Idaho congressional delegates evacuated from U.S. Capitol as unlawful chaos unfolds
Hayat Norimine, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and clashed with police Wednesday afternoon as members of Congress gathered to certify Electoral College votes. Lawmakers were evacuated as violence escalated. One woman was reportedly shot.
Spokespeople of Sens. Mike Crapo and and Jim Risch and Rep. Russ Fulcher confirmed they were safe as violence escalated, mobs pushed through barricades around the Capitol and multiple injuries were reported. Melanie Lawhorn, spokesperson for Crapo, said he’s been moved to an undisclosed location and all staffers are working remotely.
“At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault,” President-elect Joe Biden said in his address to the nation. President Donald Trump also called on his supporters to respect law enforcement on Twitter shortly after encouraging them to fight the certification.
Eastern Idaho’s Rep. Mike Simpson was the first of Idaho’s congressional delegates to publicly respond to Wednesday’s clashes. Simpson on Twitter urged protesters to stop the violence.
“We have a constitutional right to peaceful protests, but the clashes with police and destruction of property must stop now,” Simpson said. “We can disagree in a better way.”
A crowd also gathered on the steps outside the Idaho Capitol Building on Wednesday when the certification was scheduled. Some armed groups were present but remained peaceful, while police observed the gathering.
IDAHO REP. RUSS FULCHER PLANNED TO OBJECT TO ELECTORAL COLLEGE COUNT
Before the clashes began Wednesday, western Idaho’s Rep. Russ Fulcher announced on Twitter he planned to object to the Electoral College count, joining a GOP last-ditch effort to block Joe Biden’s presidential election win.
Fulcher in a video posted on Twitter said state and election officials skirted the U.S. Constitution, which gives only legislatures the ability to change election rules. He also accused states of sending ballots to broad names of lists and addresses “with little regard for voter eligibility.”
Spurred by President Donald Trump’s continued false claims of widespread voter fraud, a growing number of Republicans joined plans to object to the certification of the Electoral College count in certain battleground states. Idaho’s three other congressional delegates — Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson — did not publicly say whether they planned to join those efforts. Before crowds stormed the Capitol, Republicans objected to Arizona’s slate of electors, which forces a vote in the House and Senate.
Trump has continued to make unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in battleground states where he lost. Those allegations have been dismissed or rejected by dozens of lawsuits. All 50 states have already certified their election results in December. There has been no evidence of widespread fraud that would change the outcome of the election.
Both chambers would need to reject the state’s electoral votes for them to get tossed out. Contrary to Trump’s claim, Vice President Mike Pence does not have the ability to unilaterally throw out electoral votes.