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Ohio's Republican lawmakers largely silent on President's role in U.S. Capitol assault

Congress Electoral College
Posted at 4:26 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 19:06:37-05

CLEVELAND — Wednesday will mark one week since the U.S. Capitol was overrun by rioters seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election. In the hours after the chaos, almost all legislators denounced the violence and Democrats denounced President Trump's role in it.

But six days later, most Republicans remain silent on that point. As News 5’s John Kosich can report, it’s not for a lack of trying.

Since last Wednesday, our news desk, our investigative team and Kosich himself have been reaching out to the area's Republican lawmakers for interviews or statements on the president's actions last week — so far, essentially radio silence.

Through calls and emails, News 5 has reached to ask Ohio's Republican lawmakers about the overtaking of the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, and any role the president played in it. While there were statements sent denouncing the violence, so far nothing related to any role the president played, and no interviews have been granted.

Nothing initially from Congressman Bob Gibbs, who represents Ohio's 7th Congressional south and west of Cleveland. Gibbs was one of 121 Republicans, and one of five from Ohio, who voted to object to the Electoral College vote after order was restored Wednesday night. His only tweets, even since then, were going after Twitter after it suspended Trump's account for the company’s failure to take similar action in the past against China and Iran.

Gibbs' office issuing a statement to News 5 Tuesday evening that he will not be voting to either impeach or push for the 25th Amendment.

“This past week has been intense and traumatic for millions of Americans. The violence at the Capitol, resulting in the death of two Capitol Police officers, was shameful and un-American. Those who perpetrated it must be arrested and prosecuted. It is distressing and unfortunate that we are seeing efforts to shift blame away from those who committed these appalling acts," Gibbs wrote.

"Congress pressing the Vice President to invoke the 25th Amendment, which was enacted for a very specific set of circumstances, or a hasty impeachment without even an attempt at an investigation are not appropriate paths forward. This is especially so since President Trump committed to a peaceful transition and by the time we vote, it will be less than a week from President-elect Biden taking office."

“There are many people Congress should be questioning about the attack on the Capitol and we should demand to know why we were so unprepared. These questions warrant answers before Congress follows the route we are currently on. The violence of January 6th broke more than just windows and doors. It broke the important social norm of resolving our political differences peacefully. We should not break more norms by further trivializing serious actions like invoking the 25th Amendment or rushing impeachment. We should focus on repairing those norms and moving forward as one nation while Congress investigates the organizational failures that ultimately led to inexcusable violence."

“Every member of Congress will be asked to vote their conscience this week. My conscience leads me to conclude that an impeachment conducted at this pace and in this manner sets a precedent from which we cannot reverse and takes the guardrails off an important Constitutional duty. Therefore, I will not be voting in support of either the resolution urging the invocation of the 25th Amendment or the impeachment of the president."

Congressman Jim Jordan, whose district includes some of Cleveland's western suburbs, today denounced the attacks on the president brought by those calling on Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would rule the president unfit for office.

"We're here again to consider a Democrat resolution to attack the President just eight days before he has said he will leave office,” Jordan said during a House Rules Committee meeting to discuss the resolution calling on Pence to invoke the 25th.

The committee’s chair, Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern, took issue with that, saying "They came here to destroy things, to desecrate things and they did so because the president of the United States told him to go do it."

While Ohio’s Democratic U.S. Senator, Sherrod Brown, has been vocal in calling for accountability, including the impeachment or 25th Amendment removal of Trump, Republican Rob Portman did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. Portman did announce that he’s joined a bipartisan call for an investigation into what happened at the Capitol, but has not publicly stated anything about the president’s role in it.

Just as News 5 began to air at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Portman issued a new statement confirming he believes Trump bears "some" responsibility for the U.S. Capitol assault. His statement reads:

“As I said on January 6, the attack on the US Capitol was an attack on democracy itself. Anyone who took part in illegal activities should be held accountable and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. In my role leading the bipartisan Senate oversight investigation with Senators Peters, Blunt, and Klobuchar into the January 6 tragedy, I have received law enforcement briefings, including today from FBI officials and the US Attorney’s Office in Washington, DC. Law enforcement has assured me that they are moving forward with prosecutions of those who engaged in the violence and other unlawful activities on January 6.

“Both in his words before the attack on the Capitol and in his actions afterward, President Trump bears some responsibility for what happened on January 6. We are now hearing from the FBI and others about the threat of additional violence in Washington, DC and at state capitols around the country between now and President-Elect Biden’s inauguration on January 20. These reports are deeply concerning. Violence is never the answer, and we must take all threats seriously. The orderly and peaceful transfer of power on January 20 is a hallmark of our democracy.

“Today, I call on President Trump to address the nation and explicitly urge his supporters to remain peaceful and refrain from violence. If our nation experiences additional violence and destruction at the hands of his supporters in Washington DC and state capitols around the country, and he does not directly and unambiguously speak out now when threats are known, he will bear responsibility.

“Now is the time to work together to heal our country. My hope is that the tragic attack on the Capitol on January 6 can serve to unite us rather than divide us further. We need to come together to face enormous challenges, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine distribution, the worsening drug addiction epidemic, and the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. I look forward to working with the Biden administration and my colleagues to address these and many other priorities on behalf of Ohio and our nation.”

As a representative democracy, your representatives are accountable to you, so we asked on Facebook and Twitter what questions you would have for them?

Jacquilyn wants to know why they are not taking this more seriously; this is not a partisan issue.

Tim and Debby say to hold the president accountable to set a precedent for future presidents.

But Mike says he's still looking for proof of insurrection from the president, comparing this to another “Russiagate.”

We’ll pass these questions and comments on to Ohio’s lawmakers — once we hear back from some of them.