Barack Obama Calls Riots at US Capitol a 'Moment of Great Dishonor and Shame in Our Nation'
By Liz Calvario
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Barack Obama is urging Americans to stay united. Donald Trumpsupporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, violently taking over the building, claiming election fraud and protesting the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 election.
The former president released a poignant statement following the unprecedented riots, calling them "a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation."
"History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation," Obama began. "But we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise."
"For two months now, a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth -- that this was not a particularly close election and that President-Elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20," he continued. "Their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo."
Obama added that at this moment, "Republican leaders have a choice made clear in the desecrated chambers of democracy. They can continue down this road and keep stoking the raging fires. Or they can choose reality and take the first steps toward extinguishing the flames. They can choose America."
The former president continued that he's "been heartened to see many members of the President’s party speak up forcefully today."
"Their voices add to the examples of Republican state and local election officials in states like Georgia who’ve refused to be intimidated and have discharged their duties honorably," he noted, adding, "We need more leaders like these — right now and in the days, weeks, and months ahead as President-Elect Biden works to restore a common purpose to our politics. It’s up to all of us as Americans, regardless of party, to support him in that goal."
Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton also released statements earlier in the day.
"Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation. In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law," Bush expressed in part. Read his full statement below.
Clinton added in his own statement, "Today we faced an unprecedented assault on our Capitol, our Constitution, and our country. The assault was fueled by more than four years of poison politics spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in our system, and pitting Americans against one another."
"The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost," he added. "The election was free, the count was fair, the result is final. We must complete the peaceful transfer of power our Constitution mandates."
The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost.
The election was free, the count was fair, the result is final. We must complete the peaceful transfer of power our Constitution mandates.
If that’s who we really are, we must reject today’s violence, turn the page, and move forward together—honoring our Constitution, remaining committed to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
President-Elect Joe Biden also made a televised speech, also calling the riots an "insurrection" and adding, "The scenes of chaos in the Capitol do not reflect true America, do not represent who we are. This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It’s bordering on sedition. And it must end, now. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward."
He also encouraged Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and go home, which he did moments later in his own video from the White House. The video -- which also included claims of election fraud -- was later removed by many social media platforms, with Facebook's VP of integrity Guy Rosen saying it was in efforts to diminish "the risk of ongoing violence."
Congress has since reconvened for the Electoral vote after rioters stormed the Capitol.