Come Wednesday, the country will have a new leader with President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. It comes as Washington, D.C. is still reeling from the assault on the Capitol 12 days ago. Republican South Dakota Sen. John Thune was critical of President Donald Trump when the senator spoke with KELOLAND News on the phone Monday about the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
“The president is, because of the ongoing claims about fraud in the election, got a lot of people very spun up, and I think he did a disservice to people across this country, including many in South Dakota that I’ve heard from who believe that the election was stolen,” Thune said. “It was not.”
It’s a reality that not everyone accepts right now.
“The election was won and lost fairly and squarely,” Thune said. “There are always incidents of irregularities and fraud as there are in every election, but nothing on a level that would have changed any outcome in any state.”
Dan Santella: Do you think the president incited those people in any way?
“Well I think he, the president encouraged people obviously to go up to the Capitol,” Thune said. “I don’t think you can hold him responsible for violent behavior, unless of course there, that can be proven that he encouraged that, which I have not seen.”
Thune again uses the word “disservice” to describe Trump’s messaging.
“I think the fact that the president for so long continued to try and convince people in this country that the election was stolen from him was a disservice to people, and it got people to believe something that wasn’t true, and I think that, you could argue I suppose, was partly the, at least at the beginning, the origin of a lot of this,” Thune said.
The senator is also looking into what will happen with Trump’s second impeachment.
“I think there are some very serious constitutional questions that we’re looking into on whether you can impeach a former president,” Thune said. “It is a process obviously that’s inherently divisive for the country, there’s no way around that, and I question the wisdom behind it, and whether it’s what the country needs right now, but if the articles come over, obviously if we do have a trial, I’ll follow the Constitution.”
For now, Thune is not tipping his hand on how he’ll vote.
“I made it very clear that I don’t agree with the president’s conduct leading up to January 6, but in light of the fact that there is a, potentially a trial coming up at the moment, I probably will refrain from making any other comments about that,” Thune said.