Nevada Newsmakers

Blame Trump, and others, for riot at U.S. Capitol building, Rep. Amodei says

News - January 12, 2021

President Trump shoulders a lot of blame for the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week when masses of his supporters illegally stormed the building, Nevada's 2nd U.S. House District Rep. Mark Amodei said during a taping of Nevada Newsmakers.

"Do I think he (Trump) has a responsibility for what has occurred? Yes," Amodei, R-Carson City, told host Sam Shad. "When you look at everything through a political lens, of course. This is all on you. Well, guess what? He's got responsibility there."

Five people died from the riot. One Capitol police officer was killed by rioters after he was beaten on the Capitol steps. An Air Force veteran was shot by a Capitol police lieutenant when she and other rioters tried to break down the doors to the U.S. House chamber where members of Congress lay hidden.

"This is shameful," said Amodei, the only Republican in Nevada's congressional delegation. "Historical. Awful."

Trump's speech to the assembled crowd on the Capitol grounds lit the fuse for the riot, Amodei said. Trump had earlier asked his followers via social media to travel to Washington for the Wednesday rally because that was the day Congress was to scheduled to affirm the Electoral College votes and presidential election for Democrat Joe Biden.

Amodei, in talking about Trump's speech, said the President "may have been pushing the envelope as hard as he could.

"And now in hindsight ... it was your rally and they went to the Capitol after that and this happened, so, your words ... It is fair to say, 'You had a piece of this. I'm sorry, but you had a piece of this.' Now did he tell them to go up there and basically trash the building and result in the deaths of multiple people? Obviously not."

Amodei also sarcastically praised Trump for insulting Rep. Liz Cheney, (R-Wyo.) during his speech before the crowd. Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has been critical of Trump for insisting results of the 2020 presidential election be overturned.

"Do I think it was great that you were calling out people by name? You know, Liz Cheney?" Amodei said. "I may not agree (with her) but what did you think Liz Cheney was going to do? Do you think she was going to go in her office, close the door and cry? I mean she is the daughter of the vice president in Bush 43. So I get it but quite frankly, the fact is that there was a lot of push back on the whole, 'Did I win or lose the election?'"

Yet Trump should not shoulder all the blame, Amodei said.

"It is just an abject failure,"Amodei said of the riot. "You can blame Donald Trump and he's got some blame. You can blame the Capitol police in a professional thing, at least the leadership, and they've got some blame."

Amodei, however, saved his most vocal criticism for the leaders of Congress.

"The thing I've been looking at on both sides of the aisle, is, so what did leadership do when this was in real time?" Amodei asked.

"Quite frankly, it is my opinion that somebody (in leadership) should have gone out on the steps and, yeah, get those guys and girls (police officers) around me. And somebody needs to take charge of this and tell these people to get the hell out of there. But now (instead) we're all back in our little Twitter bunkers. That's not leadership."

Amodei named those who should have taken charge.

"I mean we've got Mitch McConnell (GOP senate leader), we've got Chuck Schumer (Democratic senate leader), we've got Kevin McCarthy (House GOP leader) and Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House) and we've got Steve Scalise (GOP whip)," Amodei said.

"I'm just saying, this was not the time to be in the bunker, on the phone. People are starving for real leadership," Amodei said.

"I mean the way you deal with this is you get overwhelming force and you sweep them out of the way," Amodei said.

When Shad asked about the danger of congressional leadership being shot by protestors while on the Capitol steps, Amodei said reports at that time indicated protestors were not heavily armed.

"Now this may change, maybe I've missed something,"Amodei said. "But this was a riotous mob. I didn't hear anything about guns. Of course they are going to caution them about that. But ...

"Let me put it this way: You can say, well, maybe they (leadership) would have gotten beat up or overwhelmed but you know what? OK. But then you tell me what the leadership move was? Because what was done, that was not leadership," Amodei said.

Amodei defended the Capitol police officer who shot the rioter/Air Force veteran.

The handful of police guarding the entry to the House chamber was outnumbered and concerned that the mob -- if it broke through the doors -- would have harmed members of Congress or taken hostages. Two rioters were photographed in the Senate chambers, carrying plastic zip ties, which could have been used as handcuffs in a possible hostage situation. Both were later arrested.

Video shows the shot was fired when rioters were getting close to breaking through.

"I don't know if I can blame the guy when you add that if they (rioters) would have come through that door, they would have not only have had the House chamber but they would have had House members still in there,"Amodei said.

"What does that mean, I don't know what that means but it opens a whole new set of possibilities," he said. "Would there have been battery (beatings) going on? Hostages? "

Chief Steve Sund resigned as the Capitol police chief a day after the riot. Amodei said he was thinking of Sund during the riot.

"You asked what was going through my mind (during the riot), it's this is a very, very bad day, not only for the American people and the Capitol, but it is an awful day for the Capitol police," he said.

"I know what the chief of the Capitol police is doing right now," Amodei continued. "He's got boxes in his office and he's taking stuff off the wall and putting it in there because that (defending the Capitol) is the central reason for the Capitol police to exist.

"That's like a chess game," Amodei said. "That (police force) is your knight and somebody just came in and punched the king in the nose."

The Amodei interview was taped Monday.

He said he would not support any impeachment inquiry of Trump in the U.S. House.

He also said visiting the U.S. Capitol "will never be the same" because this riot will mark the beginning of an era of increased security for both visitors and elected officials.

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