Grassley visits with Marshalltown students
Accompanied by Capitol Police, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) spoke with students at Marshalltown High School on Wednesday.
Exactly one week prior, Grassley was in the U.S. Senate Chamber, working on certifying the results of the November 2020 election of President-elect Joe Biden. At about 2:15 p.m., Grassley was led out of the room by security guards, as he is the president pro tempore, which means he is third in the line of succession to become President of the United States. He did not know what was going on, or that one hour before at 1:15 p.m., rioters had broken into the U.S. House of Representatives Chamber. Once Grassley was in a secure location, ahead of the other 99 senators, he saw what was happening by watching the news on the television.
“I was saying to myself, ‘Ye gods. This is happening in the Capitol?'” he said. “We had almost an hour debate before anybody thought it was a problem, so I didn’t know it was a problem until I got to the secure location and I saw it on television.”
The rioters were urged that morning by President Donald Trump to “fight like hell” to save their country. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, told the crowd they should have a “trial by combat.” The division between the two main political parties in America was very apparent on Jan. 6. Grassley said he hopes Biden will bring about unity, but added more needs to be done.
“It isn’t just political leadership and this may sound like a sentimental answer to your question, but to me it’s a very serious answer to your question but it goes to every individual in America,” Grassley said. “The same principle applies whether you’re a Christian or not a Christian, but two basic laws — love God, love your neighbor. If we live that way, we would not have this problem.”
A small number of students were in the library, socially distanced and wearing masks as Grassley navigated his way through the tables to answer their questions, ranging from who the suited men were who accompanied him (the Capitol Police) to what the government could do to stop media pushing wrong information
Grassley provided two answers for the media question – one dealing with traditional media and the other involving social media. He said the First Amendment provides freedom of the press, so it is difficult for public officials to sue media for information presented.
“Unless you want to amend the First Amendment and I don’t want to do that, I think it’s difficult when you’re dealing with newspaper, radio, television — particularly when you’re a public servant,” he said.
Grassley added the same does not apply for private citizens.
With social media, Grassley said the platforms can get away with a lot more because of Section 230 which states those companies cannot be sued.
“If you want to know what I want to do about that, I want to repeal 230 or dramatically change it so they don’t have as much freedom to do it,” he said. “I’m kind of an advocate to where I might disagree with what the Marshalltown newspaper has to say about me, I can’t deny they have the right to print whatever they want to. To some extent, if you’re going to have a democracy, that freedom of press is absolutely essential, because they’re kind of a policeman for our political system, to keep it honest and transparent. If you have transparency, you have accountability. But just to censor is wrong.”
Grassley ended the answer by telling the students they should judge for themselves what information to believe and not believe.
Another student asked when the COVID-19 pandemic would end and people would not have to wear masks anymore.
“I think the only answer I can give to that would be as fast as we can get people inoculated,” Grassley said.
The senator has heard different percentage requirements for people to be vaccinated – ranging from 70 percent to 90 percent. Somewhere in there is the magic percentage to where the virus would be controlled, he said.
It was hours before the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump on Wednesday when a student asked if Grassley would be in support of it. In the 40 years Grassley has been in Congress, he said he participated in 10 to 12 impeachments and while some took a couple days, others took weeks. By the time a Congressional impeachment trial begins, Grassley said Trump would not be in office.
“It’s difficult as a senator to give an answer, ‘Would you vote for impeachment or against impeachment,'” he answered. “You’re kind of sitting like a juror. So, if you were on a jury here at the Marshall County Courthouse, and you said you had your mind made up, you wouldn’t get on the trial. I feel I have to keep my decision until I hear the evidence. I haven’t even read the indictment”
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