As Washington continued to reel from Wednesday’s deadly assault on the Capitol by pro-Trump supporters, U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is supporting every effort to hold the president accountable.
Kirkpatrick, who represents Green Valley and most of Sahuarita, has also signed a resolution to condemn “Republicans’ attempts to overturn the election,” a reference to 147 GOP members of Congress who objected to the certification of electoral votes based on unproven claims of widespread voter fraud.
That list included all four of Arizona’s GOP representatives, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko, David Schweikert and Andy Biggs.
By Saturday, the president had seen two Cabinet members and several other high-profile Republicans resign. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat banned him from their social media platforms, and there were growing cracks in his support among Republicans, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska calling for him to resign and suggesting she might leave the GOP.
Another blow Friday came from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called on Trump to resign or face fast-tracked impeachment proceedings, a move Kirkpatrick supports.
In a statement, Pelosi also said the House would “preserve every option” to remove Trump, including using the 25th Amendment, which requires the vice president and a majority of the cabinet to declare him unfit. There is no indication Vice President Mike Pence would support the effort and it is unlikely to happen.
One article of impeachment was being drawn up over the weekend, accusing Trump of inciting an insurrection.
In a statement Thursday, Kirkpatrick said, “While I am still shocked and saddened by yesterday’s events, it’s become blatantly clear that President Trump should not and cannot remain in office.”
The reactions came two days after a rally in front of the Capitol turned violent as thousands of pro-Trump supporters rushed police, broke through barricades and smashed their way into the building as Congress was in session.
Earlier in the day, Trump addressed the crowd in front of the White House, telling them, “All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical Democrats. We will never give up. We will never concede. It will never happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.”
The crowd then made the short walk to the Capitol and eventually pushed their way in. Five people died, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and 35-year-old female Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt. Three others, two men and a woman, died in what were termed medical emergencies.
On the ground
“I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” said Ron Barber, Southern Arizona director for Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., on Wednesday.
He said Kelly was ushered off the Senate floor with colleagues “and taken to a safe location.”
“He is absolutely determined to get back into session tonight to finish,” said Barber, a former U.S. representative.
That happened, with Congress finishing the job of certifying the votes.
Abigail O’Brien, Kirkpatrick’s chief of staff, was reached Wednesday at a safe location they were taken to away from their office on the third floor of the Cannon House Office Building. O’Brien said she, Kirkpatrick, the congresswoman’s husband and another staff member had been evacuated earlier because of a suspicious package near the building, then allowed back in only to be evacuated again about 1:15 p.m. Washington time. They remained in the secure location for about the next nine hours, she said.
“You see the buildings you go into every day swarmed and attacked and it’s very jarring,” O’Brien said Wednesday.
O’Brien said Friday that there have already been discussions about permanent internal and external security improvements at the Capitol.
“Also, lots of future discussion around security protocols for members at their homes and district offices,” she said.
Two days after the incident, O’Brien said the staff was still processing what happened.
“It’s not clear what happened in my mind at all. When you have such large crowds like that. .. you don’t really know what’s going on,” she said.
She said much of the staff has been working from home because of COVID-19 protocols, and that, “We’d told D.C. staff not to come in because we expected some sort of chaos with the event.”
Shelley Kais, the newly elected chair of the Pima County Republicans and a Sahuarita resident, said Wednesday that the display in Washington was a bad ending to what everybody expected to be a tense day.
“It was interesting to see the Republicans stand up for the president when they arrived this morning. It was disappointing to see the events that ensued when they stormed the capitol,” she said.
“I do believe that people are angry about the outcome of the election,” Kais said. “But you have to go back to the root of this — people feel that their voice has not been heard. There are at least 40 million people who feel they have been disenfranchised.”
“We are in trouble in our country when they feel the only way they can be heard is to storm a capital building, or let’s go back a few months, tear down a statue or start a business on fire.”
Kais was attending a meeting of the Quail Creek Republican Club when reached by a reporter and said, “It’s a split room.”
“The discussion is across the whole spectrum as it will be at people’s kitchen tables tonight,” she said.
Yale Wishnick, president of United Republicans of Green Valley and Sahuarita, said Wednesday night that he had “a very, very different reaction to what happened today.”
He said there was no evidence that the crowd that entered and ransacked part of the Capitol were Trump supporters. Wishnick said his group will continue to demand that the GOP “be changed and transformed into an organizing party where it stops this nonsense.”
There was no credible evidence that the rioting involved antifa or groups other than supporters of the president.
Kelli Ward, the state GOP chair, kept things partisan on Twitter: “You know what could have prevented this? #ElectionIntegrity and full transparent investigations into 2020 fraud. Audits, eyes on paper ballots, full audit of ALL digitally adjudicated and all duplicated ballots, full evaluation of Dominion machines. Remember: Democrats refused.”
She later announced, “I’m taking a 12 hour break from Twitter. The main reason I’m here is to hear directly from President Trump and now that’s forbidden by the #Twittergods.”
On Saturday, about eight supporters of President Trump waved flags at Esperanza and La Canada in Green Valley. There were none at Continental Shopping Plaza, which has been a popular site for supporters to gather.