Former Missouri senator says backing Hawley was 'worst mistake of my life'

Former Sen. John Danforth, a key backer of fellow GOP Missourian Sen. Josh Hawley in the 2018 Republican primaries, called that support "the worst mistake of my life" after pro-Trump mobs breached the Capitol Wednesday, seeking to halt Congress's affirmation of the 2020 election results.

"Supporting Josh and trying so hard to get him elected to the Senate was the worst mistake I ever made in my life," Danforth told St. Louis Today in an interview published Thursday.

"Yesterday was the physical culmination of the long attempt ... to foment a lack of public confidence in our democratic system," he added. "It is very dangerous to America to continue pushing this idea that government doesn't work and that voting was fraudulent."

Danforth earlier this week sharply criticized Hawley's announcement that he would raise objections to President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in key states when Congress certified the results Wednesday.

Numerous critics of Hawley have accused him of helping incite the riot, including former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele. While several GOP senators who had said they would object reversed themselves after order was restored, Hawley proceeded.

The Senate "is very familiar to me," said Danforth, who served from 1976 to 1995. "To see it under attack was awful. It was unimaginable."

Even some of Hawley's current GOP colleagues have implied he bears some blame for the riots, though they have not called him out by name. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) placed blame on "some senators" who "for political gain, misled supporters about their ability to challenge the election results."

"[S]ome even sent out fundraising emails while insurrectionists stormed the Capitol," Cotton added, an apparent reference to a Hawley email.

While Cotton, like Hawley, is considered a potential 2024 presidential contender, he opposed the objection to the electoral results.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who also opposed the challenge, tweeted Wednesday that the unrest was the logical outcome of "establishing a precedent that Congress can overturn elections."