After calling for Americans to “have one big family talk in the Capitol & beyond” about election security, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) issued a follow-up statement Wednesday afternoon saying there “must be ZERO tolerance for violence” after a mob stormed the Capitol while Congress formally counted electoral votes to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Mr. Zeldin, who’s been an ardent supporter of President Trump and his attempt to remain in power after losing November’s election, Tweeted out the statement during the unprecedented moment in modern American history unfolding in Washington D.C.
“This should never be the scene at the US Capitol,” said Mr. Zeldin, who was scheduled to speak on the House floor Wednesday. “This is not the America we all love. We can debate and we can disagree, even on a January 6th following a Presidential election. We can all passionately love our country, but in our republic we elect people to represent us to voice our objections in the House and Senate on this day.”
The chaos erupted shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday as the mob pushed through barricades to breach the Capitol. Members of the Senate and House were locked inside their respective chambers for a time when the violence began to escalate, the New York Times reported.
With the eyes of the nation already set on the proceedings unfolding Wednesday — a typically formal process to count each state’s electoral votes that was intensified by President Trump’s push for Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification — the mob’s attack on the Capitol transpired live on TV.
Mr. Zeldin made “law and order” a central focus of his reelection campaign and continually touted the backing of law enforcement unions when he defeated Democratic challenger Nancy Goroff.
Images from the Associated Press showed Trump supporters clashing with law enforcement around the Capitol and in one stunning image, U.S. Capitol police had guns drawn near a barricaded door as protesters tried to break into the House Chamber.
“There must be ZERO tolerance for violence in any form!” Mr. Zeldin said. “It is very important now for everyone to please cooperate with Capitol Police who need to gain control of this situation immediately.”
President Trump spoke earlier Wednesday to supporters on the National Mall and said: “We will never concede,” according to media reports.
He reiterated his false claims the election was “stolen from us” in a 62-second video posted on Twitter shortly after 4 p.m.
“You have to go home now,” he added in an attempt to deescalate the violence after saying he had won the election in a “landslide.”
The video was quickly flagged by Twitter for a disputed claim of election fraud and users could not reply or retweet it.
Before the violence erupted, Mr. Zeldin echoed the president’s view on the election.
He said on Twitter Wednesday, “American deserve nothing less than full faith & confidence in our elections & a guarantee that their vote — their voice— counts & their concerns are heard. It’s about our Constitution, our republic, our future & our fellow Americans.”
Mr. Biden received 51.3% of the votes in November’s election, earning 306 electoral votes to defeat the incumbent, Mr. Trump. No evidence of widespread fraud has emerged in the weeks that have followed as every attempt to prove so through lawsuits filed by the president failed. On Tuesday, two Democrats won runoff races for the U.S. Senate, giving control of the Senate to the Democrats.
The presidential inauguration is scheduled for Jan. 20.
Mr. Zeldin on Saturday tweeted that “millions of unauthorized mail-in ballots” were sent out in battleground states for presidential election.
“Some insist everything President Trump & his supporters claim about the 2020 election is “evidence free”. That lie may be easy to rattle off, but it’s still a massive, destructive lie that will haunt them on Jan 6th & far into the future.”