Republicans trying to overturn election now upset their coup attempt got violent
A number of lawmakers who pushed baseless lies to block Joe Biden’s victory are now calling for the violence to stop.
Many of the GOP lawmakers who backed Donald Trump’s efforts to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win now suddenly believe violence he fomented among his supporters has gone too far.
Chaos broke out on Wednesday as Trump-supporting extremists descended on the U.S. Capitol, breaking windows, attacking police, and forcing their way into the building. The extremists were there to protest Congress certifying the Electoral College vote, which cemented Biden’s 2020 victory.
Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate have pushed back on that vote, refusing to certify the results and attempting to overturn the election.
Hours before the riots began, Trump himself had egged his supporters on, stating he would be there with them as they moved on the Capitol. He ultimately holed up at the White House as they forced their way inside the building, tweeting attacks on own vice president and those who he believed had betrayed him.
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” he wrote.
Amid the violence on Wednesday, many of the same lawmakers who had tried earlier in the morning to throw out the will of the American people released statements condemning the madness.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a frequent Trump defender, had supported the attempt to block Biden’s certification. On Wednesday, however, he expressed disdain for the violence, tweeting, “What is unfolding is unacceptable and un-American. It has got to stop.”
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), a loyal Trump ally, had also supported the congressional coup but tweeted on Wednesday, “United States Capitol Police saved my life. Attacks on law enforcement officers trying to do their jobs are never acceptable. Period. We can passionately protest without being violent.”
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik previously said during an interview that she “support[ed] the effort by the Trump campaign to make sure every legal ballot and only legal ballots are counted.” However on Wednesday she wrote from her personal Twitter account that she “fully condemn[ed] the dangerous violence and destruction of the Capitol grounds.”
“These actions are unAmerican,” she wrote. “Thank you to the men and women in blue – the heroic @CapitolPolice – who are protecting the American people and the People’s House.”
Michigan Rep. Jack Bergman tweeted Wednesday that the violence was “disgraceful” and that “Attacks on [Capitol Police officers], innocent civilians, or any elected official should be met with the full force of the law.”
But just Monday, Bergman objected to Biden’s Electoral College victory, saying in a statement, “While the easy answer is ignoring election irregularities — we will not stand idly by without taking every lawfully available option to ensure the outcomes of our elections can be trusted.”
Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs similarly tweeted on Wednesday, “This is shameful, unacceptable, and un-American! Violence is not the answer. Everyone must stand down and let Capitol Police do their job and secure the area!”
Gibbs was one of five Ohio GOP members who joined a Texas lawsuit seeking to throw out election results in four states where Trump lost to Biden, though he did not plan to challenge electoral vote certification.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, one of the most vocal supporters of false election fraud allegations, took to Twitter to condemn the violence taking place on the Capitol grounds and in the Capitol building this week.
“Stop the violence,” he tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “Support Capitol Police.”
But Jordan has spread lies about election fraud since Nov. 3, and as recently as Tuesday, took to the ultraconservative Newsmax to claim it was time for Republicans to “fight.”
“This is about President Trump and the Constitution,” he said. “He has fought for us, the American people. He has done more of what he said he would do than any president in our lifetimes. I mean, he’s accomplished so much in his four years as president. It’s time for us to fight for him and the Constitution.”
Several GOP senators who supported Trump’s coup also attempted to walk back on Wednesday, including Tennessee Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Haggerty, as well as Sens. Ron Johnson (WI), Steve Daines (MT), Roger Marshall (TN), and Rick Scott (FL).
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the most vocal Republican congressional lawmakers leading the charge against the Electoral College certification, objected to Biden’s victory in Arizona Wednesday morning but suddenly changed his tune following the violence.
“Violence is always unacceptable. Even when passions run high,” Cruz tweeted Wednesday. “Anyone engaged in violence—especially against law enforcement—should be fully prosecuted.”
Though Cruz has stopped short of admitting Trump’s defeat, he said Monday night on a campaign telephone town hall the effort to overturn the election “is very, very uphill right now.”
“Clearly if something significant doesn’t change, then Biden and Kamala Harris are on a path to being the next president and vice president,” he said. “I hope something significant changes.”
Cruz also notably claimed that the processing of ballots in Pennsylvania — where the state Legislature prevented election officials from processing mail-in ballots before Election Day, as an expected surge in absentee ballots would almost certainly delay reporting the results — was “partisan,” “political,” and “lawless.”
The senator also suggested that the Justice Department and U.S. Supreme Court could get involved.
Johnson also defended trying to steal the election just two days ago, saying, “I didn’t criticize Democrats when they were talking about potential hacking of voting machines, but now it’s quackery? Now it’s conspiracy theory? … There’s a double standard and we are not being transparent and we are dismissing the concerns of tens of millions of Americans.”
On Wednesday, he tweeted for extremists at the Capitol to “please … respect law enforcement and peacefully disperse.”
Blackburn also tweeted support for the election coup earlier on Wednesday, saying “The fight for election integrity starts right now.”
Later that afternoon, she tweeted a supposed change of heart. “These actions at the US Capitol by protestors are truly despicable and unacceptable,” she wrote. “While I am safe and sheltering in place, these protests are prohibiting us from doing our constitutional duty. I condemn them in the strongest possible terms. We are a nation of laws.”
This article has been updated to correct Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s title to House minority leader.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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