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Wyoming Republicans condemn storming of Capitol

By Camille Erickson

Casper Star-Tribune

Via- Wyoming News Exchange

CASPER — Several Wyoming Republicans spoke out to condemn the violence unfolding in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The interruption halted the certification of electoral votes, triggered a mass evacuation and left at least one person dead.

Gov. Mark Gordon said he was “heartbroken,” calling the events at the nation’s Capitol an “assault on our democracy.”

“The United States of America is resilient,” Gordon said in a statement. “It has weathered many storms because of our form of government and our remarkable Constitution. The violence that we are witnessing in the U.S. Capitol dishonors our legacy and denigrates the ‘Shining City on the Hill’ Ronald Reagan spoke of. Interfering with the peaceful transfer of power is an affront to the very Constitution that has made our country what it is.”

Trump easily secured a win in Wyoming, with 70% of voters casting their ballot in favor of the president, the highest margin in the nation. Several Wyoming Republicans have so far refused to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, pointing to unproven allegations of widespread voter fraud.

Over the weekend, the Wyoming Republican Party sent a letter to the state’s three-member delegation in Washington imploring them to reject the Electoral College votes in “all states where irregularities and fraud have been documented.” Over 60 members joined the letter. According to the Wyoming Republican Party’s Facebook page, Chairman Frank Eathorne attended the rally in Washington. On Wednesday afternoon, the group posted a video taken outside the White House.

“This is what’s really happening near the White House in case the media is not reporting,” the post said. “Chairman Eathorne is there with other great Wyoming patriots!”

The Wyoming Republican Party and Eathorne did not return requests for comment for this story.

But other lawmakers here appeared eager to move on from the presidential election.

“Who did I vote for? I voted for Donald Trump,” Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander said. “Is that who I wanted to see be president? Yes. But at the end of the day, I think you have to accept rulings made and if you disagree with those rulings, than there are other ways to have your concerns heard. But it’s not through violation of law.”

Others called on the country to find common ground, saying they did not condone the violence.

“I believe that the events of today highlight the need more than ever for us to reunite as a country,” said Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne. “This really showcases how divisive American politics have become in the last decade,”

He’s worried there will be more instances of violence in the coming weeks leading up to Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden will take office.

“I’m optimistic that when all this settles down, both parties will take a look at where they are and what’s best for the future of the country,” Zwonitzer said. “Because we can’t have elections in the future get to this level of vitriol and lawlessness.”

Local lawmakers and community leaders here uniformly rejected the events led by far-right extremists on Wednesday, with several Republicans squarely blaming the president for inciting the violence.

“I absolutely think this falls 100% on President Trump’s shoulders,” said Landon Brown, a Wyoming House Republican representing Cheyenne. “It’s disgusting. Not a single time did I expect to see the U.S. Capitol stormed by protesters and American citizens shot because of a protest.”

He called the mob’s behavior “despicable” and “un-American.”

Republican Rep. Shelly Duncan, R-Torrington, labeled the violence an act led by “domestic terrorist(s)” in a post on Facebook.

“Currently holding our congress hostage, breaking windows of the capital, breaking into offices and no regard for safety of staff & congress or capital police!” she wrote.

Many lawmakers said the president’s recent comments promoting the rally and mayhem were a direct cause of the Capitol complex breach. But just as many were ready to deflect responsibility away from Wyoming GOP leaders who made similar comments.

Though opposed to the unrest happening on Wednesday, Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, did take issue with what he considered a disproportionate reaction to the protests led by conservatives on Wednesday, compared to rallies held this summer for racial justice.

“They’re protesting, but they’re not tearing the town down or burning up everyone’s buildings,” Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, said of Wednesday’s mob. “So why is there such a reaction for a conservative group having a demonstration?”

Data collected and analyzed by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, in collaboration with the Bridging Divides Initiative at Princeton University, found 93% of protests held by groups supporting the movement for Black lives this summer were peaceful.

Nonetheless, Anderson said the state needed to look ahead toward the future, and focus its energy on solving the problems facing Wyoming.

“I think it’s time to get serious about leading the nation and quit fighting,” he said.

The Wyoming Democratic Party also expressed outrage at the course of events that spiraled out of control.

“What’s happening right now in Washington, D.C. is the culmination of the Trump Presidency,” Wyoming Democratic Party Chair Joe Barbuto said in a statement. “These people are not protesters or patriots, they are domestic terrorists who were beckoned by the dog whistle of Donald Trump. The President of the United States is complicit in this violence, as are those who have enabled and defended his actions, conspiracy theories, and words over the last four years. That, unfortunately, includes our own federal delegation to D.C.”

Barbuto criticized Sen. Cynthia Lummis for joining a small group of Republican senators in opposing the certification of the 2020 election results.

Though Rep. Liz Cheney and Sen. John Barrasso announced they would support the certification of the election results, Lummis called on members of Congress to reject the 2020 Electoral College results and audit allegations of voter fraud. She had initially recognized Biden’s victory in last year’s election.

House Speaker Steve Harshman, R-Casper, said he commended Barrasso and Cheney for backing Biden’s Electoral College win. He called the actions by throngs of Trump supporters on Wednesday, “a really, really bad day for our country.”