Siena political science professor talks inauguration

Albany County

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LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — This inauguration was unlike any other for a list of reasons, from COVID-19 to drastic and expansive security efforts. Thousands of national guard troops stood by to protect the presidential swearing-in. Perhaps not the celebration president Biden’s supporters would have hoped for, but a necessity following the recent violence at the Capitol.

A local expert on American politics reflected on the events that led up to this historic day with NEWS10.

“I think the American public is very sensitive to the need for such a presence, especially given the consequences of January 6—not only the vandalism and destruction as a result of the riots and insurrection but the loss of American lives,” said Leonard Cutler, a political science professor at Siena College.

People were urged to stay home instead of attending the ceremony, and only a fraction of the tickets usually handed out for an inauguration were distributed.

Aside from hostility between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump—who skipped out on the ceremony—some possible tension lingered between him and the former Vice President Mike Pence heading into inauguration day. For his part, Pence attended the ceremony and did not include any photos of trump in his farewell tweet from office. Trump reportedly did not reach out to his VP after the insurrection, when Pence was dangerously close to rioters who entered the building calling for his execution by hanging.

“They were incommunicado for over six days, and subsequently they had a meeting, whereupon I guess, it was called a meeting of the minds,” Cutler said. “Whether or not they established a rapprochement—a friendship—again, is certainly up to a great deal of speculation.”

Trump thanked Pence in his farewell address, however. In the last 12 hours of his administration, Trump also issued 73 pardons and 70 commutations, including for prominent personal allies. Some were unconventional, like nullifying the prosecution of ex-strategist Steve Bannon, who had not yet faced any prison time.

“As much as we may question, we may challenge, we may in fact argue against the use of the president’s pardoning power, it’s pretty expansive. And at one point, as you may recall, there was speculation he was going to pardon himself, which he didn’t do. And wisely so, because he’s facing an impeachment trial, and that will be coming up shortly in the Senate.”

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