Politics and Government

Minnesota's congressional delegation denounces mob activity at U.S. Capitol

Mob breaches the U.S. Capitol.
A Trump supporter holds a Trump flag inside the U.S. Capitol Building near the Senate Chamber on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Win McNamee | Getty Images file

Updated: Jan. 7, 1:18 p.m. | Posted: Jan. 6, 9:40 p.m.

Members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation sent out their response as dozens of President Donald Trump supporters breached security perimeters and entered the U.S. Capitol as Congress was expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden’s presidential win.

Dean Phillips
U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips.
Courtesy image

Rep. Dean Phillips, who represents Minnesota’s 3rd District, said he believed it was a miracle that there wasn’t more bloodshed due to the violence. While the Capitol had to be secured, he said it was important to resume the certification of the election.

“We have to go back and finish this. Those who broke into the Capitol today, did so to disrupt one of the most sacred and important responsibilities of those of us in Congress, to certify the presidential election,” Phillips said. “It is incumbent upon us to finish it, and we intend to do so.”

Phillips, known for his efforts to work with lawmakers across the aisle as a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, confirmed reports that he was heard yelling on the floor at Republicans, “This is because of you!” as the House went into recess in order to seek shelter.

“Those who know me know I do my very best to be a voice of reason,” Phillips said. “But I would be lying if I didn’t say that the last four years have unfortunately seen a Congress filled with many who lack courage, who have enabled a president who will surely now go down as the most destructive to our nation, our Constitution.

“In that moment, I expressed what I think so many in our country are feeling.”

Rep. Dean Phillips speaks to MPR News host Tom Crann

He added that while he’s disappointed, he will continue to work with Republicans and “reestablish the foundations of our democracy.”

Phillips said he has heard from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that they may consider steps to remove Trump from office. Fellow Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar has said in a statement that she plans to draw up articles of impeachment.

"I do believe our founders anticipated a president like this one," Phillips said. "I do hope the experience of this day, which has left an indelible mark on all of us might, might inspire the better angels amongst us — particularly on the other side of the aisle from me — to join hands in reestablishing the standards of an American president."

But Phillips said the first priority for Congress is to affirm the election of President-elect Joe Biden.

“I do think here in the next 24 hours we might see more raise their voices and speak some truth to power, even if it only is for 14 more days.”

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum poses for a portrait
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum
Tony Saunders | MPR News 2018

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, of Minnesota’s 4th District, said she blames Trump for the extremists who stormed the nation's Capitol Wednesday.

The Democratic lawmaker from St. Paul said Wednesday’s events amount to “a sad day” for the country and a “stain” on Trump's legacy. She said the outgoing president needs to undo the damage.

"He lost the election. He lost it fair, he lost it square, and he needs to tell his supporters that the time for peaceful transition is now. It's immediate. And he should for once in his life stand up and be the leader this democracy deserves,” McCollum told MPR News host Tom Crann Wednesday from Washington D.C.

Rep. Betty McCollum speaks to MPR News host Tom Crann

McCollum said she and her staff are safe.

McCollum says she's confident the National Guard and law enforcement will restore the Capitol from what she called "rioters and thugs."

U.S. Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota’s 2nd District told MPR News from the Capitol that she was in the House gallery and had just left to take a phone call when violent Trump supporters began to breach the Capitol. She was sheltering in place within the Capitol grounds when MPR News reached her.

She said she’s ready to return to the process of confirming the Electoral College vote, adding that the responsibility for the violent attack rests on the shoulders of Republican party leaders.

A woman with dark hair wearing a blue suit jacket
U.S. Rep. Angie Craig.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

“The president certainly brought this on, but some of my colleagues also brought it on by not standing up to the lies being told to the American public,” Craig said. “We know that these were free and fair elections administered in every single state, adjudicated in 60 plus court cases around the country.”

Craig said she took the oath of office for her second term, and the oath includes enemies “foreign and domestic,” and that requires standing up for the country’s democratic process.

Rep. Angie Craig speaks to MPR News host Tom Crann

“I need to see my colleagues across the aisle condemn what we are seeing, and not just the violence we saw today and the lack of law and order. I don't want to ever hear about law and order again,” she said. “What I need to hear from them is that this country matters more to them than their political careers and to sucking up to any politician.”

Craig said Congress will certify the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden and that democracy would prevail.

Social media responses from members of Minnesota delegation

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, Republican, 6th District

U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, Republican, 1st District

U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, Republican, 8th District

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, Democrat, 5th District

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Democrat

Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar also appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” after she made the official announcement Thursday morning that the 2020 election was over and the nation would have a new president. She was one of four members of Congress to be selected to tally the Electoral College vote. She officially reported the results to Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over a joint session of the House and Senate.

On Thursday, she told MPR News the federal government is ready to move forward, and that she doesn't see a repeat of the mob violence at the U.S. Capitol.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar talks with MPR News host Cathy Wurzer

She said she has already seen a marked increase in security on the streets of Washington D.C. Thursday morning.

She said Congress will also be launching an investigation into the attack.

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, Democrat

Minnesota's delegation on election results

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