US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday said lawmakers who may have helped in the January 6 storming of the Capitol in any way will be prosecuted.
Democrats have alleged that rioters were given advance tours of the US Capitol ahead of the attack by some Republicans. How else, they have argued, could the rioters know their way around, reaching office rooms deep inside the building.
“If in fact it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection, if they aided and abetted the crime, there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecutions,” Pelosi said at a news conference.
“In order to serve here with each other, we must trust that people have respect for their oath of office, respect for this institution,” she added.
Mikie Sherrill, a Democratic lawmaker who is also a former US Navy pilot, said she saw “members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on January 5 for reconnaissance for the next day”. She leads a group of Democrats demanding action against them.
James Clyburn, a senior Democrat whose endorsement was crucial to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the primaries, was surprised that the rioters reached his unmarked office. “Well, it seems to me that something was going on – some coordination was going on between sitting members of Congress and some of these visitors to the Capitol,” he said.
Four insurrectionists and one Capitol police officer were killed in an attack on the US Capitol on January 6 by a mob incited by outgoing President Donald Trump to prevent a joint session of Congress from certifying Biden’s election victory.
Trump was impeached on Wednesday for “incitement of insurrection”, making him the first American president to be impeached twice. A trial by the Senate will take place at a date and time not announced yet.
Preparations are underway to secure the US Capitol for Biden’s inauguration on January 20 – with four times more troops deployed in Washington, DC than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined as well as tall fencing.
Trump will not attend Biden’s inauguration, he has said before, breaking a long-running tradition. Biden does not want him there either.
Vice-President Mike Pence is expected to attend the inauguration. He called vice-president elect Kamala Harris on Thursday afternoon to congratulate her.
Neither Pence nor his boss had conceded defeat until then or congratulated the incoming team. Trump still hasn’t. And along with his enablers, he had contested the results with baseless claims of fraud.