Many Pennsylvania elected officials have spoken out against the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. But the strength of their denunciations varied -- and some public figures even appear to have joined the mob in Washington, D.C.
Pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol to protest the certification of the Electoral College results, which will formally declare Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, one of President Trump’s earliest and most loyal supporters, tweeted “this must stop now." Kelly, who represents the 16th District in northwestern Pennsylvania, said he recognized that “there is a lot of anger over this election and what’s happening in America” but asked that disputes be resolved peacefully.
Kelly and U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler are two of the Republican Congressmen who planned to object to the certification of President-elect Biden’s electoral victory Wednesday by asking that Pennsylvania’s electoral votes be set aside and not counted. That process was disrupted early Wednesday afternoon, when Congress was evacuated after pro-Trump demonstrators smashed windows and stormed inside. But Kelly later told reporters that efforts to overturn the election results were not responsible for the insurrection.
For his part, Reschenthaler said “the violence happening at the Capitol is unacceptable,” in a tweet Wednesday. “Today’s reckless events do not advance conservative values. Thank you to the Capitol Police and all law enforcement for you bravery. Please pray for these heroes.”
Hours before, and as Trump repeated debunked claims about the election to supporters near the Capitol, Reschenthaler called President Trump “the BEST president since Lincoln.”
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican who has long been scathing in his criticism of Trump, forcefully condemned Trump’s behavior, and praised Biden's own call for the violence to stop.
“I am sad and angry,” Ridge tweeted. “This mob is abhorrent. The blame lies squarely with the president. His many incitements are responsible. Joe Biden did what presidents do in trying to bring us together. All Americans should support his message of healing. And to the seditionists: Go home!”
Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey called the insurrection “an absolute disgrace. I appreciate the work of the United States Capitol Police under difficult circumstances.”
Both Toomey and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey were at the Capitol complex Wednesday. Statements from both offices note that the Senators are safe.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf called what happened on Wednesday “an attempted coup.”
“We had a free and fair election,” the Democrat said in a statement. “The results were clear. Republicans from Pres. Trump to PA legislative leaders need to stop the disinformation and tell their supporters the truth before there’s further violence.”
Democrat Conor Lamb said the violent actions by Trump’s supporters proved Wednesday that "what the Trump campaign said about police, law & order was all fake. Now we can see it. Thank you to these brave officers for doing the hard work of enforcing the law fairly against people who don’t respect the law. Stay safe.”
Lamb’s former rival, Republican Rick Saccone was also in D.C. on Wednesday, but as a participant in the demonstration. He posted a photo of himself with Pennsylvania Republican state Senator Doug Mastriano, who led a hearing at which Trump supporters repeated claims of election wrongdoing. Mastriano is considered a possible GOP contender in the 2022 gubernatorial race. Saccone also narrated a video in which he pledged to "run out all the evil people in there, and all the [Republicans in Name Only] that have betrayed our president."
The posts were later removed, but not before they were archived online.
“We are storming the capitol,” Saccone wrote online. “Our vanguard has broken thru the barricades. We will save this nation. Are u with me?”
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, meanwhile, used a previously scheduled coronavirus briefing to register his own objections to the insurrection. "I never thought I'd live to see the day when there would be an attempted coup against our government by seditionists [and] anarchists," he said. He faulted "those people in the Republican Party who have supported the actions of this president."
Chris Potter contributed to this report.