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Missouri And Illinois Leaders Condemn Violent Attack On U.S. Capitol

Updated at 10:20 p.m. Jan. 6 with comments from Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley prior to a vote on the presidential election results

Missouri lawmakers are condemning the unfathomable scene of people storming the U.S. Capitol and disrupting Congress from ratifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump.

The violence prompted one Missouri Republican who declined to participate in a doomed effort to overturn Biden’s victory to call the action “seditious.”

Wednesday marked what’s typically the perfunctory counting of Electoral College votes. But some lawmakers, including Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and five Missouri Republican members of the House, planned to object to some of the results based on unsubstantiated claims of fraud. Because Democrats and a number of Republicans, including Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., opposed objections, the effort was doomed to fail.

Egged on by Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat, a swarm of the president’s supporters flooded into the U.S. Capitol and stopped the debate over an objection to Arizona’s electoral vote results. Some broke windows. Others rushed into the Senate chambers. And at least one person was shot inside the Capitol.

A number of lawmakers from Missouri sent out tweets saying that they were safe. They also called on Trump to forcefully condemn what U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois called a “coup attempt.”

“I’m in the Capitol. I’m safe, and my team and I are sheltering in place,” said U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-St. Louis County. "The president of the United States has incited a riot that has now stormed the Capitol. There are rioters roaming the halls of the Capitol. I saw them with my own eyes. Our country deserves better.”

Hawley especially faced a torrent of condemnation on Wednesday for being the first Republican senator to announce his objection to Biden’s win. Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander tweeted, “the President is irredeemable, but you might not be.”

“I know you’re sitting in the bunker scrolling through your mentions right now, Senator@HawleyMO,” Kander tweeted. “I know you’re reading this. I’m not positioning, man. I’m your constituent and I’m pleading with you to act. Please.”

During an interview with St. Louis Public Radio earlier this week, Bush called the bid to object to the Electoral College result by Hawley and others “treasonous.” She sharply criticized Hawley for citing Pennsylvania’s election administration as a reason to object, adding that it was a slap in the face to Black and brown communities that voted in a pandemic to secure Biden’s election.

“As long as he continues to ignore, neglect, overlook Black and brown communities — to overlook every marginalized community in this state — and then turns his attention to a whole other state where he has absolutely not one vote from, if he continues to do that? Then no. We’ll have a different conversation,” Bush said when asked if she could work together with lawmakers who objected to Biden’s win. “I hope that moment opens up to have that.”

On Wednesday evening, Hawley took the floor when debate resumed on Arizona's electoral votes. Speaking directly into a camera, Hawley said, "We cannot say emphatically enough violence is not the way you achieve change.

"There is no place for that in the United States of America. And that’s why I submit to my colleagues that what we’re doing here tonight is actually very important," Hawley said. "Because for those who have concerns about the integrity of our elections, those who have concerns about what happened in November, this is the appropriate means. This is the lawful place where those objections and concerns should be heard."

Hawley was one of six Republican senators to reject Arizona's electoral votes. Everyone else, including Blunt, voted to sustain Biden's win.

Bush tweeted earlier that she believes “the Republican members of Congress who have incited this domestic terror attack through their attempts to overturn the election must face consequences. They have broken their sacred Oath of Office.”

“I will be introducing a resolution calling for their expulsion,” Bush wrote.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, when asked pointedly if Trump was to blame for emboldening his supporters, said “absolutely not.”

“I think when you try to attach, on the political game, when you try to blame the president or somebody else … you know, my understanding is that the president told them not to commit any crimes.”

At his weekly briefing, Parson, a staunch Trump supporter, said he supported law and order and did not condone violence, but he did not offer much more because he said he has not been watching the events closely.

Wagner, who joined a number of Republicans in rejecting the bid to overturn Biden’s victory, said in a tweet that “the violent riots we are seeing right now are despicable and have no place in our nation.” She called the behavior of Trump's supporters "seditious."

In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Wagner described the terrifying scene at the Capitol — which included being rushed to an undisclosed location with other members of Congress. She minced no words about Trump's culpability in inciting the violence of his supporters.

"He never should have incited this to begin with," Wagner said. "And frankly, I was unimpressed by the statement that he gave a little earlier. People have been shot. The Capitol has been breached. Artifacts and offices have been terrorized. And this is not America. This is not who we are. We should have been allowed to finish our democratic process and duty here."

The statement Wagner was referring to, which has been removed from social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, featured the president telling his supporters to go home and that he loved them.

Some, including Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, are calling for Congress to impeach and remove Trump from office immediately. Asked if Trump should resign or Vice President Mike Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, Wagner replied: "At this point, we're so shaken. We're worried about our staffs and each other.

"It was a near coup attempt. And that is not OK," Wagner said. "I haven't thought past just the safety and security of all those involved, especially our brave Capitol Police who were just overtaken. Now we have full-on FBI deployed. Now we've got the National Guard from Virginia and surrounding area here.

"There are those that bear responsibility for this," she added. "We'll see what the days ahead bring. We'll see."

While Wagner did not join other Republicans like Hawley in trying to overturn Biden's win, many Missouri Democrats said that the GOP bore collective responsibility for Wednesday's events after enabling Trump for so long.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said in a statement: "Although today’s events are shocking, they unfortunately aren’t surprising and are the inevitable outcome of months of Republican leaders – including many in Missouri – pushing the lie of a Trump victory and attempting to overturn a legitimate election."

Asked about the GOP's responsibility for Wednesday's violence, Wagner said: “Debate should have happened. I was all in favor of that. This is just a travesty, something you’d think you’d see in a Third World country."

"I believe it is time for us to move forward," she added.

Blunt, who also opposed the objection effort, said in a tweet: "The events unfolding at the Capitol are shameful. There is no justification for violence and destruction. It has to stop now. This is not who we are as a nation. Thank you to the Capitol Police who are keeping us safe."

Some Missouri and Illinois lawmakers who supported Trump’s fruitless bid to overturn the election also issued statements on Twitter calling for the president’s supporters to stand down. Missouri U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, tweeted “peaceful protesting is acceptable. Violence, lawlessness and attacks on law enforcement are absolutely not.”

U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, wrote, “it was Oscar Wilde who said 'When Liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood, it is hard to shake hands with her.'

“The current acts of violence can never be accepted under any circumstances no matter your political affiliation,” Smith said.

Illinois U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, wrote: “Americans cherish our right to free speech and peaceful protest. But what’s happening in our nation’s Capitol is not just unacceptable, it’s un-American.”

Another congressman whose district includes part of the Metro East, Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, tweeted: "This is a sad day for our country. The lawlessness has got to stop. Protestors must leave the Capitol so Congress can resume the process of confirming the Electoral College vote."

Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth said the pro-Trump extremists who stormed the Capitol shouldn't stop Congress from completing the Electoral College certification.

“We need to bring this country together," Duckworth said. "Our country is hurting, our democracy is being tested right now and the best thing that we can do is carry out the rituals and requirements of our democracy.”

Duckworth said a violent mob will not deter her from upholding her constitutional duty to certify Biden as the next president of the United States.

Other St. Louis and Missouri leaders also condemned the violence at the nation’s Capitol. Missouri Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, condemned the violence as "domestic terrorism." And St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson tweeted that “the peaceful transition of power is fundamental to our country's democracy and should never be met with politically motivated assaults and violence as we're seeing unfold at the U.S. Capitol.

“This is an extremely dangerous situation the likes of which we have never seen before,” Krewson said.

Reporters Jaclyn Driscoll and Eric Schmid contributed to this article

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican, (left) and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, speak after Republicans objected to certifying the Electoral College votes from Arizona, during a joint session of the House and Senate to confirm the electoral votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol, Wednesday.
Andrew Harnik / AP
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican, (left) and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, speak after Republicans objected to certifying the Electoral College votes from Arizona, during a joint session of the House and Senate to confirm the electoral votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol, Wednesday.
Congresswoman Cori Bush, D-St. Louis County, poses for a photograph at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Bush became the first Black woman ever to represent Missouri in the U.S. House on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021.
/ The Office of Congresswoman Cori Bush
The Office of Congresswoman Cori Bush
Congresswoman Cori Bush, D-St. Louis County, poses for a photograph at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Bush became the first Black woman ever to represent Missouri in the U.S. House on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021.

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio

Since entering the world of professional journalism in 2006, Jason Rosenbaum dove head first into the world of politics, policy and even rock and roll music. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Rosenbaum spent more than four years in the Missouri State Capitol writing for the Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri Lawyers Media and the St. Louis Beacon. Since moving to St. Louis in 2010, Rosenbaum's work appeared in Missouri Lawyers Media, the St. Louis Business Journal and the Riverfront Times' music section. He also served on staff at the St. Louis Beacon as a politics reporter. Rosenbaum lives in Richmond Heights with with his wife Lauren and their two sons.