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GOP senators blame Trump after mob overruns Capitol

GOP senators blame Trump after mob overruns Capitol
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Republican lawmakers voiced frustration with President TrumpDonald Trump Pence said he's 'proud' Congress certified Biden's win on Jan. 6 Americans put the most trust in their doctor for COVID-19 information: poll OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Biden administration to evacuate Afghans who helped US l Serious differences remain between US and Iran on nuclear talks l US, Turkish officials meet to discuss security plans for Afghan airport MORE on Wednesday after rioters stormed the Capitol seeking to disrupt Congress's counting of the Electoral College vote.

Trump has for months offered baseless claims that the election was "rigged" and encouraged his supporters to gather in Washington, including urging them to take to the Capitol lawn. On Wednesday, a pro-Trump mob invaded the Capitol, damaging and vandalizing the building, including both chambers and leadership offices.

GOP lawmakers, many of whom have stuck closely with Trump since he came to power in 2017, pointed to his rhetoric as a driving factor behind Wednesday's violence.

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"We witnessed today the damage that can result when men in power and responsibility refuse to acknowledge the truth. We saw bloodshed because a demagogue chose to spread falsehoods and sow distrust of his own fellow Americans. Let's not abet such deception," Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) said from the Senate floor.

Asked if he thought Trump's rhetoric caused the riots, Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal Overnight Defense: Senate panel delays Iraq war powers repeal | Study IDs Fort Hood as least-safe base for female soldiers | Pentagon loosens some COVID-19 restrictions MORE (R-S.D.) said he hadn't seen all of the president's comments but "he certainly did not help."

"If anything, he urged in a very emotional situation, very inappropriate action by people that appear to be his supporters," Rounds said.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOn The Money: Biden announces bipartisan deal on infrastructure, but Democratic leaders hold out for more Trump's biggest political obstacle is Trump The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population MORE (R-S.C.), who has aligned himself closely with Trump, said in a fiery floor speech that he had tried to support the president but "enough is enough."

"Trump and I, we had a hell of a journey. I hate it being this way. ... All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough. ... We've got to end it," Graham said.

Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office GOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Trump dismisses climate change, calls on Biden to fire joint chiefs MORE (R-N.D.) said Trump "bears some responsibility" for the violence at the Capitol.

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"Today in watching his speech, I have to admit I gasped. I mean, first of all his treatment of Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard Pence Pence said he's 'proud' Congress certified Biden's win on Jan. 6 White House did not brief Pence team on swearing him in after Trump COVID-19 diagnosis: book The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senators, White House to meet on potential infrastructure deal MORE ... if there was nothing else, his treatment of Mike Pence is unjustified, wrong and really unfortunate," Cramer said, adding that the president's treatment of his No. 2 was "really irritating."

Cramer added that Trump's election rhetoric, including urging his supporters to gather outside the Capitol, was "inciting" and "pouring fuel."

Wednesday was already expected to highlight one of the biggest divisions between Trump and congressional Republicans, as GOP lawmakers sided with Democrats to affirm President-elect Joe BidenJoe Biden Pence said he's 'proud' Congress certified Biden's win on Jan. 6 Americans put the most trust in their doctor for COVID-19 information: poll US to give Afghanistan 3M doses of J&J vaccine MORE's Electoral College win despite a plan by dozens of their conservative colleagues to make an hours-long, guaranteed-to-fail effort to throw out the results in key battleground states.

The Senate and House both rejected the first challenge to Arizona's election results, in the wake of the riots. But the challenge still got the support of six Senate Republicans and 121 House Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyDemocrats to create select committee to probe Jan. 6 attack The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senators, White House to meet on potential infrastructure deal Defense contractors ramp up donations to GOP election objectors MORE (R-Calif.), supporting throwing out the results.

The joint session comes after Republicans have already broken with Trump on big policy decisions including handing him first veto override just last week.

But the previous schisms paled in comparison to reaction by GOP lawmakers to violence from a pro-Trump mob.

Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyTech antitrust bills create strange bedfellows in House markup 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday 21 Republicans vote against awarding medals to police who defended Capitol MORE (R-Texas) said opposing Trump's attempts to overturn the election "may well sign my political death warrant. So be it." Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyTrump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece Trump has 'zero desire' to be Speaker, spokesman says Liz Cheney hired security after death threats: report MORE (Wyo.), the No. 3 House Republican, pulled no punches when she told Fox News: “There is no question that the president formed the mob, the president incited the mob. ... He lit the flame."

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonJoint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on race theory, 'white rage' Senate Republicans: Newly proposed ATF rules could pave way for national gun registry Jon Stewart shows late-night conformity cabal how political comedy is done MORE (R-Ark.), who has aligned himself closely with Trump, released a statement calling on him to concede.

“It’s past time for the president to accept the results of the election, quit misleading the American people, and repudiate mob violence,” Cotton said.

Trump and his allies have spread unverified claims that the election was stolen even as their election challenges were rejected by dozens of courts and election experts have dismissed claims of widespread election fraud.

Trump first tweeted on Wednesday afternoon urging supporters to "stay peaceful" and support law enforcement without expressly condemning those using force to enter the Capitol. The president tweeted again 35 minutes later to urge "no violence" and emphasizing the need to respect police.

Under growing pressure, he then tweeted around 4:15 p.m. to tell his supporters to "go home" though he continued to praise them and repeat his false claims of election fraud.

"Go home. We love you, you're very special," Trump said in a video posted to Twitter. "I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace."

Twitter later removed the tweets and temporarily suspended Trump's account for violating its policies.

As rioters stormed the Senate, senators were first told to shelter in place before being evacuated to a secure location.

Leaving the area hours later, Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate to vote on elections bill Congress barrels toward debt cliff Excellence Act will expand mental health and substance use treatment access to millions MORE (R-Mo.) was asked if he wanted to hear what Trump had said about the violence. Blunt, a member of GOP leadership, said he didn't "want to hear anything."

"I think it was a tragic day and he was part of it," Blunt said.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP torpedoes election bill; infrastructure talks hit snag White House digs in as infrastructure talks stall On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said Trump's rhetoric "sure didn't help."

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"Certainly encouraging people to go to the Capitol and some of the sort of implied suggestions I think are you know ... they just encourage the wrong behavior," Thune said.

Some of the president's most frequent GOP critics were more direct.

"We gather due to a selfish man's injured pride, and the outrage of supporters who he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States," said Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBiden announces bipartisan deal on infrastructure The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to review infrastructure deal Senators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' MORE (R-Utah) from the Senate floor.

Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseGOP senators applaud Biden for global vaccine donation plans Pence: Trump and I may never 'see eye to eye' on events of Jan. 6 White House: Biden will not appoint presidential Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-Neb.) also directly blamed Trump, who he accused of being "cowered behind his keyboard."

"Lies have consequences," Sasse said. "This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking division."