Accusing President Donald Trump of inciting violence at the US Capitol, his predecessor Barack Obama has dubbed it a moment of “great dishonour and shame” for the United States.
The statement of the former popular president came hours after thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday, interrupting a joint session of Congress where lawmakers were set to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
“History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonour and shame for our nation. But we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise,” Obama said in a lengthy statement.
Here’s my statement on today’s violence at the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/jLCKo2D1Ya
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 7, 2021
“For two months now, a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth that this was not a particularly close election and that President-elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20,” he said.
“Their fantasy narrative has spiralled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now were seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo,” Obama said.
In the November 3 presidential election, Biden, a Democrat won 306 Electoral College votes while Trump, a Republican, mustered only 232 votes.
Related news: In pictures: Highlights of the US Capitol violence
Obama said, “Right now, Republican leaders have a choice made clear in the desecrated chambers of democracy. They can continue down this road and keep stoking the raging fires. Or they can choose reality and take the first steps toward extinguishing the flames. They can choose America.”
The former president said he was heartened to see many members of Trump’s party speak up forcefully today.
“Their voices add to the examples of Republican state and local election officials in states like Georgia whove refused to be intimidated and have discharged their duties honourably. We need more leaders like these right now and in the days, weeks, and months ahead as President-elect Biden works to restore a common purpose to our politics. It’s up to all of us as Americans, regardless of party, to support him in that goal,” he said.
In a separate statement, former US President George W Bush said he and the former First Lady watched the scenes of “mayhem unfolding at the seat of our nation’s government in disbelief and dismay”.
Statement by President George W. Bush on Insurrection at the Capitol pic.twitter.com/rF77j0fIBK
— George W. Bush Presidential Center (@TheBushCenter) January 6, 2021
“It is a sickening and heart-breaking sight. This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behaviour of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement,” he said.
“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. Insurrection could do grave damage to our nation and reputation,” Bush said.
In the US, he said, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law. “To those who are disappointed in the results of the election: Our country is more important than the politics of the moment. Let the officials elected by the people fulfil their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety,” he stated.
According to former US President Bill Clinton, the “unprecedented assault on our Capitol, our Constitution, and our country” was fuelled by more than four years of “poison politics” spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in the system and “pitting Americans against one another”.
“We must reject today’s violence, turn the page and move forward together honouring our Constitution, remaining committed to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” he said.
“The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost. The election was free, the count was fair, the result is final. We must complete the peaceful transfer of power our Constitution mandates,” the former president tweeted.
Vice President Mike Pence, who was whisked away from the Senate chamber in time condemned the attack on the Capitol by stating that “violence never wins, freedom does”, as Congress returned to work on certifying his boss election loss to Joe Biden.
“We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms. We grieve the loss of life in these hallowed halls, as well as the injuries suffered by those who defended our Capitol today. And we will always be grateful to the men and women who stayed at their posts to defend this historic place,” Pence said in his remarks as he presided over the resumption of the Joint Session of the Congress, which was disrupted after the violence.
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house. As we reconvene in this chamber, the world will again witness the resilience and strength of our democracy, for even in the wake of unprecedented violence and vandalism at this capitol, the elected representatives of the people of the United States have assembled again on the very same day to support and defend the constitution of the united states,” Pence said. Earlier on Wednesday.
Lawmakers demand impeachment of Trump
In the wake of the attack on the Capitol, several US lawmakers have demanded the immediate removal of President Donald Trump from office, alleging that he incited his supporters to storm the premises.
“Today, President Trump attempted to prevent us from completing this responsibility and disrupted democracy,” Congressman Steven Horsford said. His words were echoed by dozens of other lawmakers.
“For the first time since the War of 1812, the United States Capitol was breached today. The violence and insurrection that I witnessed was in direct conflict with the ideals and principles that uphold our democratic institutions, and they are unprecedented in modern times,” Horsford said.
“After today’s violence, I have no other choice but to fulfil my own Constitutional responsibility and call for President Trump’s removal. President Trump must be impeached and removed from office immediately,” he said.
Related news: Chaos at US Capitol: Here’s how the events unfolded
Congressman Earl Blumenauer called for Articles of Impeachment against Trump. He also urged Vice President Mike Pence and members of the US Cabinet to use the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove the president from office as quickly as possible.
“Let’s be clear about what happened here. The President of the United States sent a mob of domestic terrorists down Pennsylvania Avenue to attack and take over the US Capitol in order to stop the certification of an election that he lost badly,” Blumenauer said, adding, “This man needs to be removed immediately and I am hopeful he will face further consequences for his actions.
The 25th Amendment, adopted more than 50 years ago in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination, provides a mechanism for the succession of the president for his or her replacement in the event he or she proves unfit to serve. Under the amendment, the vice president and a majority of either the Cabinet or some other body designated by Congress may remove the president from office. 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 Trumps criminal attempts to destroy our republic, and the cause of democracy around the world, said Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.