Pro-Trump protesters overtook the Capitol as Congress was certifying the electoral vote, forcing lawmakers to evacuate for safety. The situation quickly spiraled out of control, with rioters entering both chambers and vandalizing offices and statues.
In a statement posted to Twitter by CNN’s Jim AcostaJames (Jim) AcostaDemocrats brace for battle on Biden's .5 trillion spending plan Clyburn: 'You may not need .5 trillion to do what the president wants done' Joe Rogan rips CNN over coverage of ivermectin regimen MORE, Kelly, who’d been critical of President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE since leaving the White House, said he was "horrified" by what took place.
“I watched today’s actions on the Hill brokenhearted. Horrified. That’s not us,” Kelly said. “This is an attack on our democracy, our way of life, and not just by the criminals who assaulted our Congress today.”
Statement from former WH COS, Gen. John Kelly. pic.twitter.com/OXoADsWRug— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) January 7, 2021
Kelly continued by saying the Constitution is strong and that Americans are “overwhelmingly devoted to the rule of law.”
He never named Trump explicitly, but Kelly suggested that Americans need to "look infinitely harder at who we elect" to office.
“We need to look infinitely harder at who we elect to any office in our land. At the office seeker’s character, at their morals, at their ethical record, their integrity, their honesty, their flaws, what they have said about women and minorities, why they are asking office in the first place, and only then consider the policies they espouse.”
Many have blamed Trump for inciting the riot. The president has stoked divisions throughout his tenure and repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims about his defeat in the presidential election.
Kelly ended his statement by praising Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell'Justice for J6' rally puts GOP in awkward spot Republicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally House to act on debt ceiling next week MORE’s (R-Ky.) remarks before the riot, in which he said it would be “unfair and wrong” to overturn the Electoral College vote.
He also praised President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE’s remarks, in which he said the riot “borders sedition and it must end down” and called on Trump to “step up” and condemn the violence.
“Leader McConnell’s remarks this afternoon just before the riots were I think words for the ages and not from a politician, but from a statesman,” Kelly said. “President-elect Biden’s were presidential and right to the heart of what we have to do to heal ourselves. God Bless America.”
Four people died amid the riot, including one woman who was shot and three who suffered “medical emergencies” near the Capitol grounds.