Nebraska, Iowa lawmakers condemn protesters’ breach of U.S. Capitol
Former lawmakers share perspective on events in Washington
(WOWT) - Responding from Washington, D.C., Nebraska and Iowa lawmakers condemned the violence and described what it was like to watch the chaos unfold at the U.S. Capitol after protestors stormed the federal building while the joint session was debating the 2020 Electoral College results.
From inside locked offices and basements, lawmakers said on Zoom calls and over the phone Wednesday that they were shocked at what was happening.
Congressman Don Bacon, R-Neb., called the acts of violence at the Capitol shameful.
“This is unacceptable,” he said. “We live in the oldest in the greatest republic and democracy in this world, and the actions of these people — I’m not talking about the peaceful protesters — but those who are doing the violence here, is an embarrassment to our country and they should feel ashamed.”
Tweeting from D.C., Bacon, who represents Nebraska’s 2nd District, also thanked the Capitol Police for their response.
Ahead of Bacon’s online call, 6 News also spoke with Nebraska Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry, who was also in Washington to participate in Wednesday’s joint session of Congress to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
“It’s a radical mob that is invaded the Capitol,” he said. “It’s creating a highly dangerous and violent situation, and actually undermining the principles of democracy they pretend they’re exercising.”
Describing the chaos, Fortenberry told 6 News it was unlike anything he had ever witnessed before.
“Most people were here to listen to the president in March, but some fools who have created these dangerous acts and I’ve taken over the capital — I have never seen anything like this; couldn’t have even imagined it. People on the floor of the Senate chamber; one person sitting in the Senate chair like he’s some sort of demigod.”
Calling for an end to the protests, Fortenberry said he was with his team and safe. The Congressman told 6 News he watched police detonate an explosive device from his office window, but said later he thought the day’s proceedings on the Electoral College should resume.
Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying: “As Americans, we believe the rule of law and protection of civil liberties differentiate our nation as the greatest on Earth. While many protestors are exercising their Constitutional right to be heard peacefully, I urge all protestors to do so and to follow the directions of law enforcement. We are working to ensure concerns about the conduct of the presidential election in several states are heard through the existing legal process, and illegal disruptions of this process are unacceptable and not constructive.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., also sent in a statement: “Today, the United States Capitol — the world’s greatest symbol of self-government — was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard — tweeting against his Vice President for fulfilling the duties of his oath to the Constitution. Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the President’s addiction to constantly stoking division. Americans are better than this: Americans aren’t nihilists. Americans aren’t arsonists. Americans aren’t French revolutionaries taking to the barricades. This is not how we peacefully transfer power. The American people are tough, our Constitutional order is strong, and we will meet this moment with strength and grace.”
Once the joint session resumed, Sasse made further comments about the events of the day, saying he had planned to talk about one of the nation’s first historically peaceful transfers of power when John Adams lost a bitter contest to Thomas Jefferson.
“I wanted to celebrate that. And it feels a little bit harder now,” he said. “This building has been desecrated. Blood has been spilled in the hallways.”
Sasse talked about seeing fellow elder lawmakers having to be assisted by troops and police to lock down and staff members panicking.
“Our kids need to know that this isn’t what America is. What happened today isn’t what America is,” he said.
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., called on “rioters” to end their demonstration:
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts also urged protesters in Washington, D.C., to go home.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, called it “anarchy”:
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called perpetrators “to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”:
Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, posted that she and her staff were safe during the shelter-in-place order and called for holding accountable those responsible.
Axne told 6 News she held Trump responsible for the events of today.
“The president is to blame for what’s going on right now,” she said. “For the entirety of the term that he’s served, he has incited divisiveness within this country. And in his debate with President-elect Biden, he actually told the Proud Boys to ‘stand by’ while they stood by, and now they’re here.”
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