U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat, agree that the riot at the U.S. Capitol was a disgrace and that President Trump encouraged everything that led up to it.
“I think the president does own this,” Capito said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
“I did support the president, and I did support the policies and I think the policies were good for West Virginia. But this is inexcusable.”
Capito and Manchin appeared together on “Talkline.” They were among the federal elected officers who had to evacuate for hours yesterday as a mob forced its way into the Senate and House chambers. Vice President Mike Pence, a Republican, had to be rushed to safety too.
Four people died, including one woman who was trying to get into a chamber through a broken door.
The riot disrupted certification of Electoral College votes by the houses of Congress. What is normally a perfunctory exercise sparked heated debate this year after President Trump pushed unproven theories of election fraud.
Trump addressed a crowd of supporters in Washington, D.C. and tweeted that Wednesday’s protests would be “wild.” Trump told the crowd to march to the Capitol and “you will never take back our country with weakness.”
“The president invited everyone to come and he kept saying it was going to be a memorable day January 6th,” Manchin said.
“When this happened at our own Capitol, it was as if the president of the United States gave a stamp of approval.”
Manchin concluded, “The president, he’s culpable for this.”
Capito has said for weeks that there is not enough evidence of election irregularities to overturn the victory of Democrat Joe Biden.
“The president was convincing people all along that it was stolen,” Capito said today. “The facts didn’t bear that out.”
“He was using his power to convince them of a result that was never going to happen, which was to overturn the election and to force us into accepting that, into breaking our Constitutional duties.”
Capito and Manchin were both in the Senate chamber when they started to hear bangs outside.
“It was horrifying,” Capito said.
“It was unfathomable they would come into the Chamber and defile the building.” She added, “I think it was the lowest day.”
Manchin agreed: “As Shelley says, it was horrific.”
“It was a challenging day. It was a horrible day for our country.”
Capito expressed concern about how America appears in the eyes of other countries, considering its traditional role as a supporter of democracy.
“You look at these pictures and think, ‘Is that Beirut?’ ‘Is that Argentina?’ No, that’s Washington, D.C.,” she said.
Manchin noted some of the rioters carrying Confederate flags through the Capitol. In at least one instance, Old Glory was taken down and replaced by a “Trump” flag.
“It happened by our own citizens,” he said of the occupation. “The people that stormed the Capitol this time had Confederate flags.”
Congressman Alex Mooney, a Republican who represents the middle swath of West Virginia, agreed that the mob went way past the line.
“It was ridiculous. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, identified; I don’t care what their politics are,” Mooney said on “Talkline.”
“I’m going to go in with the assumption they were rabid Trump supporters. You don’t do that I don’t care.” He added, “It’s just not the way we do things. It’s crazy.”
Mooney voted last night to object to Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes, citing questions about process there. But he expressed support for Vice President Pence’s conclusion that he could not single-handedly overturn the election results, as President Trump had urged.
Once the mob was cleared out of the building, lawmakers returned to counting the Electoral College votes, the final step before Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20.
Capito said it was important to return to duty.
“It was important for these insurrectionists to know we will not be intimidated and cowed and bullied,” she said.
Manchin agreed, saying “We cannot let a bunch of thugs and hooligans run us out of our Capitol.”
Today, Manchin said, “The Republic is alive and well.”