U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said it’s difficult to know how much President Donald Trump is to blame for the mob that violently stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.
“Obviously he’s been hinting for some time to come to Washington on the sixth, and encouraging a lot of the folks to show up and to march up to the Capitol,” Thune said. “How much of that contributed and how much of it was just organic anger, it’s hard to say, but it's fair to say again that, you know, when you sow the wind, you're going to reap the whirlwind.”
Thune, whose position as majority whip makes him the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, spoke to reporters Wednesday night by phone. Both chambers of Congress were preparing to reconvene and certify President-Elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory. That work was interrupted earlier Wednesday by the riot, during which a woman was shot and killed, according to Capitol Police.
Thune said false claims animated the riot.
“I think people – including the president and others around him, and other voices and in media circles and social media platforms – have been putting out false facts, and then getting people to believe those things now for weeks, and it's just time for it to stop,” Thune said.
He also pledged to resume the work of certifying the election results.
"I just feel really sad about where we are today,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s not going to stop us. We are going back into session. We're going to deal with this and we're going to have a transition of power in this country. And I hope that the types of people who stormed the capital today get a clear message that they're not going to stop our democracy from moving forward.”
Thune said the election was not stolen. He said there is not enough evidence of fraud to overturn the election results.
-Contact reporter Seth Tupper by email.