Portman Says Trump ‘Bears Some Responsibility’ for Capitol Siege

CINCINNATI, Ohio – U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is calling on President Donald Trump to address the nation and urge his supporters to “refrain from violence” ahead of next week’s inauguration of Joe Biden as president.

The president “bears some responsibility” for the assault on the nation’s Capitol a week ago, Portman R-Ohio, said in a statement. It’s the harshest criticism Portman has voiced to date and was released to the press about the same time as The New York Times reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is “pleased” with the House of Representatives moving forward on impeaching the president.

Said Portman: “Today, I call on President Trump to address the nation and explicitly urge his supporters to remain peaceful and refrain from violence. If our nation experiences additional violence and destruction at the hands of his supporters in Washington, D.C. and state capitols around the country, and he does not directly and unambiguously speak out now when threats are known, he will bear responsibility.”

Since losing the 2020 presidential election Nov. 3, Trump has made false claims that the election was stolen from him and asserted without evidence that widespread fraud took place. 

He repeated those assertions at a Jan. 6 rally and directed his supporters to march to the Capitol, where both houses of Congress were meeting to certify the election results. Several hundred of them stormed the building, forcing the legislators into hiding and halting the certification for several hours.   

Trump told reporters today that his remarks at last week’s rally – which have drawn widespread and bipartisan condemnation — were “totally appropriate” and that the prospect of an expected second impeachment was “causing tremendous anger” in the country.    

“Both in his words before the attack on the Capitol and in his actions afterward, President Trump bears some responsibility for what happened,” Portman said. “We are now hearing from the FBI and others about the threat of additional violence in Washington, D.C. and at state capitals around the country between now and President-Elect Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.  These reports are deeply concerning.”

Portman called the attack on the Capitol “an attack on democracy itself” and said anyone who took part in illegal activities there should be prosecuted. 

In his role leading the bipartisan Senate oversight investigation, he said he has received law enforcement briefings, including today from FBI officials and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and received assurances from law enforcement that they “are moving forward with prosecutions of those who engaged in the violence and other unlawful activities” last week. 

Gov. Mike DeWine signed an order Tuesday authorizing 580 members of the Ohio National Guard into active state training. The activation allows them to assist during the inauguration as well as to provide assistance in Ohio, DeWine said in a statement on Twitter. 

“People have a right to protest. They do not have the right to be destructive or hurt other people,” DeWine continued. “We welcome peaceful protestors, but we saw what happened at the Capitol, so we are concerned.” 

In a memo that was widely reported Tuesday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff condemned the Jan. 6 riot as “a direct assault” on Congress, the Capitol building and the constitutional process and asserted that Biden would be sworn in Jan. 20 and become the nation’s 46th commander-in-chief. Any act to disrupt that process is “not only against our traditions, values and oath” but also illegal. 

“As we have done throughout our history, the U.S. military will obey lawful orders from civilian leadership, support civil authorities to protect lives and property, ensure public safety in accordance with the law, and remain fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” the Joint Chiefs wrote.  

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.