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GC commissioners deplore violence at Capitol but support President Trump

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
A pro-Trump mob tries to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Like law makers all across the country this week, Grayson County commissioners have reflected on the situation that unfolded when American law makers met this week to count the Electoral College votes in the 2020 presidential election.

Each commissioner and Grayson County Judge Bill Magers weighed in their thoughts on the mob that took over the Capitol Building, the investigation into that event and the calls for the early removal of Donald Trump as president.

Commissioner Phyllis James, Precinct 3, said she feels the people who broke into the capital weren't the same as the group who went to D.C. to support Trump.

"I believe that that they were ... I don't know who they were, but that is on the way that we behave," she said. "It was peaceful up until those individuals decided to go in there, and I am disappointed that anyone would act like that. But, I just don't believe that it was Republican people that went up there to support our president."

2019 file photo of Phyllis James, commissioner Precinct 3

When asked about the recorded video that President Trump sent out during the occupation of the Capitol saying he loved the people who gathered in Washington that day and that they were special to him, James said she isn't on all social media forms and doesn't follow anyone including the president so she couldn't comment on that.

James said she absolutely believes there should be an investigation into just how people were allowed to storm the capital building and get inside.

But she also said, "I think there needs to be a bigger investigation into the voter fraud. I think the whole election should have been overturned, and we should have started over. And, everyone should have had to vote in person. That's my belief.

"I think we are as guilty as any other country that has had fraudulent elections. I think that part should have been handled differently. Now, do I think anybody that breaks the law should have to follow the law of the land? Absolutely. But it seems like when BLM and the others were rioting and tearing up other people's property doing damage, the Democratic Party and those in charge didn't see that that was worse than anything else. They were just expressing their views. So it is just so upside down.

"The way people look at things and the people that do get in trouble, and the people that don't get in trouble. If everybody would just follow the law, and then be prosecuted for breaking the law, there wouldn't be any of this."

As for the talk of removing the president, James wasn't hearing any of it.

"I think Donald Trump was one of the best presidents we've had since Ronald Reagan," she said adding that "pretty much sums it up for me."

2020 file photo of Jeff Whitmire, commissioner Precinct 1

Commissioner Jeff Whitmire, Precinct 1, also doesn't' think the president should be removed.

"While the president may have made some extreme remarks here and there, I don' think the things that I heard him say call for happened (at the Capitol)," Whitmire said he found what happed at the capital very disturbing. "I don't know that I would stand for any violent protest at all. I would be more in favor, from what ever prospective that we take, a more aggressive approach to them (the protestors)." 

He added that that it doesn't matter who the protestors are or their cause, "there is no excuse for that type of activity. People broke into our nation's capital building and that should never happen and we just gave terrorists (a) blueprint on how to go in and take over our capital."

Whitmire also said he didn't see Trump's social media posts. 

"I got pretty disgusted with the news before watching that much of it so I turned it off," he said. "The only thing that I heard was once it had all started, he said something about 'go home or go home or go in peace.' But while they were doing that rally, he said some things that sounded a little more ... sounded worse but I am not gonna say that what he did was the excuse for that type of behavior by anybody."

He added that there should absolutely be an investigation into just how the events were allowed to unfold the way they did.

"The capital police or whoever it was, they were completely unprepared," Whitmire said. "Frankly, I feel like people in that position should be prepared to defend that building at all costs. if it was a foreign invader coming in here and doing that, would we be shooting back? Or would we just let them come on in? It's just a sad situation."

Grayson County Judge Bill Magers also said he didn't think the people who destroyed property and broke into the building were Trump supporters.

Grayson County Judge Bill Magers in a 2019 file photo

"It was a very large peaceful demonstration and most of those people did things the right way," he said

He also thinks there were some problems with the election, but  now is now time to move forward together to fix those things that people think are wrong with the election system to build in more trust and security for future elections.

"I don't condone what took place in any shape form or fashion," he said of the storming of the Capitol building. "I do understand the frustration because we've seen similar activities take place across cities all over the country all summer. However, its not the capital. I will say this: Our founding fathers, when they put this great country together they anticipated days like yesterday. They anticipated that the changing of our elected officials might not be as easy as it has been and so they put safe guards in place, which, at the end of the day, proved appropriate based on what happened (Wednesday) night.

"I do have concerns about some of the elements of the election, but I think the way that it was handled yesterday is totally inappropriate. and any, any American on either side of the aisle would agree that what took place yesterday is not the way we handle things in our country."

Grayson County Commissioner, David Whitlock

Commissioner David Whitlock, Precinct 4, said he too thinks that the people who broke into the Capitol were not Trump supporters.

"I think there were people planted in that crowd that didn't belong there and I think you'll find that isn't not Donald Trump's people that did it," Whitlock said after calling the entire incident "a crock."

He said he was "watching the video. The guy had on this big helmet and knee pads and all of that. I have a feeling, well, its not that I have a feeling — everybody can see he was prepared for what he did. I just to don't believe it was the people that Donald Trump had there. I think it was all a set up to keep Ted Cruz from opening up things that he was prepared to say."

As for the calls to remove the president, Whitlock said, "That's just ridiculous. Biden did not win that race as far as I am concerned. There's no way." 

When asked what it would take to convince him otherwise, Whitlock said, "Well, until I see that they tested those voting machines, the Dominion machines that haven't been checked. If they'll sit down and say 'Let's check this over,' then I'll be convinced. But if they are not going to do that, I'll never be convinced." 

Whitlock did say he thinks Vice President Mike Pence did not have the constitutional power to declare the election null and void and did the right thing by following the law the way it is set out in the Constitution.

"Otherwise, I think he would have done otherwise," he said. "I would hope he was doing what was right. I didn't think of him as a person that would not (do what's right)."

The commissioner added that he thinks there are harder times ahead.

"Till this is straightened out, there's never gonna be another election that people can trust."

Grayson County Commissioner Bart Lawrence Precinct 2

Commissioner Bart Lawrence, Precinct 2, said the things he watched on television Wednesday left him disgusted with the entire system and everything involved.

As for the calls to remove the president, Lawrence said, "I think that's insane, absolutely insane. I see no point in that whatsoever. The guy's got 12 or 13 days or whatever the number is at this point. It is a very short time. It is over, it is done. Do I think the election had some major major flaws, absolutely. Do I think out court systems are screwed up? Absolutely. It everybody is so confident that the election was perfect, then prove it. Or let us at least investigate it. I just think it is an insane deal all around and I am just so happy I live in Grayson County. I think that we are real, real careful and we don't have those issues but I know we can't live on an island."

Lawrence said he thinks it is disgusting what the extremist in each camp are doing to each other. It is disgusting if the only way states can resolve differences between them is to go to the Supreme Court and then they refuse to hear it— Wow! Isn't that pretty wild? What do you do now? I don't know who is in control of what but I know that we don't have much control as an average person, me, you or anybody else. And I don't have many good things to say about the news media to be flat honest, any of them. I wish they would just give me the facts and let me sort through it myself and don't give me their opinion."

He said he doesn't think the people who stormed the capital building were Trump supporters.

"You hear all of these conspiracy stories," he said. "I've heard so many in the last nine months, you don't know what to believe. I don't know if you can believe any of it. Of course there's rednecks and goofballs in every camp, you know that and I know that," he said.

But, he added anyone breaking into any building when they don't have a legal right to be there is wrong anyway one slice's it.

"I don't care when you do it, where you do it, if it is in Portland, Seattle, Washington D.C. or Pottsboro, Texas, I don't give a damn — you don't do it."

He  thinks there should be an investigation into what happened and how it was allowed to happened.

"I bet its different than 99 percent of the media thinks happened." Lawrence said  he was watching television and he was watching Cruz speak. 

"Some people say it was all because of that, that they didn't want people to hear what (Cruz) had to say," Lawrence said. He added that he doesn't know if those people are right or not or if Cruz even had anything to say that was all that profound. 

" I don't know. I hate controversy. I think that people ought to be able to get along some way, some how but when they hate each other as much as they do up there, for whatever reason, its wrong. When there's that much hatred and when the people who are running our country have that much hatred, its scary. It is scary."