NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee lawmakers were forced to take shelter when protesters breached the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, prompting it to be placed on lockdown. The unrest has been condemned on both sides of the aisle.
Chief Investigative Reporter Phil Williams spoke with U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper via Zoom who said every member has been instructed to shelter in place.
"My staff and I are safe... but this is the scariest time I’ve ever experience on Capitol Hill. To see our nation’s Capitol stormed, to see everyone fearing for their safety… This should never be happening in America. This is what Fascism looks like. It’s so wrong. Peaceful protests [are] a hallowed tradition in our country… but this is unlike any other," Cooper said.
Rep. Cooper later took to social media, saying impeachment was needed.
I supported impeachment before and agree we need it now more than ever.— Jim Cooper (@repjimcooper) January 7, 2021
U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn also tweeted that she was sheltering-in-place, saying in part: “… these protests are prohibiting us from doing our constitutional duty. I condemn them in the strongest possible terms. We are a nation of laws.”
These actions at the US Capitol by protestors are truly despicable and unacceptable. While I am safe and sheltering in place, these protests are prohibiting us from doing our constitutional duty. I condemn them in the strongest possible terms. We are a nation of laws.— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) January 6, 2021
To the protestors that have breached the Capitol building: you are disrupting the democratic process. You should be ashamed of yourself. This is violence. This is a crime. It must stop.— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) January 6, 2021
Senator-elect Bill Hagerty has also condemned the unrest, saying: "I have always believed in peaceful protesting. What is happening at the U.S. Capitol right now is not peaceful, this is violence. I condemn it in the strongest terms. We are a nation of laws and this must stop."
I have always believed in peaceful protesting. What is happening at the U.S. Capitol right now is not peaceful, this is violence. I condemn it in the strongest terms. We are a nation of laws and this must stop.— Bill Hagerty (@BillHagertyTN) January 6, 2021
Last week, both Blackburn and Hagerty announced they would join a coalition of Republican Senators to oppose the Electoral College's presidential election results.
Before chaos ensued at the Capitol today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the most powerful Republicans on Capitol Hill, denounced the last-ditch effort to overturn the results. During a speech from the Senate floor, McConnell said that if Trump’s allies were successful in overturning the results of the election, “it would damage our republic forever.”
"If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” McConnell said. “We'd never see our country accept an election again."
U.S. Rep. Mark Green spoke with NewsChannel 5 by phone and said he wasn't in the House Chamber at the time the building was breached and that he and his staff are safe in an undisclosed location.
"I spent 24 years in the Army so I mean it's like just another day in the office in a way but I mean, I never thought I'd be doing this at the U.S. Capitol," Green said.
“Violence is unacceptable number one, number two, I actually am objecting [to the electoral votes] and most Tennessee legislators are objecting to this process…so I think I speak with some authority here. We can’t go forward with this debate. This is supposed to be a process that's laid out by our constitution and we vote on this stuff. We can’t do that if the Capitol is occupied," Green added condemning the riot.
We are a country of law and order—this violence is UNACCEPTABLE. Pray for our nation’s Capitol Police and law enforcement officers.— Rep. Mark Green (@RepMarkGreen) January 6, 2021
Congressman Steve Cohen was in the House Chamber when rioters stormed the Capitol. He issued the following statement putting the responsibility of the incident on the President.
“I blame Donald Trump for this entire episode. He has continually pushed the false idea that the election he lost by seven million votes was ‘stolen’ from him. As recently as last Saturday, he urged the Georgia Secretary of State to ‘find’ the votes he needed to win that state. Trump’s sixty lawsuits, claiming without evidence that irregularities and fraud explained his loss, have been denied, including by Republican and Trump-appointed judges, and his arguments for a victory have gone from bizarre to delusional. After today’s invasion of the Capitol, he must be stopped. We are not safe as a country until this man is out of office.”
Via Twitter, Gov. Bill Lee called the events "inexcusable and an affront to our founding principles and freedoms."
The violence happening in our nation’s capitol is inexcusable and an affront to our founding principles and freedoms. I stand with our Tennessee delegation that order must be restored immediately and thank law enforcement for their professionalism.— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) January 6, 2021
Former Sen. Bob Corker talked with NewsChannel 5 saying the riot was a direct result of the President's rhetoric and instruction.
“I’m horrified to see people scaling walls at the capitol…I think President Trump was able to demonstrate his true character today as he has for the over the last few weeks. The actions that occurred today at the capitol are a culmination of the actions that he has taken of his character”
Other Tennessee lawmakers have also released statements:
There has been an unlawful breach of the U.S. Capitol. This protest and any protest cannot be allowed to dissolve to violence that puts American lives in danger. All sides deserve to be heard peacefully without law enforcement and others being put at risk. (1/2)— John Rose (@RepJohnRose) January 6, 2021