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Graham rails against security failure at Capitol: Rioters 'could have killed us all'

Graham rails against security failure at Capitol: Rioters 'could have killed us all'
© Greg Nash

GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial Democrats formally elect Harrison as new DNC chair McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February MORE (S.C.) offered withering criticism on Thursday of top Capitol police and Senate sergeant at arms officials, warning that the ability for rioters to breach the Capitol was "mind-boggling."

Graham, speaking to reporters in the Capitol, said he was "embarrassed" and "disgusted" that a pro-Trump mob was able to storm inside, warning that Congress dodged a "major bullet" that the attack wasn't worse.

"They could have blown the building up. They could have killed us all. They could've destroyed the government," Graham told reporters. "Lethal force should have been used. ... We dodged a major bullet. If this is not a wake up call I don't know what is."

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"How could that happen 20 years after 9/11. ... It is mind-boggling that such an event could occur," Graham said.

Graham's remarks are some of the strongest criticism from Republicans in the wake of Wednesday, when the joint session of Congress to count the Electoral College vote was suspended for hours after rioters entered the Capitol eventually vandalizing leadership offices and entering both the House and Senate chambers.

Graham echoed a call from Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCapitol insurrection fallout: A PATRIOT Act 2.0? Schumer calls for DOJ watchdog to probe alleged Trump effort to oust acting AG Student loan forgiveness would be windfall for dentists, doctors and lawyers MORE (D-N.Y.) for Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger to resign. Schumer vowed to fire Stenger on Jan. 20, when Democrats take over the majority, if he hasn't resigned by then.

"Anyone in charge of defending the Capitol failed," Graham said. "The first thing that has to happen is to hold those accountable for failing to defend the nation's Capitol while the Congress was in session."

Videos of rioters in leadership offices and the chambers, as well as clashes with police who were at times outnumbered, have raised questions about the preparation for Wednesday's event.

Graham said that he wants a joint task force to be started to identify any individual who breached the Capitol.

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"There is a ton of video evidence out there," Graham said. "The people sitting in the chairs need to be sitting in a jail cell. ... Sedition may be a charge for some of these people."

Graham said he planned to ask the Justice Department weekly for the next six years, the length of his Senate term, about the progress they are making in charging individuals who rioted in the Capitol.

"How could we not be prepared? How could in a joint session of Congress with the vice president in the building you not do better than this?" Graham asked. "Where were the National Guard?"

Several congressional committees have vowed to investigate how rioters were able to get into close proximity and then into the Capitol. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Kentucky Republican committee rejects resolution urging McConnell to condemn Trump impeachment Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack MORE (R-Ky.) has also vowed a "painstaking investigation and thorough review."

"Initial bipartisan discussions have already begun among committees of oversight and Congressional Leadership," he added.