general. "This was an insurrection, an attempted coup. I think he's clearly unfit to serve out the remaining 13 days of his office."
David Zuckerman, a former lieutenant governor who unsuccessfully ran for governor against Scott as a Progressive and a Democrat in November 2020, now praises his former Republican opponent for standing up for a peaceful democracy.
"That's what we have in this country, or had, and I hope we return to it again," Zuckerman said, adding that if you lose an election, you lose—fair and square.
The governor said this ugly chapter shows clearly that politicians need to work toward healing and consensus building, adding he's confident Vermont leaders can deliver on that.