Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham broke ranks with President Donald Trump after the outgoing leader incited his supporters who stormed the Capitol building, hailing them as “great patriots.”
Speaking on the Senate floor during a joint session of Congress, Graham, one of Trump’s hitherto staunchest allies, said he and the president “had a hell of a journey.”
“I hate it being this way. Oh my God I hate it,” he said in animated remarks after Congress reconvened after being stormed by Trump’s supporters. “All I can say is ‘count me out. Enough is enough. I’ve tried to be helpful.'”
The Capitol was overrun earlier in the day as lawmakers were set to convene a joint session of Congress that is traditionally a mundane affair of Electoral College vote counting.
Trump and many of his Republican allies have for months falsely alleged that the election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden by 7 million votes was rigged, stirring emotions among his supporters with conspiracy theories that have been repeatedly rejected in court. The Justice Department also found no evidence to support his claims of widespread voter fraud.
Trump earlier Wednesday stirred the pot during a nearby rally with his supporters just hours before the Capitol was overrun, telling them he would “never concede” defeat, alleging there was “theft involved.”
“Our country has had enough, and we will not take it anymore,” he told a mass gathering of people, many of whom likely later flooded the Capitol. “We will stop the steal.”
One person died after being shot during the Capitol melee.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said after Congress reconvened that Trump “bears a great deal of the blame” for the anarchy and bloodshed.
“Today’s events did not happen spontaneously. The president who promoted conspiracy theories that motivated these thugs, the president who extorted them to come to our nation’s capital, egged them on, he hardly ever discourages violence and more often encourages it,” the top Democrat said. “This mob was in good part President Trump’s doing, incited by his words, his lies.”
Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.