Former President George W. Bush condemned the “insurrection” in Washington D.C. Wednesday and blamed “some political leaders,” after demonstrators broke into the U.S. Capitol building, prompting members of Congress and others to evacuate or shelter in place.
“I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement,” Bush said in a statement. “The violent assault on the Capitol – and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress – was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”
President Trump delivered a speech to supporters in the nation’s capital earlier in the day, doubling down on unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against him.
Later in the afternoon, Capitol Police struggled with protesters for hours after a mob broke in to protest President-elect Joe Biden’s expected Electoral College validation Wednesday. A joint session of Congress had to be adjourned early and postponed as members evacuated, wearing gas masks, to undisclosed locations. Images show that authorities barricaded doors to protect aides, journalists and others inside as an angry mob clashed with police in the halls.
At least one person died from a gunshot wound, according to police.
At least one protester made it to the dais at the head of the Senate floor. Another posed for a photo behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. Senators described in shocked tones how Vice President Mike Pence was rushed to safety when the perimeter was first breached.
“Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation,” Bush continued. “In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law.”
He concluded with a message to Americans still upset with the 2020 election results.
“Our country is more important than the politics of the moment,” he said. “Let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety. May God continue to bless the United States of America.”
President Trump repeatedly encouraged demonstrators to be peaceful and to leave the Capitol, but he also doubled down on unproven rhetoric about how the 2020 election was “stolen” and was eventually suspended from Twitter.
Pence, who spearheaded the National Guard response to restore order rather than President Trump, condemned the mayhem and vowed that agitators would face criminal prosecution.
At 7:30 p.m., reports emerged that members of Congress were headed back to the Capitol and return to the validation debate. A Pence spokesman confirmed that the vice president had also returned to reconvene the joint session.