U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo said Wednesday from his offices in the nation’s capitol that he and his staff were “safe and secure” after a mob of people stormed the building to protest the certification of the 2020 presidential Electoral College results.
“That whole thing kind of snuck up on us,” Palazzo said during a phone interview with the Sea Coast Echo Wednesday.
Palazzo said he, his staff and everyone else in the capitol were still under a “shelter in place” order on Wednesday after rioters interrupted a joint session of congress to certify the election results.
Palazzo represents Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District, which includes Hancock County and the rest of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, as well as the Pine Belt region.
“The lockdown will continue until the perimeter is safe and secure,” Palazzo said. “The Capitol Police are very serious about that.
“The National Guard has been called in. There’s also a 6 p.m. curfew that’s going into effect in a few minutes, so hopefully, we won’t have to be here all night, and I can come out soon.”
Palazzo was not on the House floor at the time of the break-in, he said.
“The way that it was set up because of COVID-19 … only those members that were going to be speaking within an hour were allowed on the House floor. I was not scheduled to speak until later this evening.”
Palazzo is one of a large contingent of Republican legislators who object to certifying the Electoral College results declaring former Vice President Joe Biden the winner over President Donald Trump..
He said Wednesday that he still plans to speak before Congress and he still plans to object to the certification.
“I was supposed to be speaking this evening,” he said. “I was going to be talking about Pennsylvania and also commenting on the other states where there are some questions about the process. My emphasis is pretty much on the four states where those states circumvented their own constitutions, they sidestepped their legislatures” to change rules about absentee ballots and other voting procedures.
“To me, that was wrong and that could have changed … the election. We need to bring attention to it and the most important thing is, we cannot have half of Americans believe that the national election was fraudulent. … We have to protect Democracy.”
However, Palazzo condemned the protesters who stormed the building Wednesday.
“This is not what some people are saying,” Palazzo said. “This was a rally to support the president and a rally for people to voice their frustrations with Congress” and the election.
“And 99 percent of those people were law-abiding, peaceful protesters. It’s that one percent — it’s always that one percent, we’ve seen that throughout 2020. That one percent, they’re not there to support democracy. They’re there to incite violence.
“I hope and pray that they’re caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Other Mississippi lawmakers spoke out on social media on Wednesday.
“To everyone who has asked, I am safe,” Sen. Roger Wicker said on Twitter. “I thank the brave men and women of the U.S. Capitol Police and federal law enforcement for their work to bring this lawlessness and violence in the Capitol building to an end.”
“Whatever frustrations any American may have, violence & destruction in the U.S. Capitol, the seat of our democratic government, is unacceptable,” Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said on Twitter. “I’m grateful for @CapitolPolice those working to stabilize the situation."
“These thugs have no respect for our democracy,” U.S. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson said.
Palazzo said he wasn’t sure when Congress would reconvene to certify the Electoral College results, but it had to be soon.
“We’re not going to reconvene until the perimeter is secure,” he said. “We do not yet know the extent of the damage. There were some windows broken” and other damages inside the building. “Only when we can return safely to conduct the nation's business will we return.
“Constitutionally, though, we have to return soon. The election must be certified for the president to take office on Jan. 20. … We could easily be going into the weekend before the Electoral College is certified.”
Palazzo said he and his staff appreciate the calls of support and social media messages from the constituents back home in Mississippi, as well as the efforts of law enforcement officials to keep everyone in the Capitol safe.
“This is just another reminder of why we should always thank law enforcement officers,” Palazzo said. “They put their lives on the line for all of us, often for people they don’t even know. We need to thank them and their families for their sacrifices.”