Statement On The Capitol Riots And Republicans’ Attempt To Overturn The Election

January 6, 2021, will forever mark a historic day for our nation.  Not simply because our beloved Capitol building — the very heart of our democracy — laid under siege.  Not simply because rioters stormed the Senate and House floors, assaulting Capitol Police officers and leaving a wake of destruction along the way.  Not simply because the President of the United States encouraged his supporters to commit these felonies — to march to the Capitol and “to fight,” in his words.  No, today will also be remembered because of what happened before all of that.  Today, over a hundred Members of the House of Representatives, and a dozen Senators, supported a ploy to deprive the states and the American people of their constitutional role to choose our next president.  A ploy that amounts to nothing less than an assault on our constitutional republic.

The President’s obscene claim that the election was stolen from him, which he continued to spout even while his rioting supporters roamed the halls of the Capitol today, has been disproven time and again.  Every single senator knows that Vice President Biden won the election, and did so decisively.  Claims that President Trump won re-election are not just fantasy, they are delusional.  And citing voters’ mistrust in the election results as grounds for this stunt is particularly disingenuous, given that those concerns have been fueled by the President’s own baseless conspiracy theories.  Not by the evidence.  Not by the facts.  And not by state election administrators, both Republicans and Democrats, who actually oversaw these elections and know what they are talking about. 

President Trump and his allies have now lost more than 60 cases in courts across the country, by judges of every political stripe, including those appointed by the President.  The lopsidedness of these decisions has been extraordinary.  It has been nothing less than a wholesale rejection of the President’s claims.  But this is not surprising.  The President’s own Attorney General said there is no evidence of widespread fraud.  His own Department of Homeland Security described it as the “most secure election in American history.”

President Trump serves no one but himself.  He is not a custodian or guardian of our democracy. He is a man who’s every decision is driven by his shallow self-interest.  I did not expect him to be gracious in defeat.  I expected him to throw tantrums.  I’m not even surprised that his rhetoric has incited violence, as it has today.  That’s who President Trump is; we have all known that for some time.  I am surprised and disappointed that so many members of this body have let it get this far.

Our job today is simply to count the votes, and to certify that Joe Biden won the election.  Pretending that Congress could effectively overturn the will of the American people has, predictably, poured gasoline on an already lit fire.  We must now get to work to put this fire out.  I am glad that Congress is taking the first step now—that is, to stop with this nonsense, and certify this election.  The next step will be harder.  The only way we stand a chance of coming together as a country, let alone making progress for the American people, is by working together. 

I am thankful to the many Senate Republicans who have forcefully rejected this dangerous political stunt, even before the violence.  Your words had meaning, and sent a message to the country that our democracy will endure.   

I have served in the Senate for 46 years.   I can tell you that history will remember this sad day.  So let us ensure that it is not just remembered for the destruction, for the President’s recklessness, and for those in Congress who so casually attempted to overturn the will of the American people.  Let us work together now and certify this election, so this day will also be remembered for those who stood up and rejected this dangerous political stunt, for the good of the republic and for the good of the American people.

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