Sen. Lindsey Graham says “enough is enough” before declining to object to the certification of Arizona’s electoral votes.
Kirk Brown , Bob Montgomery | Greenville News
After being interrupted by deadly chaos in the U.S. Capitol building, Congress reconvened Wednesday night to continue certifying the Electoral College results from the presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden.
Upon considering Arizona’s electoral votes, South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from Seneca who earlier said he’d keep an open mind about objections to the certification, said, “All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough… I prayed (Biden) would lose. He won. He’s the legitimate president of the United States.
“I cannot convince people, certain groups, by my words, but I will tell you by my actions — that maybe I above all others in this body need to say this — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and vice president of the United States on January the 20th.”
Watch: Sen. Lindsey Graham says, ‘Enough is enough’
Hours earlier, South Carolina’s representatives were among those from across the nation who scrambled to safety when supporters of President Donald Trump swarmed the building. Protesters had been on the Capitol grounds all day before violence broke out. That prompted Vice President Mike Pence to be swept to a secure location and the Senate chamber to be evacuated.
South Carolina’s Sen. Tim Scott of North Charleston posted a photo on Twitter that showed congressmen returning to the chamber before 8 p.m. with an armed escort.
“D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said the chaotic day included four fatalities: a woman who was shot by the U.S. Capitol Police, as well as three others — two men and one woman — who died in ‘separate medical emergencies,” according to USA Today.
Republican U.S. Rep. William Timmons of Greenville said he and his staff barricaded the door to his office Wednesday afternoon.
“Things are not good,” Timmons said in a phone interview while he was holed up. “This is unacceptable.”
Timmons said his office is about 200 yards from the chamber where a joint session of Congress was being held to certify the Electoral College results. The session was abruptly interrupted when rioters who support Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results broke through police lines and entered the Capitol.
According to tweets and emails, the rest of South Carolina’s congressional delegation and their staffs were safe. Besides Graham, Timmons and Scott, the delegation includes Rep. Jim Clyburn, Jeff Duncan, Rep. Nancy Mace, Rep. Ralph Norman, Rep. Tom Rice and Rep. Joe Wilson.
Graham tweeted, “I support peaceful protests but not violence and destruction. People need to leave the Capitol now! This is a national embarrassment.”
Graham followed that with another social media post: “The U.S. Senate must reconvene today and finish our constitutional work. Calling for federal officials to form task force to identify those who breached the Capitol, vandalized our national institutions, and expect prosecutions to the fullest extent of the law.
“Very grateful to front line police but incredibly upset those in charge lost control of the US Capitol. Will not let this go unchallenged.”
Scott also spoke out against the rioters in a tweet: “The violence occurring at the United States Capitol right now is simply unacceptable, and I fully condemn it.”
President-elect Biden tweeted, “Let me be very clear: the scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not represent who we are. What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It borders on sedition, and it must end. Now.”
Mace and Rice said in tweets that they had been evacuated from the Capitol.
“This is wrong. This is not who we are. I’m heartbroken for our nation today,” Mace said in her tweet.
Timmons said, “Capitol Police told us to barricade the doors.”
Timmons tagged Trump in a tweet stressing a need to “maintain law and order.”
Duncan and Timmons have said they support a GOP effort to object to election results in key swing states won by Biden.
At 3:14 p.m. — about an hour after the Capitol was put in lockdown by authorities and amid reports of violence on the Capitol grounds — Trump posted a message on Twitter asking for demonstrators to remain peaceful: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
Just after 4:15 p.m., Trump posted a video message on Twitter where he repeated a false accusation that the election was stolen from him before he urged rioters and protesters to go home.
Twitter quickly disabled the ability to retweet or comment on the president’s tweet. The social media platform added a message: “This claim of election fraud is disputed, and this Tweet can’t be replied to, Retweeted, or liked due to a risk of violence.”
By about 7 p.m., Twitter removed three tweets from the president and locked his account for 12 hours.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster weighed in with a tweet before 4 p.m.: “It is hard to believe what we are seeing at our beloved Capitol. We should be alarmed – but also deeply saddened. Protest is honored, but violence cannot be tolerated. Those who believe in America should leave the building immediately. The rule of law must prevail.”
Norman was at “an undisclosed location” under the guard of Capitol Police Wednesday afternoon, spokesperson Austin Livingston said.
Shortly before 4 p.m., Norman, a Trump supporter, issued a statement on his website about the rioting: “This is utterly unacceptable. This is NOT who we are, and I condemn in the STRONGEST possible terms the actions of rioters who have breached the Capitol Building, attacked U.S .Capitol Police, and in doing so, have jeopardized the safety and lives of everyone on Capitol Hill right now.
“As the U.S. Capitol Police and other supporting law enforcement agencies work to get this situation under control, I cannot say enough about their bravery and heroism. Thank God for these men and women.”
On Tuesday Norman said he planned to oppose Wednesday’s Electoral College certification.
Spartanburg native Nathan Crunkilton, a 22-year-old Byrnes High School graduate who is a graduate student at George Washington University, lives about three miles from the Capitol. He said he heard sirens and several noises that sounded like gunshots.
“I’m scared, but not necessarily for my own safety more so than the actual event of what’s happening,” Crunkilton said. “You know, people storming the Capitol, it’s a scary thing… I feel like there’s been forgetfulness that people actually live here. It’s more than just government buildings.”
Spartanburg County Democratic Party Chairwoman Angela Geter blamed Trump for “pouring gasoline on an already-lit fire” for failing to accept the election result.
“I can’t imagine how we look on the global stage,” she said. “We must be the laughingstock of the world right now.
“The only thing positive today, at least the Democrats got control of the Senate. If ever there were a silver lining to this very dark cloud in our history, it’s that.”
Geter, an African-American, said the rioting brings ugly racial tensions back to the forefront.
“If we had that number of African-Americans and Latinos storm the Capitol, this would easily have been called the bloodiest day in history because they would have been slaughtered,” she said. “It certainly makes you look at your neighbors and friends differently. It kind of makes you wonder how they really see you. I think America has to take a very hard look at itself.”
Former Spartanburg County GOP Chairman Rick Beltram called the rioting “horrible.”
“It does not help the conservative cause for Spartanburg, South Carolina or the U.S.A.,” he said. “I’m very embarrassed from what I’m seeing and hearing.”
Current Spartanburg County GOP Chairman Curtis Smith agreed.
“This is not us,” he said. “We don’t do this. This is not how Republicans act. We are law and order. No matter what happens, you never go violent. These people need to be arrested and prosecuted.”
The South Carolina Republican Party denounced the rioting in a tweet.
“We’re blessed to live in a land with a Constitution that protects our right to peacefully protest our government, but violence from any side always hurts the cause of any protest.”
District 32 South Carolina House Rep. Max Hyde, a Republican and former Spartanburg County Council member, also issued a statement: “This is a terrible, tragic, and unprecedented day for our democracy as our United States Capitol has been besieged and breached. We are a nation that follows the rule of law. This sedition is intolerable. I want my children and theirs to know that in this moment of history I stand in total opposition to these illegal actions. After the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Benjamin Franklin said we have ‘[A] republic, if you can keep it.’ I will do my part to keep it.”
Mark Sanford, the former congressman and South Carolina governor, had harsh words for Trump, specifically and directly.
“It’s easy to get elected once to anything. Just tell people what they want to hear,” Sanford tweeted in part. “The world is filled with con men and charlatans who have done it many times over. Trump’s approach lost the House, White House and now the Senate. Let’s make sure it doesn’t lose us our Republic.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
– Genna Contino contributed to this report.