Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday stressed a need for President Donald Trump's removal from office, saying that failing to hold him accountable for Wednesday's violent attack on the Capitol could ensure "it will happen again."
Speaking with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week," the New York Democrat said that ensuring Trump's ouster was a "top priority" and that House leadership must schedule impeachment.
The president poses "a clear and present danger not just to the United States Congress but frankly to the country," said Ocasio-Cortez. In addition to removing Trump from the Oval Office, lawmakers must ensure he can neither run for office again nor issue a self-pardon, she said.
Asked her response to a letter sent Saturday to President-elect Joe Biden from a group of seven House Republicans urging him help stop impeachment, calling it "as unnecessary as it is inflammatory," Ocasio-Cortez was clear she views the situation quite differently.
"What happened on Wednesday was insurrection against the United States," she said. Referencing Republicans' framing of the letter as being "in the spirit of healing," Ocasio-Cortez said that "the process of healing... requires accountability."
"So if we allow insurrection against the United States with impunity, with no accountability, we are inviting it to happen again," she said. Ocasio-Cortez emphasized that lives were at risk during the armed siege, telling Stephanopoulos, "We came close to half of the House nearly dying on Wednesday."
"If another head of state came in and ordered an attack on the United States Congress, would we say that that should not be prosecuted? Would we say there should be absolutely no response to that? No," she said.
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"It is an act of insurrection. It's an act of hostility," she continued. "And we must have accountability, because without it it will happen again."
Watch the full interview below:
The interview came after a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues that it was "absolutely essential that those who perpetrated the assault on our democracy be held accountable. There must be a recognition that this desecration was instigated by the president."
The dear colleague letter, released late Saturday, does not specifically mention impeachment, but references "parliamentary and constitutional options available to us" she's discussed with lawyers. "I urge you to be prepared to return to Washington this week," Pelosi added.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said Sunday that an impeachment resolution he drafted along with Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) has 195 co-sponsors. It will be introduced in the House Monday at a pro-forma session, he said.
With a mere 11 days left in his term, the prospect of Trump's removal through impeachment is dim, as Politico noted Saturday. "The Senate likely wouldn't even begin Trump's impeachment trial until after Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20," the outlet reported. "Even then, it's not clear if any Senate Republicans would join with Democrats to convict Trump."