U.S. Rep. Ron Kind slammed congressional Republicans, saying mayhem in the U.S. Capitol stemmed directly from “unfounded accusations lacking any evidence or facts about voter fraud in this election.”
“What did they expect the reaction to be? They have unleashed dark forces in our society now who would think that this is entirely appropriate to attempt a coup d’etat of our government because of what they’ve been led to believe,” the La Crosse Democrat told reporters during a video call.
Calling from his office roughly an hour after protesters first breached the Capitol, Kind indicated he and his staff were safe but said he was “not ceding any ground to these hooligans.”
He also criticized Trump for “encouraging this type of activity.” Kind added it would ultimately make little difference in the short term as some members of Congress, including Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, indicated they would raise objections to the Electoral College votes.
“We all know that there’s wide bipartisan support opposing what some of my colleagues are attempting to do,” he said. “But I’m worried about tomorrow and what the next authoritarian wannabe who takes a run at our Constitution is going to accomplish based on the precedent that’s being set today in our nation’s Capitol.”
He also said he wanted to get back to counting the Electoral College votes “as soon as we’re allowed to get back in” to the House chamber. That happened last night around 7 p.m.
Members were cleared from the chamber and given gas masks after protestors breached the Capitol perimeter and began working their way to the House and Senate chambers.
Kind also took aim at his 2020 opponent Derrick Van Orden, accusing him of standing “side-by-side with these hooligans in their assault against the Capitol.”
Van Orden was in Washington, D.C., during the rally to support the president and posted on social media about his travel.
Kind said the violence was “not unexpected” with the president tweeting at backers “that this was going to be ‘wild.’”
“I’m just so terribly disappointed that my own political opponent in the most recent election is out there standing side by side with this carnage that’s taking place,” Kind said.
Van Orden, in a phone interview from D.C., rejected Kind’s characterization.
Van Orden said he traveled to D.C. in a three-bus caravan of people from the La Crosse area. He said he wasn’t close enough to Trump late this morning to hear his speech in which he declared, “We will never give up. We will never concede.”
As the “craziness” started happening around the Capitol, he said he left the area.
Van Orden stressed he renounces all forms of political violence and it was inappropriate for Kind to lump him in with domestic terrorists.
“We cannot say as Republicans that we’re the party of law and order and then break the law,” Van Orden said. “I will have no part of it. I don’t care if you’re wearing a Trump hat or a Biden hat or if you’re part of antifa or whatever group. I will not participate in any form of political violence.”
— Hours earlier, Kind had slammed objections by some GOP lawmakers to battleground states’ Electoral College votes as “an abuse of our constitutional prerogative and power.”
“It’s the precedent that’s being set now that if your preferred candidate doesn’t win, it must only be because of election fraud and that the game was stacked and that there was some illegal behavior taking place,” he told the DC Wrap Interview Series. “If we lose the ability for a peaceful transfer of power in our democracy, and that is what’s being challenged on the floor in Congress today, democracy dies and dictatorship reigns.”
The La Crosse Dem also predicted the razor-thin margins of projected unified Dem government in Washington would lead to one of two outcomes: “complete gridlock paralysis, nothing getting done, constant state of political warfare” or “more outreach, more listening, more respect across the aisle.”
“There are ways for us to work together across the aisle to get things done,” he said. “A divided government demands that to accomplish anything and we’ll see in the coming weeks just what type of attitude my colleagues take and their approach to this session of Congress.”
Kind also said lawmakers are in a “wait-and-see” mode on another COVID-19 relief package and said he expected the incoming Biden administration “to make the extra effort and go the extra mile to try to find common ground with our Republican colleagues.”