Geraldo Rivera took his recent criticism of President Donald Trump to a new level, sparking a fiery debate on Fox News about accountability.
The Fox News correspondent-at-large continued his denunciation of the president and his objections to the 2020 presidential race during an appearance on Fox & Friends Friday. Rivera pointed an accusing finger at Trump as well as Republican lawmakers for rhetoric that he alleged had incited Wednesday’s violence on Capitol Hill.
Rivera began by complaining that the president’s remarks in a video speech on Thursday night should have been made on Tuesday before he “inspired and incited that mob to storm the Capitol.”
“I think there’s no doubt my friend, the president, bears responsibility, and now hearing that Capitol Police officer has succumbed to his injuries sustained – it is absolutely inexcusable, it’s a dark stain on American history,” he added.
(Source: Fox News)
“I want the Trump term to end as soon as possible on January 20th,” Rivera continued, dismissing the calls for invoking the 25th Amendment or impeaching the president.
“I do not want that to happen. I think the president should be allowed to finish his term,” he said. “History will judge him, and it is something grotesquely disappointing to me what happened, and I tell you I blame Senator Josh Hawley and Senator Ted Cruz as much as I blame the president.”
Rivera denounced the senators, whom he called “brilliant lawyers,” because “they knew there was no constitutional, judicial or legislative path to overturn the election and yet, they went along with that phony challenge.”
“Why did they do that, Geraldo?” Fox News co-host Steve Doocy asked.
“They did it because both of them are in competition to inherit the Donald Trump constituency,” Rivera replied. “They wanted to inherit that superb group of working-class Americans that the president has forged into a new Republican Party; they wanted to take that mantle from the president in 2024, their own, cool, lean, hungry ambition that drove them. I am so dismayed by their behavior.”
“Just so you know, Geraldo, you’re taking leaps. You don’t know that,” co-host Brian Kilmeade interjected.
“You don’t know what their intention was to inherit anything,” he added, defending Cruz in particular, who led the Senate effort to challenge the Electoral College votes in several battleground states. “They were going to have a series of debates, had nothing to do with the riots, he had no idea what was happening in front of the White House, he didn’t incite the riots.”
“You are so wrong,” Rivera interrupted. “You are wrong because these are very clever people. They knew the impact of their words. They knew that by holding out the possibility that the election could be overturned, an absurd possibility, but by these two smart, clever senators siding with the president – ”
“Nothing to do with the riots,” Kilmeade shot back. “You can’t pin it on two senators putting out a legal argument, which they are allowed to do, it’s built into the Constitution. And whether you like it or not, that’s one thing, but to blame them for the deaths of five people, and for the riots, that is crazy!”
Co-host Ainsley Earhardt jumped in to point to the shooting of U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in 2017 by a man who was reportedly a supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“Anyone who listens to the president’s harangue to that mob on Wednesday knows that they were, in their minds they thought that they were doing the president’s bidding. They thought that the president wanted them to storm the capitol,” Rivera argued.
“What did they expect that crowd to do once it got to the United States Capitol? What were they gonna do – set up picnic chairs…peacefully march back and forth? They were filled with rage,” Rivera continued to rant as Kilmeade repeatedly insisted the lawmakers could not be blamed.
“They were told by these senators that there was this possibility the election could be overturned – which was absolutely false!” he contended.
“They are not responsible for the riots,” Kilmeade reiterated.
“Don’t let that propaganda fool you! They knew there was no chance, zero chance,” Rivera shot back.
Weighing in on Trump’s speech, in which he said the journey is only just beginning, Rivera contended that the president was “trying to restart” and “undo what he did.”
“He had a magnificent legacy. If you would have stopped history on Monday, you had a president who was the father of the vaccine,” he said. “He got those peace treaties in the Middle East, he got the economy going that elevated black and brown Americans among others, so much going for him. He could have easily run for 2024.”
Rivera claimed the president had been calm after the election but “became more militant,” with “tragic” results that have “tarnished his legacy in a terrible, terrible way.”
He went on to call out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and “the new majority leader in the Senate, [Sen. Chuck] Schumer from New York,” saying they are “reopening the wounds, exacerbating the tensions and the division.”
“Shame on you!” he added, accusing the Democrat leaders of “grandstanding.”
“What we need now is more of what the president did last night. Calm us, unite us, apologize for the loss of the Capitol cop and others who died,” Rivera continued.
“I want the president now to remind people why we loved him, remind people – that 70 million – what inspired them to leave the comfort of their homes to go to Washington, because he is beloved by 70 million Americans,” Rivera added. “But to tarnish his legacy, to crap all over it, this is something that is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions because now Donald Trump is not going to be the shining star.”
“Keep in mind the ‘law and order’ Democrats were invisible in the spring and the summer when cities were being destroyed and there are 220 days of riots in Portland and they took over blocks in Seattle,” Kilmeade reminded Rivera, noting that there was “no condemnation” for them as there is now for Trump and his allies.