Dear Mr. Strauss,
Thank you for contacting me regarding the events at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, and the subsequent actions taken by Congress. Knowing your thoughts and concerns helps me better represent the people of Missouri’s 2nd District.
On January 6, 2021, Congress met in a joint session to certify the Electoral College votes from the 2020 presidential election. A significant amount of controversy surrounded this certification, with multiple members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate objecting to the electoral votes submitted by various states. These objections were raised due to claims of irregularities and voter fraud within the states in question.
Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment are clear. The power to elect the President of the United States lies with the states and the people, not Congress. Specifically, each state “shall appoint, in such Manner as the [State] Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors” and “the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President.” It is the constitutional duty of Congress to count the electoral votes sent by each state.
I did not object to the electoral college votes as this unconstitutionally inserts Congress into the presidential election. In effect, it replaces the Electoral College with Congress, and strengthens the efforts of those who are determined to eliminate it or render it irrelevant. This would amount to stealing power from the people and the states. All states certified their election results and electors, and alleged irregularities were taken to state and federal court over five dozen times and rejected, even by judges appointed by President Trump. While I may not have liked the outcome of the election, I refused to try to usurp the powers of the individual states of our republic.
During the joint session of Congress, thousands of protesters marched on the United States Capitol seeking to stop the certification process. As both the House and Senate were debating, many individuals broke into the Capitol, vandalized the building, ransacked congressional offices, stole historic artifacts, and placed the lives and safety of Members of Congress, their staff, and law enforcement at extreme risk. This attack, however, did not stop Congress from fulfilling its constitutional duty, as both the House and Senate returned to the joint session to certify the election after the Capitol was secured many hours after the breach.
As a result of this riot, seven individuals lost their lives, including two U.S. Capitol Police officers and one Washington DC Metropolitan Police officer. Between the two law enforcement agencies, it is reported that nearly 140 officers sustained injuries while protecting those inside the Capitol complex. These brave men and women are true patriots and heroes. I pray for a swift recovery for all of those who were injured, and my sincerest condolences go out to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives.
January 6 was a dark and tragic day for our nation. We have a democratic process for a reason, and the future of our republic depends on us respecting the results of the free and fair elections in which we all participate. A hallmark of our country is peaceful protest, but this riot was not peaceful, it was a violent act intended to disrupt Congress’s constitutional duty in the presidential transition. President Trump’s statements during and in the immediate aftermath of the assault on democracy were antithetical to the leadership our nation desperately needed in a time of crisis.
On January 13, 2021, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump for his role in the attack on the Capitol, barely a week after those horrible events. A consequential vote of this nature, something that has happened rarely in our nation’s history, should only be taken after the appropriate investigations and a complete airing of the facts so our vote can be fully informed. This is a necessary step for impeachment that was bypassed.
That does not mean, however, that President Trump should escape accountability for his role in the violence that took place on January 6. I supported censuring the President for his rhetoric to ensure that his behavior was not deemed acceptable to future leaders, or to our adversaries around the globe. While I am confident that a bipartisan censure resolution would have passed both the House and Senate, unfortunately Speaker Pelosi chose further divisive actions that stood no chance of being implemented and did nothing to hold President Trump accountable. Our nation needs to heal and come together, not retreat further into partisan corners.
Again, thank you for contacting me on this important issue. Hearing the views of all Missourians gives me the opportunity to better understand how important issues could impact the people of our state and the future interests of the nation. In that regard, your input is most helpful.
For additional information on current legislation and my representation of the 2nd Congressional District, I invite you to visit my website at https://wagner.house.gov.
Member of Congress