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Minnesota's DFL Members Of Congress Reflect On Jan. 6 Attack; Republicans Remain Silent

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Last year when rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol building and members of Congress were whisked away to a safe location, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — a key lawmaker during election certification — said she shared a goal with Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri: That against all odds, they would complete their work.

At 3:30 a.m. the next morning, Jan. 7, they delivered the remaining ballots to the House.

"We took that walk through the broken glass, through the statues that were spray painted to the House and finished our job," she said. "And it gave me this faith in our democracy that no matter what, it will triumph."

Democrats in Minnesota's congressional delegation on Thursday reflected on the U.S. Capitol attack one year after a mob breached their workplace and threatened a symbol of American democracy.

But Republicans remained silent.

In interviews with WCCO, Sens. Klobuchar and Tina Smith and U.S. Reps. Dean Phillips, Betty McCollum, and Angie Craig recounted the traumatic events of that day, still processing what happened and demanding accountability for the assault. U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar's office said the congresswoman did not have time this week for an interview.

The Democrats expressed dismay that some Republicans ignore the violence of that day and support lies about a stolen election rife with fraud. They shared feelings that democracy is still fragile.

Phillips shouted "this is because of you!" at one GOP lawmaker as the attack unfolded. He said he still stands by that statement.

"I did scream it, because I believe it to be true," Phillips said in an interview. "I saw this like so many other Americans as a slow-motion train wreck. We saw the rhetoric; We saw the lie. We saw the inspiration, among some of my colleagues in the House of Representatives, to inspire people to come to Washington and ultimately break into the United States Capitol. So yes, I do hold them accountable."

All four Republicans -- U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach, Pete Stauber, and Jim Hagedorn -- did not respond to multiple requests for comment. They condemned the attack last year, but stayed silent Thursday. Emmer put a press release online, but did not send it by email.

"One year ago, we saw an unacceptable display of violence that runs counter to everything we stand for as a country. Those responsible for the violence must continue to be held accountable," part of his comments said.

In a separate statement, the Minnesota GOP did not mention the attack directly, but accused state Democrats of "fantastical hyperventilation."

"They are using false and disingenuous language to accuse Republicans of encouraging violence," the statement from chairman David Hann read in part.

A CBS News Poll found that Republicans disapproval of what happened last year has softened. That same survey showed four in 10 Republicans say those who went into the Capitol were actually left-leaning groups pretending to be Trump supporters.

Reps. Jim Hagedorn and Michelle Fischbach voted with more than 140 other Republicans from other states to object the election results Jan. 6; Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber did not.

"I just think it's important that we don't recreate the story," said Smith. "We try to put it into the context of the actions we need to take to protect our democracy, and not sort of look away and say, 'Oh, that was it wasn't really that bad. It wasn't really that big of a deal.' I think it was a big deal."

McCollum described how security has increased more than she has seen in her two decades in Congress, expressing fears for her staff and constituents going forward. And the attack undermined a sense of safety among her colleagues, she said.

"The fact that we're dealing with the COVID situation here, where people aren't gathering as freely or as often, has not really brought that to light the type of security issues that we will have to take now when we start having more generalized open meetings," she said. "This is going to make what I had to go through with security during the Affordable Care Act look like, you know, a school outing."

McCollum and Craig also said they were concerned that the violence and vitriol of the attack is still steeped into American politics today.

"What we saw that day didn't stop in Washington," Craig said. "The same kind of vitriol, the same kind of misinformation and the same kind of lies that allowed Jan. 6 to happen continue."

McCollum added: "I believe our democracy is still under attack. And Jan. 6 is not over."


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