U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood on Friday said President Donald Trump does bear responsibility for Wednesday's insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, while Rep. Cheri Bustos said she supports efforts to remove Trump from office before Inauguration Day.
"Words matter. Words matter from the president. They matter from elected officials," said LaHood, a Peoria Republican who also represents parts of Bloomington-Normal. "And encouraging people to riot and protest and go to the Capitol—those are things that, in retrospect, should not have been said."
Bustos, a Democrat from Moline, said Trump is directly responsible for "one of the worst days in American history."
"That all began with him urging his followers to go march on the capital and that he would march right alongside," Bustos said.
Bustos said she wants Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to "do the right thing" and invoke the 25th Amendment to immediately remove Trump from office. She said if that doesn't happen, she would be in favor of impeachment.
"I've already voted to impeach the president once, and if it comes down to that—he has not improved as a president of the United States," she said.
However, LaHood said he does not support invoking the 25th Amendment, or impeaching the president a second time.
"We are a divided country. We all know that. And it is terrible what happened on Wednesday," LaHood said. "But I'm not supportive of impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment. I think that will further divide our country."
LaHood said he plans to attend President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, and he believes President Trump should reconsider his decision not to attend.
"We have to move forward like we have in other presidential elections, in making sure we have a smooth, and secure, and orderly transition is important over the next 12 days."
Unlike many of his House Republican colleagues, LaHood voted to certify the Electoral College results. Two other area GOP congressmen, Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger, also did not object to certifying the electoral votes.
"I didn't support Joe Biden," said LaHood. "I worked for President Trump. I wanted to see him get elected. But Joe Biden won. "I look forward to working with this new administration on finding common ground and moving forward."
LaHood said Trump's taped election concession released Thursday was the right move, but should have happened earlier, adding he hopes the president follows through on the sentiments he expressed in that video committing to a peaceful transition of power during his final days in office.
Bustos said she doubts the likelihood of Pence exploring the 25th Amendment option, but feels a change in the Oval Office is necessary.
“I think we’re at the point now where President Trump either needs to prove that he has the ability to lead, or he has to step aside or be removed. I think literally we’re to that point,” she said.
She also called out many of Trump’s supporters in Congress for their role in inciting the mob action by trumpeting unfounded claims of rampant election fraud.
“My message to people like Sen. Josh Hawley and Sen. Ted Cruz is that they're disgraceful,” said Bustos. “They knew that this was a free and fair election; they knew that there was no hard evidence of votes being stolen. The evidence just does not support that, and they knew it.
“Yet they tried to stoke the flames of very angry people, and I would argue that they were putting their own personal ambitions over the United States of America, and frankly I have no use for people who did that.”
Bustos said Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will have to work hard to try and reunite the nation, adding although some law enforcement agencies have come under scrutiny following the insurrection, many officers need to be commended for their actions.
“I want to say to the Capitol Police who were in the House chambers, they saved our lives,” she said. “They kept that angry mob away from doing harm to us, and they saved the lives of a of a lot of people. There was a failure of leadership; many of these police officers didn't even have riot gear and one of them lost their lives.
“We will have a full review of what happened from a law enforcement perspective. But I do not want this broad brush painted over everybody in law enforcement who was there and stood up to these deranged people.”