Sen. Jon Tester voiced objection to an effort by 12 senators, including Montana Sen. Steve Daines, to block the counting of electoral votes on Wednesday – a move that helped fuel a riot at the nation’s capitol.
The U.S. Capitol went into lockdown shortly after Vice President Mike Pence convened the hearing, where Daines joined Sen. Ted Cruz and several other senators in challenging the electoral results, starting in Arizona.
Daines would later withdraw his opposition to the results.
But after that initial challenge was voiced on the House floor in a joint session, Congress recessed into separate chambers. It was then that national media began to report a breaching of the Capitol and described the resulting riot as sedition and an attempted coups led by the president and his allies.
“I join my Republican and Democratic colleagues in condemning this despicable and dangerous attack on our democracy,” Tester said of the small Republican faction, which also include Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Montana.
A majority of Republican and Democratic senators, including Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have denounced the move by Daines and the other senators in objecting to the Electoral College results.
Daines tweeted more than an hour after the riots escalated saying, “I condemn any kind of violence and intimidation. This is unacceptable.” He later issued a statement.
“Today is a sad day for our country. The destruction and violence we saw at our Capitol today is an assault on our democracy, our Constitution and the rule of law, and must not be tolerated. As Americans, we believe in the right to peaceful protest. We must rise above the violence. We must stand together. We will not let today’s violence deter Congress from certifying the election. We must restore confidence in our electoral process. We must, and we will, have a peaceful and orderly transition of power.”
The 12 senators and GOP partners in the House said their objections are based on claims of election irregularities, even though no such irregularities have been found.
That was confirmed by nonpartisan election officials, Trump’s former Attorney General Bill Barr, and the United States Supreme Court, among others.
“The election is over—and the time for baseless objections that do nothing but undermine our Constitution is over too. Now is the time for both sides to come together to solve the pressing problems facing our nation, not rip it apart.”
President Donald Trump began Wednesday to peddle baseless claims of election fraud before a crowd of raucous supporters in Washington, hours before the joint session of Congress was set to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Several hours later, one person had been shot at the Capitol after Trump supporters and political terrorists stormed the building during a violent clash with police, forcing a lockdown of the ceremony to confirm Biden’s win in the November election.
“The egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. “I could never have imagined seeing these things in the greatest democracy in the world. Has ambition so eclipsed principle?”
Events in Washington drew a response from political leaders in Montana, including Senate Minority Leader Jill Cohenour.
“This is a dark day for our country. I am deeply disturbed by the violence that has taken place in our nation’s Capital and my heart aches for our country and everyone impacted,” Cohenour said. “Our country deserves leaders that will do more than condemn the violence attempting to prevent the peaceful transfer of power and immediately put an end to the baseless claims and dangerous rhetoric that got us here today.”