Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko anticipated Capitol protests, not magnitude
PHOENIX – U.S. Rep Debbie Lesko of Arizona said she knew protests would happen at the United States Capitol on Wednesday but did not anticipate how severe the situation would become.
“I really did predict that there was going to be a problem, but I did not predict that they were going to break into the U.S. Capitol,” Lesko told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Gaydos and Chad Show.
The House and Senate were set to convene to certify the results of the presidential election that would officially grant President-elect Joe Biden the presidency. As debates were going on, pro-President Donald Trump protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol building, forcing lawmakers to shelter in place while authorities regained control of the situation.
Lesko said she was watching the events on the House floor unfold from a television in her office when people started to be whisked off the floor to safety. She said her phone was flooded with Capitol security alerts, alerting members that protesters were storming the building.
“We were in the middle of a passionate constitutional debate on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, and that’s what’s supposed to happen,” Lesko said.
“That is what’s supposed to happen, not people smashing windows crawling into the Capitol and threatening police officers.”
She noted both her and her staff were safe following in incident, but she was terrified as the events transpired. She said she was shocked police on the scene didn’t do more to control the situation.
“I thought for sure that the police were going to stop them, so this is a truly a lesson that they should have beefed up the police a lot more in advance because, you know, I’m not even a police officer, and I knew that there was gonna, I predicted there was going to be some unrest,” Lesko said.
The majority of the protesters arrived at the Capitol following a rally near the White House where Trump encouraged supporters to march on the Capitol, at times using incendiary language with violent undertones.
Trump later released a video statement on Twitter urging protesters to “go home” hours after the Capitol was stormed, but he took the opportunity to further push baseless allegations of mass voter fraud.
Lesko, who has historically been an avid Trump advocate, disagreed with how the president handled the situation.
“He needs to tone down the rhetoric and just put out calls, go on TV, say stop the protests, which he did do, but then he also said some other things that that I just didn’t think he needed to say,” Lesko said.
Lesko denounced the activity that happened and noted that the people involved should be prosecuted for their actions.
Congress was expected to resume certifying the election after the Capitol building was deemed secure.