'Sickening and heartbreaking': All former presidents condemn violence at Capitol
WASHINGTON – All the living former presidents released statements condemning the violence and breach of the United States Capitol on Wednesday while calling for the nation's leaders to unite.
President Barack Obama said “History will rightly remember today’s violence” that was “incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of a great dishonor and shame for our country.”
He said, “we would be kidding ourselves” if it came as a surprise as the Republican party and its “accompanying ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth” that Trump lost the election.
“Their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo.”
Obama called on GOP leaders to make a clear choice to “choose America” and that he is “heartened to see many members of the President’s party speak up forcefully today.”
President Bill Clinton released a statement, saying that "today we faced an unprecedented assault on our Capitol, our Constitution, and our country."
Clinton named Trump explicitly, stating: "The assault was fueled by more than four years of poison politics spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in our system, and pitting Americans against one another. The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost."
Clinton said the "election was free, the count was fair, the result is final" and "We must complete the peaceful transfer of power our Constitution mandates."
"I have always believed that America is made up of good, decent people. I still do. If that's who we really are, we must reject today's violence, turn the page, and move forward together—honoring our Constitution, remaining committed to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people," he concluded.
President George W. Bush, the only living former Republican president, released a statement stating he and former First Lady Laura Bush are “watching the scenes of mayhem unfolding at the seat of our Nation’s government in disbelief and dismay.”
Calling it a “sickening and heartbreaking sight,” the statement continued that “this is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic.”
Without naming Trump, the statement said, “I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement.”
“The violent assault on the Capitol – and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress – was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes,” the statement reads, continuing that “it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law.”
"Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation," Bush said.
President Jimmy Carter said he was “troubled by the violence at the U.S. Capitol today.”
“This is a national tragedy and is not who we are as a nation,” he said. “Having observed elections in troubled democracies worldwide, I know that we the people can unite to walk back from this precipice to peacefully uphold the laws of our nation, and we must.”
“We join our fellow citizens in praying for a peaceful resolution so our nation can heal and complete the transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries,” the statement concludes.