‘What is this, ancient Rome?’: Geraldo says Capitol riots ‘incited’ by long-time friend Trump were anti-Democratic, appalling

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — Horrifing, depressing, gut-wrenching.

Those are just a few words Geraldo Rivera used to describe the riots at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, which he said were “incited” by his longtime friend and President of the United States Donald Trump.

Rivera, a longtime reporter who now hosts “Geraldo in Cleveland” on WTAM, spoke with Fox 8 News Thursday about what the country witnessed, placing the responsibility “squarely in the lap of President Trump.”

“I was absolutely horrified by what I saw. I saw insurrection, I saw a mob incited by the president of the United States,” said Rivera. “It was one of the most depressing, alarming sights I’ve ever seen. The language he used was so incendiary. He’s been a friend of mine for many, many years. I supported him very strongly. But to watch what happened yesterday was appalling, it was anti-Democratic. It was something I hope never to see again.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: President Donald Trump greets the crowd at the “Stop The Steal” Rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation’s capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

A violent pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol Wednesday following a rally where Trump spoke and as lawmakers were meeting to confirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. A woman was shot and killed by police, and three others died in apparent medical emergencies.

Rivera reflected on how Capitol Hill police handled the situation. Many lawmakers and other officials say they were grossly unprepared for Wednesday’s riots.

“I think everyone was stunned by what happened,” said Rivera. “And you have to remember, to give them a little slack, there has never been a situation where the actual instigator of the riot was the commander in chief. Nobody anticipated that our own president, the 45th president of the United States would unleash on the center of government, a mob. I mean what is this? Ancient Rome? It was so gut-wrenching.”

Rivera said Trump called him a couple of weeks after the election. When they spoke, Rivera said, Trump said he was a realist and that “I’ll do the right thing when the time comes.”

“He seemed to me to be in the mood that he that he was resigned,” he said. “I thought he was going to come around and do the right thing.”

Protests the next day, Geraldo said, seemed to, in part, change Trump’s mind.

When asked if he thought Trump had a chance at the presidency in 2024, Rivera said until Wednesday, he was the leading candidate.

“Now, I think he’s destroyed his own political future,” he said. “1814 was the last time the Capitol got sacked by the British. That’s 200 years ago. Two hundred years pass, and this is what happens. You don’t forget something like that. It’s a tattoo on your brain. You don’t forget that the president of the United States unleashed a mob.”

A flag that reads “Treason” is visible on the ground in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

From here, Rivera said, those who backed the president in his fight against the election results have to realize what they did in “helping enable him to do this anti-Democratic stunt.”

He also emphasized if a majority of the cabinet and the vice president of the United States deem Trump unfit for office, they can envoke the 25th amendment and replace him.

“He’s got to know that’s a possibility,” he said. “That should be the limiter of his conduct. Now I think he has to be humble..he has to apologize. He has to promise to get to the bottom of who perpetrated the violence. The president now really has to be on his best behavior.”

Rivera said the ordeal is a blow to him and to his friendship with Trump.

“As his friend, I was embarrassed,” he said. “It was reckless narcissism on his point. It was something I shall never forget.”

“The president has to step up to the plate now,” said Rivera. “If he doesn’t, I fear for the next couple of weeks in this country. He has to steady the helm.”

Rivera said Trump also must recognize there’s no doubt the electors have chosen Joe Biden as the country’s next president.

“Sometimes you need a little humility,” he said. “Even Donald Trump needs a little humility.”

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