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Scalise labels Capitol rioting 'domestic terrorism'

Rep. Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseBoycott sham impeachment The Memo: Biden gambles that he can do it all Biden under pressure to deliver more COVID-19 shots MORE (R-La.) on Wednesday excoriated last week’s violent mob in the Capitol and labeled it “domestic terrorism” in his most extensive remarks to date regarding the deadly riots.

Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican who survived a politically-motivated shooting in 2017, hammered the rioters who stormed the Capitol last week, forcing lawmakers to flee to a secure location. He also panned Democrats who have tied the insurrection to rhetoric from President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE.

“I am still outraged by the domestic terrorism we saw at the Capitol last week, and I condemned it immediately,” Scalise tweeted. “Both the politically-motivated gunman who shot me on a baseball field and the anarchists who rioted at the Capitol were radicalized by extreme rhetoric. It would be naive to think that either of these actions occurred in a vacuum.” 

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“I reject the notion that Wednesday’s attack was justifiable or that antifa led the mob into the Capitol. I also reject the notion that the mob’s actions represent the motivations of the millions of Americans who voted for President Trump or the Republican Party," he added.

Wednesday's Twitter thread came a day after Scalise published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in which he called on lawmakers in both parties to tone down their rhetoric. 

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“What happened last Wednesday went well beyond any candidate’s legal right to contest an election and is another glaring sign that public discourse has gotten out of control. With only days to go until President-elect Biden’s Inauguration, our national temperature is far too high. A powder keg had been smoldering long before Wednesday’s events. For the sake of our country, politicians and media figures—of both parties—have to tone down their rhetoric,” he said.

“It would … be naive to think the shooter arrived at his decision in a vacuum,” Scalise added, referring to the 2017 shooter who nearly took his life. “It would be equally naive to think that the Capitol rioters arrived at their decisions in a void. Violent rhetoric helps radicalize people. Republicans and Democrats alike must have the moral clarity to call this language out whenever it is spoken, not only when it comes from the other side of the political aisle.”

Scalise criticized Democrats for what he cast as an inadequate response to protests that at times turned violent over the summer following the police shootings of Black Americans, though several Democrats disapproved of the violence at the time.

The remarks marked the latest effort by Republicans to toe the line between criticizing last week’s violence at the Capitol while trying to keep the support of a GOP base that still widely backs the president.

Detractors of the White House on both sides of the aisle have laid much of the blame for the Capitol riots at Trump’s feet, pointing to repeated claims that the presidential election was “rigged” and “stolen” from him and comments to supporters before the riot saying “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”