At least 6 GOP legislators took part in Trump-inspired protests
At least six Republican state legislators from across the nation participated in events surrounding the attempted insurrection at the United States Capitol on Wednesday.
News reports and social media posts showed at least one of the legislators, West Virginia Del. Derrick Evans (R), was among the violent mob that broke into the Capitol building. Evans, who was only recently sworn into office, posted a video of himself entering the building.
“We’re gong in,” he says in the video, in which he is wearing a helmet. He later deleted the post.
Other Republicans who participated in an earlier rally, in which President Trump incited his supporters to violence, said they had not entered the Capitol building. Several condemned the violence wrought by the pro-Trump insurgents, and falsely tried to blame other groups.
“Just a whole heck of a lot of patriots here,” Tennessee state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R) told The Tennessean. “We never experienced any violence.”
Weaver tweeted an image of the unruly mob at the base of the Capitol’s West Front.
Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase (R) falsely denied that any violence had taken place. Chase, who has called for the institution of martial law in the face of a free and fair election that her party lost, accused Capitol Police officers of murder in the shooting death of a California woman inside the Capitol building in a post on Facebook.
Missouri state Rep. Justin Hill (R) skipped his own swearing-in ceremony to attend the rally at the Ellipse. Hill is a former police officer; he marched with protestors to the Capitol, though he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he did not enter the building.
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) organized a busload of protesters from Chambersburg, Pa., to Washington for the rally. He was later photographed outside the Capitol building, though he said in a video on Facebook he had not participated in the violent clashes.
“At no point did we enter the Capitol building, at no point did we tread upon the Capitol steps, and at no point did we tread upon police lines,” Mastriano said in comments reported by WHTM, Harrisburg’s ABC affiliate. “Obviously, we’re there together and we don’t want to get caught in any violence, so we left out of there.”
He called the violence committed by Trump supporters at Trump’s behest “repugnant, disgusting and threatening.”
Michigan state Rep. Matt Maddock (R) addressed a group of protesters at the Capitol building. His wife Meshawn Maddock, who is running to co-chair the Michigan Republican Party, told the crowd “We never stop fighting.” A prominent Michigan Republican activist, Dennis Lennox, called on Michigan Republicans to reject Meshawn Maddock’s candidacy.
Democrats in state capitals and in Washington called on the Republicans who participated in the rally-turned-riot to resign.
“Any Republican legislator who took part in yesterday’s insurrection, in Washington, D.C. or anywhere else in the country, should resign immediately,” said Jessica Post, who heads the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. “Yesterday was a stain on our country’s history and a dangerous affront to democracy — all those involved have no place making laws.”
State capitals have been the scenes of menacing and at times violent protests in recent months, first against restrictions put in place during the coronavirus pandemic and then following President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. Governors and legislative leaders have been targeted and harassed, events that seemed to presage Wednesday’s violence in Washington, where a noose was erected on the Capitol complex.
The FBI broke up a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) last year. On Wednesday, a group of protesters in Salem burned an effigy of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D), and a group of rioters jumped a fence at Washington’s governor’s mansion in Olympia. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) was moved to a secure location.
None of the legislators responded immediately to requests for comment about the violent riots inspired by Trump, or whether they had any evidence of voter fraud that has not been thoroughly debunked.
Updated at 2:05 p.m.
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