Republican Senator Roy Blunt says actions of Capitol rioters were "unpardonable"

Exclusive: Senators discuss inauguration security
Exclusive: Senators discuss inauguration secu... 03:30

Last Updated Jan 18, 2021 7:50 PM EST

The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden will come exactly two weeks after an angry pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. But will it be safe on Wednesday?

"CBS Evening News" anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell spoke exclusively with the senators in charge of the inauguration, Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri and Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. The senators discussed the significance of the inauguration after the violent assault, and how the country should regard those who stormed the Capitol.

O'Donnell: Senators, thank you so much. Senator Blunt, let me ask you: Is there any doubt in your mind that there will be a peaceful transfer of power?

Blunt: No. No doubt at all. And I think we're gonna project to the world exactly the message we want to at this very spot where so many bad things happened two weeks ago. I think the world's gonna see the Constitution and the democracy of our country work.

How important is that, to show that to the world?

Klobuchar: It couldn't be more important. And while the events of January 6th and the insurrection — I think for a lot of people, they stepped back and reflected and thought, "This democracy means something to us."

There was a security scare this morning that led to the Capitol being locked down. What if that happens Wednesday?

Klobuchar: Take one thing at a time. There's always plans and ways you can change things. But that turned out to be not a real occurrence of any security risk.

As a Republican, are you disappointed that President Trump won't be here? 

Blunt: I think the president should have been here, and I'm disappointed.

What kind of message do you think it sends? 

Klobuchar: That's his decision. But this is still going to be this magical moment where our new president takes the reins.

Did you ever consider, for security reasons, moving this inside? 

Blunt: I don't think we seriously did. This is not only a moment of importance, but the fact that we do it and where we do it matters. And it's really important to maintain that sense of the continuity of both our Constitution and our democracy. 

And yet, the leader of your party and his most fervent supporters tried to derail that. 

Blunt: What happened here two weeks ago was one of the great stains on the history of the country, in my view. It was outrageous. It was totally unforgivable.

There were hundreds, if not thousands of rioters on this very stage just last week pushing through that door. How much damage was done?

Blunt: A lot of damage was done to our reputation, not much done to the building. There were probably 1,000 people in the building. Every one of those people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

What if President Trump pardons some of the people involved?

Blunt: I think that'd be disastrous. 

Klobuchar: Yes. 

Blunt: I think what they did is unpardonable. 

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A view from the lectern at the U.S. Capitol during preparations for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. CBS News

This is what President Joe Biden will see when he address the nation.

Klobuchar: Exactly. Well there will be some people out there, so yes. That's what he sees.

And then some nearly 200,000 American flags instead of a crowd.

Blunt: Well normally we have 200,000 people. So instead of 200,000 people, I guess we'll have almost 200,000 flags. 

Was there any damage done to [the area where Mr. Biden will be sworn in]?

Blunt: There was a little damage. Some repainting had to be done.

I understand they replaced all the windows. These are the windows that we saw them punching flagpoles and helmets through and then crawling through these very windows.

Blunt: They crawled in here, right.

But that has all been replaced.

Klobuchar: Just like our democracy is starting fresh on the 20th.