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George W. Bush says he was 'disgusted' by Capitol riots

Former President George W. Bush recounted his reaction to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots in an interview released Thursday, saying that he was "disgusted" by what transpired. 

In an interview recorded Feb. 24 with The Texas Tribune that is part of the SXSW 2021 online festival, Bush said that the events of the day left him "disgusted." The former president participated in the event to promote his new book, "Out of Many, One: Portraits of America's Immigrants." 

"I can't remember what I was doing, but ... I was sick to my stomach ... to see our nation's Capitol being stormed by hostile forces," he told the Texas newspaper's CEO Evan Smith. "And it really disturbed me to the point where I did put out a statement, and I'm still disturbed when I think about it."

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The former president added that the insurrection that ripped through Washington earlier in the year was not an expression of peaceful protest. 

"It undermines rule of law and the ability to express yourself in peaceful ways in the public square," he said. 

On Jan. 6, a mob of former President TrumpDonald TrumpSunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Navajo Nation president on Arizona's new voting restrictions: An 'assault' on our rights The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez MORE's supporters marched to the Capitol building following a speech by Trump, where he encouraged supporters to demand that Congress halt the certification of President BidenJoe BidenWarren calls for US to support ceasefire between Israel and Hamas UN secretary general 'deeply disturbed' by Israeli strike on high rise that housed media outlets Nation's largest nurses union condemns new CDC guidance on masks MORE's Electoral College win. 

Trump also alleged that the election was tainted by widespread voter fraud, a claim that has been refuted by both state and federal elections officials as well as a number of failed election lawsuits in multiple states.

The mob of supporters eventually breached Capitol security, broke windows, ransacked lawmakers' offices and forced staff, journalists and members of both chambers of Congress to hide in undisclosed locations on the grounds. The insurrection thus far has resulted in hundreds of charges and arrests and led to Trump's second impeachment on a charge of incitement.

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During the interview, Smith also pressed Bush on whether he thought that the 2020 election was "stolen." The former president said "no." 

Bush then acknowledged the skepticism and anger toward the government, but commended the record number of voters who participated in the 2018 and 2020 elections. 

"It shows the vibrancy of democracy," Bush said, according to the Tribune. "That's a telltale sign that people want to get engaged in the system and that they were willing to go vote."

"Look, politics has always been rough ... And right now we're at a period of time, though, when there's a lot of anger in the system, which then causes people to worry about the future of our democracy," he said. "I think it's going to eventually work its way out of the system."

The Texas native and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush, attended Biden's inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20. Bush issued a formal statement in November congratulating Biden and Vice President Harris on their electoral win. 

"Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country," Bush said at the time.