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Jay Jacobs

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OpEd: After Riot and Biden Vote, The New York Foul Four Need To Resign

new york foul four
A mob of supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump are tear gassed as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. Picture taken January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis

By Jay S. Jacobs, Chairman, New York State Democrats

As the New York State Democratic Chairman, there are many who will immediately discount my words as “political.”  Wednesday’s insurrection and riot, for me and most Americans, was a defining moment for our country. It was a moment of clarity. There is nothing more important to me than this country. My family comes second, my party a distant third.

Without this country, I wouldn’t have a family. My father’s ancestors emigrated in the 1840s in search of a better life. My mother fled Nazi Germany in 1939 in order to save her life. The democracy they were drawn to, imperfect as it is, created everything we hold dear. And, at our end of the bargain, as citizens of a democracy, is that we accept the results of free and fair elections whether we like them or not.

For the attack on our democracy, the president needs to be impeached and removed from office. I have also called for the resignation of the four members of Congress from New York State who voted against the certification of the electoral college on Wednesday – even after the violent insurrection that threatened their lives, the lives of their colleagues, the lives of capitol police officers, and the future of our democracy.

The president, predicated on the clear lie of a stolen election, incited his adherents to come to Washington and then march on the Capitol with the malicious intent of stopping the constitutionally mandated count of the electoral votes. He wanted to overturn the election.  He knew there was no massive fraud and no credibility to his claims. And so did the New York Foul Four: Lee Zeldin, Nicole Malliatokis, Elise Stefanik, and Chris Jacobs (no relation, thank God) that supported and propagated that lie. Their fear of Trump’s base led them to put ambition and opportunism above our democracy and our country.

Yet as bad as their support of this lie was, I don’t call for their resignations because their personal ambitions and political opportunism got the better of them. History is replete with examples of failed politicians who succumbed to the same temptations and yet continued in service to their constituents.

The New York Foul Four, as well as all of their Congressional colleagues who cast that same vote, need to resign because after seeing what occurred in their House – in OUR House – after hearing the president’s exhortations to the mob and after it was clear that those lies were the cause of an insurrection which resulted in the desecration of our Capitol, the death of protestors and police officers, and an attack on our Democracy, they continued forward. This was a violent coup attempt. Even though the mob chanted “Hang Mike Pence” as they violently occupied the Senate Chamber, these members saw nothing wrong with voting in support of that lie and the mob’s insurrection. Even recently defeated Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, who had similarly vowed to oppose certification, found the day’s events too odious to sustain her previous position. She had the courage to do the right thing. Zeldin, Malliatokis, Stefanik, and Jacobs found no such courage.

The NY Foul Four chose to cast their lot with the insurrection they were complicit in fomenting and they now own the sad consequences of their unpatriotic judgment. People died because of that insurrection – now two police officers among them. They own that.  You are either FOR democracy or against it.  There is no middle ground.

While I would always favor a Democrat in their seats, unlike them, I fully respect the rights of the voters in their districts, if they choose, to be represented by a Republican. It just should not be THOSE Republicans. By their actions, they have violated their oath of office, stained both the American Republic they serve and the name of the party on whose ticket they ran. The Republican Party has no shortage of honorable, courageous, decent, patriotic Americans who can represent those districts. Unfortunately, by their vote on Wednesday, the New York Foul Four have clearly established that they are not among them.

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What Happened With Ford and Kavanaugh 36 Years Ago?

It riveting listening first to Professor Christine Blasey Ford and then Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the pair appeared before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee during eight hours of high drama on Thursday.  

After Ford’s heartfelt opening statement and testimony, there was no doubt about the truth of her allegations against Kavanaugh – until we heard from the judge with his impassioned unequivocal denial of the charges and his strong, impactful defense of his character.

As a Democrat who does not favor Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on philosophical grounds, I can sympathize with those on the Republican side who see these last-minute allegations as just part of the opposition’s strategy to sandbag a nomination on the cusp of confirmation. The timing of the release of Professor Ford’s allegations has, unfortunately, legitimately tainted the motivations behind the allegation.

As we saw during the hearing, Republicans (and Kavanaugh) have grasped onto the timing of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and the leak of Ford’s letter to make process the issue – not the substance and merits of Professor Ford’s actual allegation. As Lindsay Graham so theatrically put it: this is about whether you support “despicable” political tactics, not whether you believe Professor Ford or Judge Kavanaugh.

But whom should we believe? What did happen on that summer night in 1982? Even with an FBI investigation there may still be doubts.

Watching the entirety of Ford’s and Kavanaugh’s appearances before the committee, several things seem most likely to happened. First, in spite of the Republican’s best efforts to sympathize with Ford while casting doubt on her memory of the details of a night 36 years ago, anyone who has been through any trauma knows that the relevant details are, in fact, sealed into one’s memory.  

It defies credulity to assume that Professor Ford would just make this story up and she simply knows too many of the players in young Brett Kavanaugh’s world to be confusing her facts and her assailant’s identity. Bottom line: Ford’s telling the truth.

So what about Kavanaugh? It is likely that back in his High School, College and Law School days there were actually two Brett Kavanaughs. Almost all of the time there was the nice, gentlemanly, somewhat shy, athletic Brett who friends and colleagues so admired and enjoyed the company of.  

But, ever so often, after those “too many beers” that were referred to multiple times in testimony, a meaner, more cocky, brutish, bullying Brett would appear. It is that Brett that several friends and roommates have referenced in reported accounts. It is that nasty, drunk Brett who, with his friend, Mark Judge, was likely in that room with Christine Blasey that summer night back in 1982. And it was that Brett, who, as he often did, even with his weak stomach, drank way too much only to wake up the next morning unaware of what had transpired the night before.

In some sense, I guess, Kavanaugh is right when he alleges that it must be a case of mistaken identity. For the Brett Kavanaugh who has emerged in life and has built a stellar professional reputation and a beautiful family resembles nothing like the ugly drunk Brett who was probably put to sleep for good so many years ago.   

We did get a taste of that alternate Brett during question and answer phase of the hearings with some of his nasty, snarky, even dismissive responses. We did get a glimpse of that nastier Brett which, of course, still resides deep down in his personality, a side which, thankfully, he has so long ago tried to bury.  

I don’t doubt that he does not remember the night that Professor Ford describes. I think that he actually believes that he wasn’t there that night and that he has been wronged. He certainly wants to believe it. But I think even Brett Kavanaugh has his doubts.

Never mind his clear opposition to subjecting the question to an FBI investigation, it was his response, at the very end of the day, to a question from U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as to whether he had watched Professor Ford’s testimony on television earlier in the day that was most telling: “No I did not.”

Brett Kavanaugh did not want risk facing an ugly past that he knows might have been true but he just, honestly, cannot remember – and clearly, does not want to.

Jay Jacobs is the Nassau County Democratic Chairman, Democratic National Committee Member At-Large and a former New York State Democratic Chairman.