‘There’s been a breach of the capitol’: Lawmakers reflect on anniversary of January 6th Capitol riots
DELMARVA – One year ago on Thursday, millions of Americans were glued to their TV screens as hundreds of people stormed the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to shelter in place instead of certifying the 2020 Election results. On the anniversary of that insurrection, lawmakers are reflecting on the day.
“As I was getting on the trolley, the underground trolley, to go to the floor of the Senate, the Capitol Hill Police stopped me, and said ‘Senator, there’s been a breach of the Capitol, please return to your office to shelter in place,” Senator Chris Van Hollen said.
“One year ago today, what should have been a straightforward exercise, a celebration of American government, was disrupted as an angry mob, egged on by President Trump, violently tried to stop the certification of a free and fair election at the seat of our national government,” Senator Chris Coons said in a taped video.
“Five Americans died, hundreds sustained injuries in what has been described as the worst attack on our Capitol since the war of 1812,” Senator Tom Carper said in a speech on the Senate floor.
Lawmakers say it was violence ignited by former President Donald Trump’s lies, about a stolen election and voter fraud.
“The January 6th insurrection occurred because these lies, and let me repeat, lies, were a call to action for white supremacists and other domestic extremists,” Senator Carper said. “He lit a match, fanned the flame of violence, and did nothing to extinguish the fire.”
Former President Trump has since said he called for his supporters to be peaceful that day, pointing to part of his speech that read: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” But while millions across the world watched the attack on live television, Senator Chris Coons says the images coming out of that day made our democracy seem fragile to foreign nations.
“Our adversaries have trumpeted January 6th as a humiliating sign of weakness and disarray, our allies have seen it as a troubling sign of the frame of our society and our democratic system,” Senator Coons said.
Now 365 days later, Senator Chris Van Hollen says our democracy is still fragile.
“Unfortunately one year later, while the physical security of Capitol Hill has improved, I think our democracy is in as great of a danger now as it was,” he said.
But on Thursday, the anniversary of the attack, lawmakers widely agree on one thing: it’s time to heal and to build.
“That means making progress to secure our elections, ensuring that state and local election officials on both sides of the aisle who did their jobs last November, counting the votes, continue to do so in the future, and guaranteeing that those votes can be cast freely and safely,” Senator Coons said.
“I think the most important thing is that we be prepared to stand up and tell the truth, and provide the facts, even for people who have been misled by the narrative of the former president,” Senator Van Hollen said.
Senator Van Hollen says he’d now like to see the Freedom to Vote Act passed, which he says would establish national standards for free, fair voting. All of the lawmakers 47 ABC heard from thanked the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department for their bravery on the day of the attack and their support since that day.