January 09, 2021
Trone: ‘No reason for this despicable episode’
Credit: Herald Mail-Media, Julie E. Greene
The first time Capitol Police came to the House Chamber on Wednesday afternoon, they advised members of Congress that the House had been breached on the first floor by protestors, U.S. Rep. David Trone told The Herald-Mail.
All the doors were locked and manned by police while Congress continued to debate the electoral votes from Arizona, Trone said in a phone interview.
About 15 to 20 minutes later, Capitol Police returned because protestors had reached the U.S. Capitol’s Rotunda, just down the hall from the House floor, Trone said. At that point members of Congress were asked to look under their desks and chairs — under every other chair was a box containing two gas masks they were to open in case they were needed.
As the chamber doors were later being pounded, Capitol Police instructed people to put the gas masks on and they exited the chamber, said Trone, who had been in the House gallery.
“There’s no reason for this entire despicable episode. It’s just so wrong to have violence here,” said Trone, a Democrat who represents Maryland’s 6th District.
“I think the bottom line is this whole violence is a deplorable situation. Hopefully, this will be a turning point where the country can say, ‘We need to work together,'” Trone said. “We can’t have this vicious partisan show.”
The focus should be on getting the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone, getting the economy running with restaurants and stores open, helping those with addiction and mental health issues, he said.
“Instead, we’re wasting our time,” Trone said.
While the chairman of the Washington County Republican party said he wanted the demonstrations in support of President Trump in the nation’s capital to remain peaceful, he said it shows how deeply divided the country is.
“This shows that the nation is a tinderbox and people are upset with the election. This is evidence that the people will be heard,” said Jerry DeWolf, chairman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee.
DeWolf, who could not attend the rallies, said it is obvious there was an “epic failure” on the part of authorities to protect the U.S. Capitol when protesters stormed the building.
“I think they let their guard down,” said DeWolf, who said officials will be learning from the mistake for a long time.
At the same time, DeWolf said the protests are a culmination of frustration that Trump supporters have felt for the last four years. He said every time Trump announced something, the media reported the opposite.
And he said it has fueled anger over hoaxes he said have been launched against the president.
A supporter of President Trump, Martinsburg, W.Va., business owner Travis Bishop said he was aware of CS gas being deployed on some “idiots,” but described the rally as “overall very peaceful.
Bishop, who communicated via text message, said he was on the front lawn of U.S. Capitol for Wednesday’s rally. Bishop said he was among about 30 people from the Martinsburg area who attended.
Bishop said the breach of the complex apparently occurred on the back side of the building and “absolutely doesn’t represent the millions protesting peacefully.”
Bishop, who left for Washington at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, said he could barely hear Trump’s remarks earlier in the day, describing conditions as “very loud and windy.”
A Navy veteran and 2016 Republican candidate for the West Virginia Legislature, Bishop said he was joined by “many other veteran brothers and sisters.
“Honestly, it’s the most patriotic experience I’ve ever been blessed to be apart of,” Bishop wrote in a text.
At around 3 p.m., Trone Tweeted, “I am safe. We have been evacuated.
“Let me be clear: we will not be stopped by this lawless intimidation.”
Trone also posted selfies of himself wearing the gas mask.
Trone wasn’t the only Tri-State area Congressional member to talk about wanting to return to finish their work, despite the chaos.
Congressman John Joyce, R-Pa., in an emailed statement via his spokeswoman, said, “Our nation was founded on the resolute principles of freedom of speech and peaceful demonstration. Violent protest is always unacceptable. Like so many Americans, I am deeply saddened by the unlawful attacks on the U.S. Capitol, the People’s House. God bless the brave U.S. Capitol Police and law enforcement.”
Emma Thomson, a spokeswoman for the congressman who represents Franklin and Fulton counties, emailed that Joyce and his staff were safe.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., via an emailed news release, said “We are okay and ready to get back to the Senate chamber to finish our work. These thugs cannot and will not run us off. We will continue to govern.”
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Tweeted “This is the United States of America. This needs to stop right now. We don’t do this. It’s not who we are.”
A spokesperson for Capito emailed that the senator and her staff were safe.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., was locked down in a Senate office building. Staffers said they had been asked not to identify the location more specifically.
“I’m over in one of the Senate office buildings and was headed back to the Capitol when the lockdown started,” Van Hollen said.
“We began the joint session for counting the electoral college ballots and then of course we got to Arizona and both houses went back to their respective chambers. I went through the Senate chamber but then went back to my office (to pick up some materials). That’s when they said we were on lockdown,” he said.
“We’re all on lockdown. I’ve been in conversations with the Capitol Police. I never thought I’d live to see the day when violent mobs would seize control of the United States Capitol. It’s a very sad day for our democracy and made much worse by the fact that the president of the United States has fueled these lies and has been the chief political arsonist,” Van Hollen said. “This is what can happen when you don’t respect our constitution, when you don’t respect the outcome of an election and when you don’t respect the peaceful transfer of power.
“It’s a really, really sad day. I do think it’s important that we stay here until we get the job done, however long it takes to clear the area and return to business.”
Van Hollen said he understood reinforcements were on the way to help Capitol Hill police.
“It’s very important that we reclaim the Capitol for the American people and get back to the business of the Constitution,” he said.
“I am grateful for all the people asking if members of Congress are safe, but really what I worry most about is the future of our democracy and right now it’s under attack from Donald Trump, who’s refused to accept the outcome of an election and you have a lot of Republican senators who seem to be shocked that people believe what they themselves were saying. They were fueling the flames of this false narrative. This is the consequence of actions when people don’t respect the outcome of an election and they essentially call for an insurrection. You get a mob attack on the Capitol. This has to be a moment where the country takes a deep breath. We welcome the next president of the United States who wants to unite the country,” Van Hollen said.
“Obviously this has made things more difficult and President Trump’s effort, trying to poison the well as he leaves, it’s going to make it that much more important that we do find a way to come together and support the next president of the United States,” the senator said.
“People involved in inciting violence and engaged in violence need to be held accountable under the rule of law. That’s something for the days to come for today we need to stabilize the situation, clear the mob out of the Capitol and get back to the business of accepting the results of the national presidential election and adopt the people’s will.”