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Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith Votes for Trump Coup Attempt After Bloody Insurrection in D.C.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, seen here at a campaign event late last year, voted to block certification of the 2020 election results in Arizona even after a violent pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo courtesy Hyde-Smith campaign

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Mississippi Republican, joined five other senators this evening in an unsuccessful attempt to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. The state’s three Republican congressmen also voted to object Arizona’s certified votes for Biden.

The vote came hours after Hyde-Smith and other members of Congress had to clear the U.S. House and Senate floors to take shelter as a violent group of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building to stop lawmakers from certifying the results of the 2020 election.

“I, along with my constituents, are alarmed with the erosion of integrity of the electoral process,” Hyde-Smith said in a statement after the vote. “The people I represent do not believe the presidential election was constitutional and cannot accept the Electoral College decision; therefore, I cannot in good conscience support certification.”

Hyde-Smith voted against certifying the electoral votes for Arizona, a key swing state that helped Biden win the electoral college vote majority necessary to claim victory. Even before the Nov. 3 election, Trump was making false and unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud, and filed dozens of lawsuits challenging the election process in swing states Biden won, including Arizona.

But despite months of wild claims, neither Trump nor his Republican backers have produced evidence of electoral fraud or made specific claims about electoral irregularities that would change the outcome of the election.

Wicker: Coup Incompatible With ‘Conservative Principles’

Mississippi’s other U.S. senator, Roger Wicker, is the only Republican in the state’s congressional delegation who has recognized Biden’s victory, albeit belatedly in mid-December. This evening, he joined 92 other members of the Senate to reject the Trump-backed attempt at a coup d’état. 

Earlier today, before Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol, Wicker said in a statement that he was “disappointed in the outcome of the 2020 election,” but that it was “time to acknowledge” that “our campaign lost a close election.” 

Biden won the popular vote by 7 million votes with 51.1% of the popular vote—the highest share of the vote any challenger to a sitting president has won since Franklin D. Roosevelt beat Herbert Hoover in 1932.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, has acknowledged President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory and opposes the effort by some in his party to prevent him from taking office. Photo courtesy Sen. Roger Wicker

“The president’s own attorney general, his head of election security, and a number of Trump-appointed, conservative federal judges all have found that, despite widespread allegations of fraud, there simply was not enough evidence to change the outcome of the election in any state,” Wicker, who served as the co-chairman of Trump’s Mississippi campaign, said in this morning’s statement. “This is also the conclusion of every Republican secretary of defense from the past two decades.”

The senator noted that, under the Constitution and federal law, Congress’ role is “limited to counting electoral votes duly submitted by the states” and “anything further would not be compatible with our Constitution or the conservative principles of limited government that I have sworn to defend.”

“Congress cannot—and should not—get into the business of deciding the results of our elections,” said Wicker, who has rarely opposed Trump in the Senate.

In this morning’s statement, the Republican said he feared that “any attempt by Congress to overturn state election results would empower national Democrats to hasten the end of the electoral college, which preserves a small voice for states like Mississippi.” 

Trump won the electoral college in 2016 despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 3 million ballots, just as George W. Bush won it in 2000 despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore by half a million ballots. The electoral college gives small, rural states outsize say compared to larger states with bigger urban centers.

“I know many of my fellow Mississippians will disagree with my decision, and I share their commitment to making sure our elections are fair,” Wicker said in today’s statement. “But I must vote according to my conscience, my oath of office, and my understanding of the rule of law. I hope that with the start of a new Congress, we can take steps to restore faith in America’s electoral system.”

‘These Thugs Have No Respect for Our Democracy’

In a speech this morning to supporters who had gathered in D.C. ostensibly to protest the certification of the 2020 election results, Trump falsely claimed the election had been “rigged” by “radical Democrats” and the “fake news media.” 

“And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you. … Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong,” said Trump.

“We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We’re not going to take it anymore. … Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy,” the president told his faithful followers.

Hours later, Trump watched the scenes of calamity unfold from the comfort of the Oval Office as supporters carrying Trump flags and Confederate flags scaled walls, broke windows, rammed doors, and rampaged throughout the Capitol building, looting offices and violently clashing with Capitol Police.

U.S. House Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, blamed Trump for the violent mob that stormed the Capitol today. Photo courtesy U.S. House Rep. Bennie Thompson

The insurrectionists’ storming of the Capitol interrupted proceedings on the House and Senate floor, with the Secret Service whisking Vice President Mike Pence and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris out of the building and to safety, while hundreds of lawmakers fled to safety. Soon after, gunfire rang out from the U.S. House floor as protesters sought to break in, leaving one woman dead.

At 1:37 p.m. CST, U.S. House Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi’s only Democratic or Black member of Congress, tweeted that he was “locked in the Capitol and securing face masks for members.” 

“These thugs have no respect for our democracy,” Thompson, who chairs the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, tweeted later.

In another tweet, the 2nd Congressional District congressman attached a photo of fellow lawmakers hunkered down in the Capitol.

“The events of today are the inevitable result of the tyrannical and idiotic leadership of Donald Trump. It is domestic terrorism and armed insurrection,” Thompson wrote. “This possibly would not have happened if Senate Republicans stepped up to the plate and removed their despicable leader.”

After the U.S. House voted to impeach Trump last year amid accusations that he sought to use foreign aid to extort Ukraine’s president into helping him hurt Biden’s candidacy, Sens. Hyde-Smith and Wicker both voted to acquit Trump. They also voted against allowing witnesses at the Senate trial, even though dozens of officials came forward with evidence and offered to provide testimony.

‘Political Violence is Always Wrong’

Mississippi House Rep. Trent Kelly, a Republican who serves Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District, also tweeted as he sheltered, asking the marauding Trump supporters to “please keep protests peaceful and lawful.” 

“I condemn all acts of violence,” Kelly wrote. 

Amid the chaos, U.S. House Rep. Michael Guest, a Republican who represents Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, wrote that he and his staff were safe. 

U.S. House Rep. Steven Palazzo, a Republican who represents Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District, joined Mississippi’s other two Republican house representatives, Trent Kelly and Michael Guest, in backing the effort to stop President-elect Joe Biden from taking office despite his clear election victory. Photo courtesy Rep. Steven Palazzo

“Violence and threats against our democracy cannot be tolerated. Please continue to pray for law enforcement officers as they seek a peaceful resolution to this situation & continue to pray for our nation,” he wrote.

Rep. Steven Palazzo, the lawmaker for Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District who over the weekend announced his plans to back the effort to overturn the 2020 election, also said in a statement this afternoon that he and his staff were “safe” and said he was “disheartened to see today’s event turn violent and attacks launched against our hardworking police officers.”

“The right to peacefully protest is sacred—and it’s one that must remain protected. Protests must stay peaceful and should not escalate to a point of violence,” Palazzo said.

‘This is What Sedition Looks Like’

Local and state leaders also spoke out today.

“Political violence is always wrong. Law and order must win over mob rule. The country we love desperately needs prayer and God’s protection,” Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted.

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a Republican who joined several Trump-backed lawsuits in November and December that challenged the election results in swing states Biden won, also criticized the insurrectionists on Twitter, writing that “violence and destruction of property are unacceptable.”

“We must continue to support our law enforcement as they protect us. Prayers for unity and peace,” she wrote.

“This is what sedition looks like,” wrote former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Espy. Photo by Ashton Pittman.

The Democratic mayor of Clarksdale, Miss., also weighed in.

“Today’s rebellion is unimaginable and a dark day in our nation’s history. Yet we will always uphold the principles of our democracy and not be moved by insurrection,” Mayor Chuck Espy said in a statement today. “No coup or mob will prevent a peaceful transfer of power, and leaders of the U.S. Congress, especially the Black Caucus, are to be commended for their bravery for carrying out the will of the people.”

The mayor’s uncle, 2018 and 2020 Hyde-Smith Democratic opponent Mike Espy, spoke out on Twitter, calling the day’s events “criminal and shameful.” In 1986, he became Mississippi’s first Black congressman elected since Reconstruction and later served as President Bill Clinton’s secretary of agriculture.

“This is what sedition looks like,” the 2020 Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate wrote. “Sedition is a serious felony punishable by fines and up to 20 years in prison and it refers to the act of inciting revolt or violence against a lawful authority with the goal of destroying or overthrowing it.”

Mississippi Sen. Brice Wiggins implied a contrast between what happened in the nation’s capital today and what happened in Mississippi’s capital.

“Here in Mississippi today we made history that our children can be proud of. We put into law (w/ Gov.’s signature) our new flag, a flag that represents all of our citizens and our positive culture.  Honored to have presented the bill today,” Wiggins tweeted, referring to state lawmakers’ vote to officially adopt a new state flag after retiring the old Confederate-themed one last year.

‘No Political Party is Greater Than This Country’

Mississippi House Rep. Missy McGee, a state Republican who represents parts of Hattiesburg, Miss., tweeted that it was a “sad day in our nation.”

“The greatest country in the world. A nation with laws. A nation that has a procedure and a history for a peaceful transition of power. No man, no political party is greater than this country,” McGee wrote.

In a tweet, the Mississippi GOP said the party “condemns the violence and rioting at the U.S. Capitol,” calling it “inexcusable and an affront to the dignity of the nation we love.”

No man, no political party is greater than this country,” wrote Mississippi House Rep. Missy McGee, a Hattiesburg Republican.

On Facebook, former Mississippi House Rep. Mark Baker, who unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for Mississippi attorney general in 2019, also condemned the violence on Capitol Hill. He also blamed his party’s president for it.

“You can’t stack the wood, pour the gas, and light the match and then claim innocence,” Baker wrote. “This was expected and intended. President Trump, you should be ashamed.”

Tupelo, Miss., Mayor Jason Shelton, a Democrat, tweeted that “Donald Trump’s supporters and a warring foreign nation are the only two groups to ever attack the United State’s Capitol,” referring to the 1814 Burning of Washington by British invaders. 

“Donald Trump is responsible for this and needs to be immediately impeached and removed from office,” he wrote.

‘The Mobs Will Not Stop the Senate’

Once police had secured the Capitol hours after the mobs first stormed it, U.S. lawmakers returned to continue debating objections that Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri initiated. This morning, Hawley pumped his fist to show support for the Trump crowd, who had already been clashing with local police the night before.

Appointed U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, a Republican who lost her election yesterday for the seat to which Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed her last year, said days ago she would support blocking the certification of the electoral college in Arizona and other swing states Biden won. 

But in a speech on the Senate floor once debate resumed this evening, she said she had changed her mind.

“The events that transpired have forced me to reconsider, and I cannot now in good conscience object to the certification of these electors,” Loeffler said. “The violence, the lawlessness and siege of the halls of Congress are abhorrent and stand as a direct attack on what my objection was intended to protect, the sanctity of the American democratic process.”

Before this evening, Hyde-Smith had not signaled whether or not she would support Trump’s latest attempt at an electoral coup. She voted aye this evening, alongside Hawley, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas.

After President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ victory, Trump and many of his supporters launched dozens of lawsuits with vague claims of voter fraud, but federal and state courts across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court, rejected those challenges. Photo courtesy Joe Biden campaign.

“The American Democratic process is working despite the unacceptable violence and destruction at the U.S. Capitol today,” Hyde-Smith said in the statement after her vote this evening. “The mobs will not stop the Senate from fulfilling its constitutional duty. I promise to represent the people of Mississippi and the certification process gives me an opportunity to voice their concerns.”

Hyde-Smith’s support for Trump’s attempt to overthrow the duly elected incoming government came even after the president continued egging on and praising the mobs of supporters at the Capitol, earning him a temporary ban on Twitter as the platform and rival Facebook deleted some of his most incendiary posts today.

“I firmly believe in our Constitution, the rule of law, and the importance of full faith in the integrity of our elections,” Hyde-Smith said in the statement this evening. “We, as a nation, must do everything we can to protect and restore confidence in our electoral process.”

After the U.S. House voted to impeach Trump last year amid accusations that he sought to use foreign aid to extort Ukraine’s president into helping him hurt Biden’s candidacy, Sens. Hyde-Smith and Wicker both voted to acquit Trump. They also voted against allowing witnesses at the Senate trial, even though dozens of officials came forward with evidence and offered to provide testimony.

After the Senate voted this evening, 121 House Republicans also voted to overturn the 2020 election, an effort that also failed with 303 Democrats and Republicans opposed. Those supporting the attempt including Reps. Guest, Kelly and Palazzo—the three Mississippi members who, while in hiding just hours earlier along with Hyde-Smith, had condemned the violent insurrection that Trump had directed.

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