Minnesota representatives react to violent protest at US Capitol, Rep. Omar says she's drawing up articles of impeachment

KSTP & Callan Gray
Updated: January 07, 2021 01:13 PM
Created: January 06, 2021 02:06 PM

Members of Minnesota's Congressional Delegation reacted after they were evacuated from the Capitol Wednesday afternoon as pro-Trump protesters breached security and entered the building. 

Congress was holding a joint session to certify November's election results when the protesters descended on the Capitol. 

LIVE VIDEO: Lawmakers evacuating, told to don gas masks after US Capitol breach; DC mayor orders curfew

Late Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar said on Twitter she was drawing up Articles of Impeachment.

"Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate," she said on Twitter. "We can't allow him to remain in office, it's a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath." 

She later released the following statement:

"Today, I watched as armed terrorists stormed the United States Capitol, including the House and Senate chambers, in an effort to stop the certification of our Presidential election. Members of Congress, our families, staff and law enforcement's lives were all put at risk. We should not mince words about what this was: a coup attempt, in the world's leading democracy no less.

"Thankfully, I am now safe in a secure location, but am heartbroken about what we are enduring at our nation's capital. 

"This is not a one-off incident. It is the result of years of collaboration on the part of the Republican Party, who have aided and abetted Trump's criminal attempts to destroy our republic, and the cause of democracy around the world.

"All leaders should denounce this coup. And the President should be impeached and removed from office for his open sedition."

Earlier in the day, the representative said she was heartbroken and spoke of having to run for her life.

"Running for our lives as Members of Congress in the United States is really devastating and totally shocking," she said.

U.S. Rep Dean Philips tweeted that lawmakers were told to take cover and have gas masks ready on the House floor.

“Today was a horrifying day for those of us here in Congress and that were on the floor during our proceedings, Democrats and Republicans,” Rep. Dean Phillips said. “It was probably equally horrifying for every American throughout our country who saw images today and this evening that none of us, no matter one's politics or perspective, probably every anticipated seeing in our country, rather images we're used to seeing in other countries around the world.”

Over the phone, Rep. Phillips described being on the House floor when Capitol Police abruptly stopped their proceedings.

“They ushered the Speaker and Majority Leader out expeditiously and those of us that reminded on House floor could hear noise outside and were told to take cover and put on gas masks, which we did,” Phillips said. “After a handful of moments it was clear that even House chamber was not secure. We were told they were coming down the hall and we literally ran through the myriad of hallways in the U.S. Capitol, through tunnels until we found a secure area protected by police.”

Republican Rep. Pete Stauber told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that he was evacuated from his office, where he was watching the Congressional proceedings.

“We were hearing some flashbangs,” Rep. Stauber, a former police officer, said. “This is part of the tactics you do when you have a crowd that's out of control and being violent and doing criminal activities.”

He also shared concern for the police officers protecting the Capitol.

“I think we need to pray for this nation, for the Capitol Police, the brave men and women who are trying to keep our nation safe,” he said. “This is unacceptable, this is not the American way.”

Republican Reps. Tom Emmer and Michelle Fischbach also decried the events as they unfolded.

Rep. Angie Craig's office issued the following statement:

"Representative Craig is sheltering in place on the Capitol grounds. She is safe, but deeply shocked and heartbroken by the scene and folding at the capital this afternoon. And she is grateful for the capital police officers working to keep members and staff safe and praying for their safety. Angie unequivocally condemns the violent actions being undertaken by supporters of the president, actions that undermine our democracy and threaten the safety of members of Congress, staff, law-enforcement officials and the general public. This is not a peaceful protest, this is a violent attack on our democracy. The events unfolding on capital here are unprecedented in the history of this country. There's absolutely no excuse for this chaos and it is the responsibility of all members of Congress to condemn what we have seen today."

Speaking over the phone with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Rep. Craig expressed disbelief at the protests and subsequent evacuation.

“There have been people who have been injured and hurt,” she said. “This is our democracy at risk. We took an oath this Sunday to uphold the Constitution of the United States, to protect it from enemies foreign or domestic, that is each of our responsibility. These anarchists won’t win, democracy will win.”

Craig was critical of her colleagues' challenges to the election, which she said fueled the violent crowd’s actions.

“We have got to find a way as a country, we have got to find a way as Americans - as Minnesotans - to come together and work together again,” she said. “We cannot allow the fringe and the anarchists to control our country.”

Rep. Betty McCollum, also a Democrat, criticized President Trump for his refusal to accept the results of the election.

“He should stop motivating people to cause insurrection and stop a peaceful transfer of power,” McCollum said. “They’re not protesters, they're rioters. They were acting as terrorists do, stormed the chambers of the Senate and the House to disrupt the Electoral College count, us accepting the Electoral College votes and that's because President Trump has refused to speak the truth that he lost the election and he has these people all worked up somehow that they're going to save democracy, instead what they did today was they trampled on our democracy.”

More tweets from the state's congressional delegation can be found below:

Other Minnesota and Wisconsin politicians and public officials reacted to the events occurring at the Capitol:

Gov. Tim Walz said: "I see the events unfolding in our nation's capital today not just as a Governor, but as a former high school history teacher. The last time our nation's capital was under siege was more than 200 years ago when our country was at war with the British.

"Today, it wasn't a foreign nation that seized the capitol building and attempted an insurrection. It was citizens of our own country, incited by our president and enabled by many political leaders, who made a direct assault on our democracy.

"In my classroom, I taught my students to see moments like this in a greater historical context. We must do that reflection today. President Trump has fanned the flames of hatred and undermined the sacred American institutions he swore an oath of office to protect. And whether it was through the support or silence of other politicians, he didn't do it alone.

"We must recognize that democracy cannot be taken for granted. We ask our soldiers to endanger their lives to defend our democracy abroad—we all have a duty to protect it here at home. That means toning down our rhetoric, bridging divides, and upholding our Democratic ideals.
 
"History is being written today. What will our future students read about this moment in their textbooks? It's on us to ensure today is the end of a chapter. And marks the beginning of when America stood up and stood together."

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said: "Last night, we saw the incredible power of people engaging in democracy in historic numbers in Georgia – only to witness the obstruction of democracy today in Washington, D.C. by people threatening and committing acts of violence in the halls of the United States Capitol. Even during the four years of Civil War, the Confederacy never reached the Capitol Building. But today, the Confederate flag flew within the halls of the United States Congress.

"What happened in Washington, D.C. was un-American, but this type of behavior is also contagious. In Washington and here in Minnesota, we are witnessing what happens when lies undermining our democracy are spread by people at the highest levels of power; when hateful, racist, and divisive rhetoric that pits Americans against Americans goes unchecked; and when those who mean to do harm to others are not condemned by the President, but praised and encouraged.

"I am also horrified by hypocrisy of the rioters in D.C. meeting little resistance by law enforcement as they stormed the Capitol today when compared to the force shown during the Black Lives Matter protests at the White House this summer. We must name this double standard and work to dismantle it if we want to restore faith in our government systems.

"As a mother, I am struggling to explain what happened today to my 7-year old. The terror that our elected representatives, their staff, and journalists covering democracy in action felt today is hard to comprehend. The choice in front of us is clear: to give into division or to come together and rebuild our democracy. Democracy is always a work in progress. We have to tend to it, to care for it, and never take it for granted. We have to decide to end this rhetoric, this behavior, this violence now."

Thursday, the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office and FBI Field Office issued a joint statement: 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota and the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office condemn the violence and terror that took place at our Nation’s Capitol and surrounding area. This was a reprehensible affront to our institution of democracy. We are committed to upholding the rule of law and will hold accountable any individual who traveled from the District of Minnesota to commit illegal, violent acts.


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