U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine criticized President Donald Trump’s response after a group of his supporters stormed into the Capitol on Wednesday to disrupt the ratification of the 2020 presidential election, saying he should issue a “forceful message” denouncing the violence.
The Republican senator and her colleagues were on the Senate floor on Wednesday afternoon listening to debate in the process that will lead to the affirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s November victory when a mob of Trump backers broke into the building. Members of Congress were evacuated before some of the crowd made it into the chambers and occupied offices.
The site was deemed a riot by Washington, D.C., police who played a major role in securing the building after the crowd overwhelmed Capitol Police to get inside the building during the proceedings. A woman was shot in the Capitol and later died while others were injured.
Trump, who repeated false complaints about the results of the 2020 election in a speech to protesters earlier in the day, was slow to urge supporters to leave the building. He did in a video message in which he also said the election was “stolen” and called mob members “special.”
All members of Maine’s congressional delegation and their staffs were safe. Collins denounced the insurrection as “a dangerous, shameful, and outrageous attack on our democracy.” She told Maine Public that the president “does bear responsibility for working up the crowd and inciting this mob.”
“He should give a forceful message denouncing the violence and telling protesters to go home,” she told News Center Maine.
The Electoral College proceedings were set to continue late into the night. It is unclear whether Republicans who indicated plans to object to certain states’ results would continue with their bids. Collins is among a majority of Senate Republicans who have rejected that effort and she was one of the first among her caucus to publicly congratulate Biden on his win in November.
Collins did not endorse Trump in the 2016 election but refused to say whether she backed him in her successful bid for a historic fifth term in 2020, told News Center Maine that Congress should certify Biden’s win even if the process runs late into the night, saying members “cannot give in to mob violence.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the day of the incident. It was Wednesday.