Kansas congressmen condemn Capitol rioting, still object to election results

Jonathan Riley
Rioters storm the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon as lawmakers inside debate the certi-fication of the presidential election.

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Congress confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as winner of the November presidential election early Thursday after a day of chaos and violence in Washington, DC, that delayed the vote scheduled for Wednesday and left four people dead.

Members of Kansas’ congressional delegation unanimously condemned Wednesday’s rioting and storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump — but several of them still voted to object to certifying election results from Arizona and Pennsylvania.

“Freedom of speech and the freedom to protest are provided in our Constitution, and while I share the same frustrations many Americans have over the presidential election, the violence and mob rule which occurred at the US Capitol today, and across the country over the past year, are unacceptable, and I condemn them at the highest level,” said Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas).

Nevertheless, Marshall, who was sworn in as a US senator this week after two terms in the House and an election win in November, was one of just six senators to object to certifying Arizona’s electors.

“We must restore faith and confidence in one of our Republic’s most hallowed patriotic duties: voting,” Marshall said. “There is no question our US Constitution empowers state legislatures to execute free, legal and fair elections. Unfortunately, in several states the clear authority of those state legislatures to determine the rules for voting were usurped by governors, secretaries of states and activist courts.”

Marshall added that “we must and will have a peaceful transition to power.” Wednesday in Washington, however, was anything but peaceful.

Before members of Congress were able to vote on certifying the election results, they were forced to temporarily evacuate the Capitol Building when it was stormed by members of a huge mob that had gathered outside for a rally in support of Trump and his claims of widespread election fraud.

Four people died in the ensuing chaos, including one woman — reportedly a 35-year-old Air Force veteran from California named Ashli Babbitt — who was shot and killed by police. Another woman and two men “died after suffering medical emergencies around the Capitol grounds,” according to Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department Acting Chief Robert Contee.

Several dozen people were arrested, although there were “thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions as they stormed the United States Capitol Building,” according to a US Capitol Police press release. Rioters broke windows, ransacked lawmakers’ offices, attacked police “with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants, and took up other weapons," according to the USCP. One officer was reportedly “snatched into a crowd” and then “beaten and tased repeatedly.”

Police found two pipe bombs left at the national committee headquarters of the Republican and Democratic parties and safely detonated them. Police also reportedly found “a cooler full of gasoline bombs and a long gun” in a car on the Capitol grounds.

Like Marshall, Kansas’ three GOP House members condemned Wednesday’s violence, while also voting in favor of objecting to Arizona and Pennsylvania’s electors. “Other objections to results from Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin fizzled,” the Associated Press reported.

Rep. Tracey Mann (R-KS 1st District) and Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS 4th District) both voted in favor of the objections, while also issuingstatements on Twitter calling Wednesday’s rioting “unacceptable.”

Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-KS 2nd District), who represents most of eastern Kansas outside of the Kansas City area and who, like Sen. Marshall, was recently sworn into his new position after winning in the November election, also condemned the violence.

“The lawless behavior at the U.S. Capitol is reprehensible and has no place in our country. This is a stain on American history, and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” LaTurner said on Twitter, adding that the rioting was “un-American and an utter betrayal” of the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to peacefully assemble.

Like his GOP colleagues representing Kansas in the House, though, LaTurner still voted to object to counting Arizona’s Electoral College votes for Biden. LaTurner then left the Capitol and did not vote on further objections, however, after learning he had tested positive for COVID-19.

“Congressman LaTurner took the test as part of Washington DC’s travel guidelines that requires visitors be tested,” LaTurner’s official Twitter account said in a tweet early Thursday morning that appeared to have been written by a staff member. “He is not experiencing any symptoms at this time.”

LaTurner wasn’t the only politician who had his staff managing his social media early Thursday morning.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” President Trump said in a statement tweeted by White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino. Trump had previously urged his supporters to come to Washington for the rally that turned violent Wednesday.

In Topeka, about 200 Trump supporters also rallied at the Statehouse on Wednesday. Although dozens of them reportedly entered the building, they did so legally through its security checkpoint, and no arrests were reported.

Sen. Jerry Moran and Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS 3rd District) both condemned Wednesday’s violence in Washington, DC, but did not vote to object to the election results.

“We were reminded today just how fragile our democracy is — and just how much work it takes to keep it,” Davids said on Twitter. “So even on one of the darkest days in our nation’s recent history, our work continues.”

Moran, meanwhile, was the sole GOP member of the state’s congressional delegation who did not object to certifying Biden as the winner of the election.

“I condemn the violence and destruction at the U.S. Capitol in the strongest possible terms,” Moran tweeted. “It is completely unacceptable and unpatriotic.”

People stand atop a police armored vehicle during protests at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.