The violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday prompted sharp criticism of President Donald Trump by the Washington state congressional delegation, including from one leader who has been a staunch supporter.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane has reversed course, now saying she will uphold the Electoral College vote count and President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
McMorris Rodgers previously said she would object to the Congressional vote, not to overturn the election but to examine allegations of potential fraud, certify that states are protecting election integrity, and ensure people’s voices are heard.
As a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, McMorris Rodgers in a statement called for a "peaceful transfer of power."
The protesters had been egged on by Trump, who since the November presidential election had launched a barrage of false attacks on the integrity of the results.
“What happened today and continues to unfold in the nation’s capital is disgraceful and un-American. Thugs assaulted Capitol Police Officers, breached and defaced our Capitol Building, put people’s lives in danger, and disregarded the values we hold dear as Americans,” she said. "I have decided I will vote to uphold the Electoral College results and I encourage Donald Trump to condemn and put an end to this madness.”
Other members of Washington’s congressional delegation reacted similarly.
Marilyn Strickland, the newly sworn-in Democratic Congresswoman representing Washington’s 10th Congressional District, was in her office monitoring Capitol proceedings on television and getting ready to return there for a vote when she learned that far-right Trump supporters had stormed the Capitol. KNKX reached her in her office, where she and her staff were on lockdown as of midday Pacific time.
“It’s an embarrassment,” she said. “President Trump and his enablers have encouraged this type of behavior through violent rhetoric, and this is all on him.”
Strickland said she expects that Congress will certify Biden's election.
“In the end, I am optimistic that the election will get certified, but I don’t think that anyone who came to work today on the Hill expected this happen,” Strickland explained. “You know, we knew there would be protests – and people have the right to protest – but to breach security, to storm a building, to go inside the Capitol without permission – I tell people you have to go through security just to come in, even when you are taking a tour. And for this to happen, it is unfortunate, and it is a shock to everyone.”
Another Washington representative, Pramila Jayapal, took cover in the upper gallery of the House as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. On a call with reporters, she placed blame on the president.
“Look, if I had my way, we’d impeach him again, right now,” the congresswoman said.
But she says she’s skeptical that would happen. Even so, the Seattle Democrat is calling on Congress to find another way to hold Trump accountable.
“Because if we don’t then it says to any other president who might come along that he or she, too, will not be held accountable,” she said. “So there are the courts, of course, that will proceed with their investigations of the president, but I also think that there needs to be ways that Congress holds this president accountable.”
Jayapal says that could happen in the Judiciary Committee, on which she serves. She says she is confident that Congress will complete its certification of the electoral college results.
Like Jayapal, Democrat Derek Kilmer also went into lockdown at the Capitol. The congressman represents parts of Tacoma and the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas.
He's also a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which seeks common ground between Democrats and Republicans. He says Biden may have to reach into history to help heal the country.
“I have a feeling that Joe Biden might need to tear a page from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, which he gave at the end of the Civil War, when he said ‘with malice toward none, with charity for all,’ and then spoke of binding up our nation’s wounds,” Kilmer said.
Kilmer says he's been in touch with his children throughout the day to assure them he's safe. He says the insurrection will not stop Congress's certification of the election results, though he says it could be a "long night," and the process could even stretch into tomorrow or the next day.
“I think it’s obviously a really dark day for our republic to see a violent mob try to overtake the U.S. Capitol building,” Kilmer said. “I’m reminded of the fact that the confederate flag never made its way into the Capitol building during the Civil War, but it did today.”