Pro-Trump protesters storm Electoral College vote confirmation, senators evacuated
Congress reconvenes later to confirm Biden’s victory
Last updated 5/5/2021 at 8:51am
Pro-Donald Trump protesters stormed the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Wednesday, interrupting a joint congressional hearing to count and confirm the electoral college’s votes in the 2020 General Election that resulted President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Trump.
The protesters breached barricades, forcing lawmakers to be evacuated from the building for their safety, but the lawmakers have since reconvened and confirmed the college’s votes despite objections from many Republican members of Congress, with Vice President Mike Pence declaring Biden the winner.
During the chaotic afternoon the National Guard was activated and a protester who was shot in the chaos died. News agencies are reporting at least three more deaths and more than a dozen officers were injured and dozens of protesters arrested at the protest.
The vote was overshadowed by the stated intentions of 12 U.S. Republican senators including Steve Daines, R-Mont., and some 100 Republican members of the House including freshman Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., to object to the electoral results from several states that they have called disputed due to accusations of voter fraud and election irregularities.
The Department of Homeland Security, in a statement after the election, said it was the most secure in U.S. history and more than 50 lawsuits filed by the President Trump’s campaign and his allies have been thrown out due to a lack of merit.
Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, who has since resigned, also said no widespread fraud occurred during the election.
In a statement sent to the Havre Daily News, Daines spokesperson Katie Schoettler said the intent was always to increase the public’s faith in the electoral process, not to overturn the election.
However, she said, in the wake of the violence at the capitol, Daines would affirm the votes.
“Congress’ role to count the electoral vote was a platform to raise these priorities. That’s why he objected to Arizona,” Schoettler said. “In light of the deplorable violence, and the assault on our constitution and law enforcement, the senator believed it was best for our nation to move forward with as much unity as possible, and affirm the results. The senator will continue fighting for election reform through all legal and peaceful means.”
Rosendale issued a statement Wednesday evening saying he intended to continue his opposition to the vote confirmation despite the violence.
“Today is an absolutely terrible day,” he said. “I have always condemned and will continue to condemn political violence in all forms. It has no place in our country.
“However, I will not be intimidated by mob violence from the left or the right. I will oppose certification of electors from certain disputed states. These votes today were always about preserving and protecting the integrity of our election process, not any candidate. I will continue to work to ensure our elections are free and secure and every legal vote is counted and every fraudulent vote is rejected.”
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who had condemned the objections of his fellow lawmakers, put out a tweet Wednesday afternoon about the ongoing chaos.
“The violent actions we are seeing today at our nation’s capitol are an affront to our democracy and have no place in America,” he said.
The violence was similarly condemned by Montana Senate President Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell, and Speaker of the house Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale, in a joint statement.
“We are blessed in Montana to have a long tradition of respectful and spirited dialogue and peaceful expression of diverse viewpoints through our First Amendment rights,” the statement said. “Violence is not an acceptable response to political differences. Already this week, we’ve had multiple peaceful demonstrations here at the State Capitol in Helena. We encourage Montanans to continue serving as an example for the nation during these times of intense division.”
The Montana Republican Party also condemned the rioting.
“As Americans, we are privileged to have a First Amendment Right that gives us freedoms that are the envy of the world, however, today’s events at the U.S. Capitol fell far short of what makes this country great, ” Montana Republican Party Chari Don “K” Kalstchmidt said in a released statement. “Any and all acts of violence have absolutely no place in this great country and certainly do not represent the principles or values of the Montana Republican Party.”
Democrats in the legislature responded as well.
House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, D-Helena, put out a statement as chaos continued Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re watching the events in D.C. with heavy hearts, and a deep concern for both the safety of all those in our nation’s capital, and our country’s collective faith in the Democratic process,” she said. “This is a critical moment for our country. We will do everything we can to lead by example — and we ask all of our partners in public service to do the same.”
Senate Minority Leader Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena, released a statement condemning not just the violence but political leader’s who’s rhetoric she said encourage such behavior.
“I am deeply disturbed by the violence that has taken place in our nation’s capital and my heart aches for our country and everyone impacted,” the statement said. “Our country deserves leaders that will do more than condemn the violence attempting to prevent the peaceful transfer of power and immediately put an end to the baseless claims and dangerous rhetoric that got us here today.”
Former Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock also condemned those pushing false claims of election fraud on in a tweet.
“Perpetuating fraudulent, baseless and dangerous claims has consequences,” the tweet read.
Former Democratic Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, who lost the gubernatorial race to then-U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., in November, was more specific and blunt in his own tweet Wednesday.
“Good job, Steve Daines, Matt Rosendale and Donald Trump. You are responsible for today’s chaos,” he said.
Montana Democrats also put out a statement regretting the events in Washington D.C., but like Bullock and Cooney, connected the events to the objections made to a secure election and the ones making them.
“The violence we are witnessing in our nation’s Capitol is alarming, and it is a direct result of efforts to undermine faith in our free and fair elections,” said Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Sandi Luckey. ”Make no mistake: this violence was enabled by the dangerous, baseless claims of election fraud by Steve Daines, Matt Rosendale, and Greg Gianforte. This is not how we do things in Montana.”
President Donald Trump early this morning stated that he was committed to an orderly transition of power after the confirmation of President-Elect Biden’s victory while still falsely claiming that the election was stolen.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol saying, among other things, “We will never conceded.”