R-E-M-O-V-E was the message in lights at an impeachment eve vigil in West Hartford. mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org
R-E-M-O-V-E was the message in lights at an impeachment eve vigil in West Hartford. mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org

West Hartford — Sleet and freezing rain pelted them. An icy glaze made the sidewalks treacherous. And they didn’t really need to be there, not if their goal was simply to urge Connecticut’s all-Democratic congressional delegation to impeach Donald J.Trump.

That’s a done deal.

But they still came, maybe 100 of them, to stand vigil Tuesday night in a semi-circle outside the town hall of this suburb, a place where more Republicans voted for John Kasich than Trump in the 2016 presidential primary and only 24% of voters chose him in the general election.

“There are rallies all over. It would be terrible if Connecticut wasn’t represented in this. That’s why I’m here,” said Linda George, a local resident. “When I saw the map, I said, ‘This is very exciting, and how can we not be represented, particularly because we are a blue state.’” 

She was referring to a map that showed 600 vigils promoted by MoveOn.org around the United States, a quiet demonstration on the eve of only the third vote by the U.S. House of Representatives for articles of impeachment. Others were planned across Connecticut.

All five members of the Connecticut delegation say they intend to vote Wednesday for two articles of impeachment: One, the abuse of power relating to linking foreign aid for Ukraine to that nation’s willingness to assist Trump’s re-election; and two, the obstruction of Congress for defying subpoenas for testimony and documents.

Karyn Schwartzer of West Hartford said the vigils were aimed not at Congress, but a divided America. According to a Washington Post-ABC poll released earlier Tuesday, 49% of the nation wants Trump impeached and removed and 46% do not. Schwartzer stood outside Tuesday to reach the 46% still with the president.

“The more people that come out, maybe the rest of America will see what we all see, that we can’t set a precedence for corruption and a loss of democracy in our government,” she said. “What’s going to happen in a few years, when we have somebody else in there who is worse?”

Schwartzer knows well how divisive is the issue of Trump’s presidency, not just his impeachment. It has split her from her relatives in New Jersey, who stand with the president on everything. No conversation is safe, not even about the weather.

“The weather can bring up climate change,” she said. 

Jim Chapeldelaine, a musician and activist who acted as an M.C., said he was surprised that anyone turned out in the storm. He stood at the top of the town hall steps on a landing that served as a stage.

“We are a hardy bunch,” laughed state Sen. Derek Slap, D-West Hartford.

A sole Trump supporter, a cheerful man who declined to give his name, stood off to the side with a Trump 2020 placard. He smiled and said, “I think I’m outnumbered.”

Chapeldelaine told the crowd he took no pleasure in asking Congress to remove a president.

“There are people that say we’re undoing an election. We’re not,” he said. “We’re addressing rampant, unchecked criminality, and that’s what’s happening.”

In the crowd, six people held up illuminated letters: R-E-M-O-V-E.

The vigils came as the president denounced the impeachment proceedings in a rambling, six-page letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“This is nothing more than an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth,” Trump wrote. “History will judge you harshly as you proceed with this impeachment charade.”

Trump said it is Democrats who are interfering in America’s elections and obstructing justice.

Connecticut’s two Democratic senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, each say the record proves the president’s guilt, though they are willing to hear evidence of his innocence. But Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have made clear there will be little new evidence and no testimony at the Senate trial.

In a message from Blumenthal read at the vigil, he said he stands with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer , D-N.Y., in “calling for a fair and full Senate trial that requires documents and witnesses.

“Trump’s actions threaten our democracy. But the greater threat would be if America became a place where such misdeeds went unpunished.”

In Washington, Trump faces two articles of impeachment. In West Hartford, the list of presidential offenses outlined by speakers stretched longer.

Cheri Quickmire of Common Cause tells protesters that Trump was guilty of far more than two articles of impeachment. mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org

“He pockets money from foreign governments,” said Cheri Quickmire, the executive director of Common Cause in Connecticut. “He abuses power by interfering in the Russian investigation. He attacks the free press when they criticize him. He violated multiple campaign finance laws and has said he’ll do it again. So he has failed the oath of office and is refusing — refusing — to safeguard our elections from foreign interference. He has normalized hatred, racism and xenophobia.”

Quickmire read from notes encased in plastic.

State Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, D-West Hartford, who stepped up her political activism after Trump’s election and won a legislative seat in 2018, also had her own list, whether or not they are high crimes or misdemeanors.

“Do I believe that Donald Trump is a sexist and has sexually abused numerous women? Yes!” she said. “Do I believe Donald Trump is a racist and anti-immigrant? Yes! Do I believe Donald Trump should never have put his family members in position of leadership? Yes! Do I believe Donald Trump is an embarrassment and has ruined relationships across this globe? Yes! I believe each of those things.”

To each question posed by Gilchrest, the crowd joined her in loudly answering yes.

She told them to contact their representative in Congress, even if they all are on record in support of impeachment.

“We know they stand with us, but they need to hear from us,” she said. “History will look poorly on those who remain silent during this time.”

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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31 Comments

  1. “‘Maybe the rest of America will see what we all see” – They see a phantom. Anyway, a “vigil“? Wow, this really is a religion to these never trumpers!

    1. These days, I believe most people think of a vigil as a gathering in support of some cause or other, not in a religious context.

  2. This is what happens when individuals embrace Party Dogma and emotional preference, over logical thinking. The actions of Pres Trump do not justify impeachment. However, the former manipulation and weaponizing of our federal law enforcement agencies, and corruption of the Democratic Process (DNC Bernie Shut Out) do. Many in the Democrat Party have corrupted our politics and committed crimes under the guise of political justice. This impeachment process is no more than political theater designed to protect the guilty, and neutralize the Trump Presidency. It is not justice. It is an attack against our country.

    1. Talk about embracing the “Party Dogma and emotional preference,…”. You’re parroting the GOP/fox news rhetoric that is factually incorrect. Just because something is repeated ad-nauseam does not make it true.

      1. You mean like the other 90%+ of the media parrots DNC talking points ad nauseum? That kind of dogma and emotional preference? Get real.

      2. Hello Ella,
        I pride myself on validating the facts and evidence before drawing conclusions. If you believe the DNC was not rigged against Bernie
        Nor that the Clintom Campaign attempted to use propaganda (Steele Dossier) to manipulate the FBI. You are grossly uninformed or blinded by emotion. Thanks for the reply and Merry Christmas!

    2. I must say that I don’t see how logical thinking could lead to any other conclusion than that Trump’s actions DO justify impeachment. If Bill Clinton could be impeached for having an affair and lying about it (which nobody ever claimed endangered our national security), how can Trump NOT be impeached for asking a foreign government to investigate HIS political opponent, while withholding duly authorized military aid that Ukraine needed to fight Russia — which does impact our national security?

  3. Maybe the rest of America doesn’t believe what you believe. Have you ever considered that possibility?

    1. Actually, the majority of Americans do believe. Proof of this is in the results of the popular vote, in which Clinton received almost 3 million more votes than trump. So there’s that…

      1. Until you Democrats eliminate the electoral college for the entire country, Presidents will continue to be elected using it. Last I checked, we’re still a representative democracy, except for the blue states like ours which decided that the votes of the minority don’t count in Presidential elections. That itself is enough for me to leave this progressive utopia.

      2. Hello Ella,
        I ask that you please take the time to research, and educate yourself on the Electoral College. We are not a 3rd World Country, whose politics and leaders are decided by Mob Rule. We are a Contitutional Republic. I am assuming you have never read the “Federalist Papers”. I suggest you do, and than we can discuss this further.

  4. Where were these people when President Obama and Hilary Clinton, secretary of state, lied to us about the reason for Benghazi? I guess it’s a selective protest. I don’t agree that there is sufficient wrong doing to negate the votes of half the people in this country.

    1. Same thing, when Bush lied about Iraq having something to do with 9/11 and WMD’s. The media and both wings of the same bird (left and right) were on board.

    2. If my memory is correct, President Obama was not impeached. Of course it’s a selective process, I couldn’t imagine people with any moral fiber attending one of trump’s campaign rallies. You know, those events where he bullies dead people like the late Rep. John Dingle or mocks people with disabilities. The process of impeachment as put forth in the Constitution is not negating the votes of less than half of the country. Think of it as being indicted by a grand jury. Also, remember, Clinton garnered almost 3 million more votes than trump.

  5. Over 100 gathered in front of the Fairfield Town Hall in the cold icy rain. But we all kept warn chanting slogans “Impeach & Remove” “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Donald Trump has got to go.” One lone Trump supported stood across the street. It felt surprisingly good to do something, to have a voice.

    1. Really? 100? Tonight more than 20,000 will gather at President Trumps rally. Hey hey, ho ho, this impeachment action has no hope.

      1. Just an fyi Jim, he was impeached and regardless if he is removed or not the stain of impeachment will forever mar his presidency.

      2. You mean like Bill Clinton had the stain of impeachment on him? I hear about how awful that was for him all the time.

      3. you point out the true underlying reason for the impeachment, but I don’t think that it is going to mar his presidency too much. There has never been a totally partisan impeachment this will signal an automatic impeachment whenever the House in in opposition to the WH, So impeachment will become quite common

  6. Pure theatrics. Trump will be impeached today, and the left is going to celebrate. They will have parties and be joyous. A pity. They say things like, ““He pockets money from foreign governments,” which is just fantasy, totally without evidence, and it is reported as truth and without question or challenge.
    A partisan impeachment such as this will ensure that every president from this day on will be impeached whenever the House is in opposition to the President and removed whenever the House and the Senate are in opposition by a significant majority. Elections will become less important and if we, the citizens. are to maintain any power over the selection of the president we are going to have to maintain partisan majorities. This is going to render, “picking the best person for the jobs” with “picking the best party for the job”.
    Our selection of president will be meaningless unless congress is of the same persuasion.
    It is a dark day.

    1. I agree about the cheapening of the impeachment process. Don’t forget that Democrats are trying to dismantle the electoral college system, one blue state at a time, including Connecticut. That will take the Presidential vote out of the hands of anyone who votes for the candidate who doesn’t win the popular vote. Its runs completely counter to our representative form of democracy but it doesn’t stop the left.

      1. I would add that in CT, WRT to electoral college. Our constitutional right and the advantages that the founders gave us for being a ‘little state” (and a rich little state at that), and to partially protect us from tyranny of the larger states was taken away from us by the Democratic legislature in the 2018 session (also three Republicans [Witkos 8th, Logan 17th, and Somers 28th) in a very sneaky workaround and we had no say in it.

        CT citizens, liberal and conservatives, Dems and Rep, should have a been standing out in an ice storm protesting. That was a big deal. The founders gave us lots of protections from the government taking our rights and liberty away but they probably didn’t anticipate that we would give them away.

      2. Ben Franklin sure hit the nail on the head when he said that we have “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Looks like we’re not giving it away, we’re throwing it away.

    2. I believe the claim that Trump “pockets money from foreign governments” has to do with foreign dignitaries spending big bucks staying at his hotel in DC and golf clubs elsewhere, as well as Trump’s own statement, “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million,” along with other business transactions. And don’t forget, Trump wanted the G7 summit to be held at the Doral resort that he owns (although he backpedaled on that one after much criticism). So the claim, whether you agree with it or not, is not “totally without evidence”.

    3. Joe Biden’s family did pocket money from foreign governments. As did Hillary Clinton when she was SecState. Bill Clinton was paid big bucks to give speeches by foreign governments when his wife was serving under Obama. When Bill was asked about it, he just said “I gotta pay our bills.”

  7. I never knew our country was like this. I consider myself fairly savvy and in tune with society, but I feel so naive and foolish to not have realized the severe partisan politics and hatred and racism of Trump’s supporters. Forget Trump. Trump is Trump. Of course Trump should be impeached. It’s an open and shut case. And I would be saying the very same thing if it was a Democrat president.
    I just never knew. I just never realized that 50% of my fellow citizens were like this. It’s so sad to me.

    1. You’re saying all those Trump supporters who voted for Obama twice but switched to vote for Trump in 2016 are racist? Even Michael Moore knows that’s not the case.

    2. Its funny how you feel all that hatred and racism coming from one side. We must be living in parallel universes.

  8. I’ll state. I’m no Trump lover or hater. I’m not a liberal or conservative. I’m in the middle. So to liberals. If you are outraged about not sending money to Ukraine. Then where you when Ned is holding our towns money for roads just to force tolls down our throats. Where are you.

    1. I completely agree with you. CT has been completely bankrupted by Democratic party and their allegiance to Union and constant taxes increases. I am in the middle to. Check my posts over the years to this CT Mirror site. I have constantly commented on this. No one pays attention it seems. Now I don’t bother. It’s way too late. We are totally bankrupt and will be for decade plus. Probably 2 or 3. And that’s if we “start now”, which we won’t.
      sending money or not sending money to Ukraine is beside point. Trump corruption is issue.

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