What we saw at the United States Capitol on Wednesday - a mob ransacking the seat of American democracy - was shameful. It was seditious. It was anti-American in every way possible.
Those who participated, those who encouraged it, those who had the power to stop it and did not, must be held accountable. The storming of the Capitol wasn’t a peaceful protest - that had taken place earlier in the day when thousands of people exercised their lawful rights of free expression guaranteed by the First Amendment - this was mob rule attempting to take over the United States Capitol. This was terrorism.
Imagine this scene, as described by Los Angels Times reporter Sarah Wire, “On the floor, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), a former combat Marine, was holding up his escape hood and explaining to other members how to use it. There were about 150 lawmakers down there, and Gallego was shouting to get their attention.”
Let us emphasize: This took place on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Not in a combat zone, not in a war-torn country, but in the chamber where our elected representatives do the work of the people.
There have been suggestions that these were not people who came to hear the president talk; that they were, in fact, “outsiders” who came to take advantage of the situation.
Perhaps there was an element of that, but here’s who we know, for certain, were among the mob who invaded the Capitol: Jake Angeli, he of the painted face, flowing fur and horned hat, familiar in Arizona as a member of Q-anon; Richard Barnett, who invaded Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, is a known Trump supporter from North Arkansas; and Derrick Evans, a recently elected member of the West Virginia Legislature, who recorded - then deleted - video of himself storming the U.S. Capitol.
The one thing all these people have in common is blind loyalty to Donald Trump. It is one thing to support the president and his policies. It is quite another to go to war against fellow Americans while carrying his banner.
Five people died in this attack on the Capitol, including an Air Force veteran, Ashli Babbitt, 35, who was shot while attempting to climb through a shattered window into the Capitol. Babbitt served multiple tours in the Middle East but died trying to breach security at the United States Capitol.
Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, 42, died Thursday of injuries he received defending the United States Capitol. Those who participated in the riot and those who incited it have blood on their hands.
It could have been worse. Police found two pipe bombs in the vicinity and a cooler of molotov cocktails. You know who uses pipe bombs? Terrorists.
There are those who will go through mental gymnastics to defend what happened Wednesday. They will say, “but what about,” or attempt to turn it into something it clearly was not.
What it was, was an attack against our democracy. Ever since George Washington voluntarily gave up the presidency in 1797, the United States has had peaceful transitions of power. What happened Wednesday was the first time in our history that the transition has resulted in violent uprisings.
As former President George W. Bush noted, this is “how elections are disputed in banana republics — not our democratic republic.”
Mick Mulvaney, former Chief of Staff for President Trump and current special envoy to North Ireland, was among the first to resign following Wednesday’s events.
“I can’t stay here, not after yesterday,” he told NBC in an interview Thursday. “You can’t look at that yesterday and think I want to be a part of that.”
No one should want to be a part of that. And those who were, and those who encouraged them and those who defend them should be held accountable for their actions against the United States of America, one nation under God.