CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Virginia’s congressional delegation was in the eye of the storm as insurrectionists swarmed the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Now, they are picking up the pieces – literally in some cases – and promising to hold those responsible accountable.
As the violence unfolded, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine found themselves caught in the middle. They recalled tense moments, as Vice President Mike Pence was whisked away, followed by a 20 minute lockdown, before being evacuated out of the building. That chaotic scene resulted in them being separated from colleagues and staffers, only to find each other safe hours later.
“I talked to two young staffers who had been in an office on the first floor of the Capitol when protesters broke through the windows,” Sen. Kaine (D-Virginia) explained. “They went into a closet, locked themselves in, and were in the closet locked in there for two hours as the protesters raised hell outside.”
Despite the violence of the day, 5th District Representative Bob Good followed through on his earlier promise to object to the election results. In a statement, Good defended the decision.
“This is about more than the 2020 presidential election; it is about all future elections and Congress doing its constitutional duty to ensure election integrity and to not accept electoral submissions from states with sufficient evidence of fraud,” Good stated.
No evidence of fraud on the scale that would overturn the election has been found. Still, the objections of Good and other Virginia congressmen did not sit well with Kaine.
“If you’re a congressman from Virginia, is there anything easier and more chickens*** than objecting to the results of some other state?” Kaine asked. “Oh, well, that’s just so simple, because if you object to the results of some other state, those voters can’t hold you accountable.”
Former 5th District Congressmen Tom Perriello and Denver Riggleman watched the events from miles away. Riggleman, who walked the halls of the Capitol just days ago before the end of his term says talk of the election being stolen only helped to fuel the mob.
“What you had there was a majority of Trump supporters that were whipped into a frenzy by months of just information based on ‘Stop the Steal,’” Riggleman said. “It’s that simple, there is no other explanation.”
Perriello, the last Democrat to represent the 5th District, says in the aftermath he is trying to focus on the politicians that stood up to say enough is enough.
“That’s what courage looks like. That’s what leadership looks like,” Perriello said. “Telling the truth, admitting that you made a mistake, admitting that you’ve been too scared of the person in the White House to actually do what’s right by America, what’s right by the 5th District, or any district when in the country.”
Both the current and former congressmen agree, the road back from the events of January 6 hinges on accountability.
“It is incumbent upon any elected official, to tell the truth, and be willing to stand up even against their own supporters,” Sen. Warner said. “Even when it’s those big lies come out of the White House.”
That accountability extends to holding the insurrectionists responsible.
“We allow these thugs to take over our Capitol without any consequences, at least so far? It’s a sad day for our country,” Warner said. “I hope and pray and I will do everything in my power to make sure there are consequences.”
Warner also says that he holds social media platforms at least partly responsible for the swarming of the Capitol. Calling the efforts of platforms to limit President Trump’s accounts “too little, too late,” Warner says he plans to introduce legislation to crack down on disinformation online in the weeks to come.