U.S. Rep. Ken Buck said he’d like President Donald Trump to address the nation and ask for an end to rioting Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol, but that he doesn’t blame the president for inciting the demonstrations.
“I was a prosecutor for 25 years. When people do stupid things, the people that do those things are responsible,” Buck told The Colorado Sun during a brief interview on Wednesday. “The president didn’t order anybody to do this. This is a country that welcomes protest — peaceful protest. I don’t blame the president at all for this.”
Buck, who is also chairman of the Colorado GOP, spoke to The Sun from a safe location that he and his staff had been evacuated to after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as federal lawmakers were set to sign off on the Electoral College results. Buck is the only one of the three Republicans in Colorado’s congressional delegation who wasn’t set to challenge the outcome of the November election, even though he is a Trump supporter.
“I hope that this de-escalates quickly,” Buck said. “I hope that the president addresses the nation and asks for the protests to be disbanded and I really hope that nobody is hurt by all of this. I fear that some people will be hurt.”
Police said a woman who shot inside the Capitol later died. The Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia chief said at least 13 people were arrested, and five firearms were recovered. At least one explosive device was found.
The destructive demonstrations came after Trump spoke to supporters near the Capitol and vowed to continue battling to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump vowed that he would “never concede” and urged the massive crowd to march to the Capitol, where hundreds had already gathered under tight security.
“We will never give up,” Trump told his noontime rally.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is Trump’s attorney, called for “trial by combat” when addressing the crowd.
After the protest at the U.S. Capitol went out of control, Trump tweeted a request that demonstrators remain calm.
The president followed up with a video message asking people to go home. In the same breath, however, Trump continued making unsubstantiated claims that he won the election.
“We love you. You’re very special,” Trump said to his supporters in the video.
Jefferson Thomas, a conservative political consultant in Colorado who ran the president’s 2020 reelection campaign in the state and was also a part of Trump’s 2016 Colorado campaign, tweeted that the riots were “terrible” and “an embarrassment to our country.”
“We are built upon the very institutions these people are trying to ruin,” he tweeted. “This isn’t what I ever imagined when I signed up to #MAGA. Had I known then that this is how it would end, I never would’ve joined.”
Buck said it’s critical that Congress continues its work debating and approving the Electoral College results.
“I hope that we are willing to resume the debate, which is essential,” he said. “I am comfortable that we will have a peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 20. I think the American people need to understand there’s not a single member of the House that doesn’t want to see a peaceful transfer of power.”
Buck said he was on the U.S. House floor when the mob entered the building.
The protesters abruptly interrupted the congressional proceedings in an eerie scene that featured official warnings directing people to duck under their seats for cover and put on gas masks after tear gas was used in the Capitol Rotunda.
“They escorted the speaker out of the speaker’s chair and out of the room. And then they locked the doors of the House floor and about five minutes later they came in and told us that we needed to put gas masks on because the Capitol had been breached and there was tear gas in the Capitol,” Buck said. “About 10 minutes after that, the glass panes on the doors of the House floor were being broken. It almost sounded like gunfire, but it clearly wasn’t gunfire. It was just a metal object breaking the glass on the House floor.”
Buck said members of Congress “were moving heavy objects in front of those doors to try to help the police.”
“Then they evacuated the floor. We went through the tunnels to evacuation points,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, who was not in the Capitol when rioters breached the building, said he does think the president bears some responsibility for Wednesday’s unrest. He said he disagrees with Buck’s statements that the riot wasn’t Trump’s fault.
“He’s wrong if he says the president didn’t have anything to do with this,” Perlmutter said. “… I think the president has a lot of responsibility for this. The incendiary language. The refusing to accept the results of the vote of the people.”
But Perlmutter said he is hopeful that Wednesday will be an inflection point and that the highly charged politics that led to Wednesday’s riot will start to dissipate.
“I’m pissed. And I’m sad. And I’m angry,” he said. “Those are parts of what I feel. I also feel like I’m hopeful in that both sides of the aisle start listening to each other. We tone down the rhetoric. That we try to work together.”
The Colorado Sun tried to reach other members of Colorado’s congressional delegation on Wednesday. U.S. Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, both Democrats, are safe, as is U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Aurora.
Crow, a former Army Ranger and Bronze Star recipient, was photographed taking shelter in the U.S. House gallery. “I knew there was risk of this,” Crow said on MSNBC, questioning why more security preparations weren’t made.
Crow vowed to return to the House and certify the presidential election.
“We have stopped the coup attempt and will be returning to the Capitol today to finish the business of the people,” he tweeted. “We will never back down, we will return.”
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, tweeted that she was safe. U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, said he is safe, too.
The wife of U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, tweeted that the lawmaker is safe.
The chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Rifle, said she and her staff are safe.
In Colorado, the legislative session doesn’t start until Jan. 13 but lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee abruptly adjourned their meeting shortly before 2 p.m. in response to the scene in the nation’s capital, according to a tweet from state Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver.
Dozens of protesters were also gathered at the Colorado Capitol midday. There were no reports of violence or destruction associated with the demonstrations in Denver.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Updated at 8:14 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2021: This story has been updated to correct that U.S. Rep. Jason Crow was in the U.S. House gallery when the U.S. Capitol was breached by rioters.