PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – It’s been one year since thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump swarmed the U.S. Capitol to protest the 2020 election results.
President Joe Biden gave a speech Thursday reflecting on the events that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021 and said democracy is at risk and an insurrection like that must never happen again.
In Oregon and Washington, elected U.S. officials said they’re still haunted by and remember vividly the events that unfolded that day. Some said they blame president Trump for inspiring the conspiracy that voter fraud resulted in his defeat.
Others said it’s painful to remember the attack, but American cannot forget what happened.
Here are statements from Northwest elected officials reflecting on the one-year anniversary of the insurrection:
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
“One year ago today, a violent mob stormed the Capitol to block lawmakers from completing their constitutional duty to certify election results and enable the peaceful transition of power.
“The January 6th insurrectionists were emboldened by President Trump to act upon the ‘Big Lie,’ the unfounded conspiracy that voter fraud caused his defeat in the 2020 election, and to use violence as a means to keep a losing president in office. This was an attempted coup to disrupt our institutions, sustain power, and overrule the will of the American people. Democracy prevailed that day because of the courageous efforts of Capitol Police officers who stood on the frontlines to ensure our institutions remained intact. Let us honor and commend their heroics on this day of remembrance, and support those who are still suffering in the aftermath.
“While the physical assault on the Capitol is now behind us, the broader struggle to defend our democracy continues—more urgently now than ever. The right for Americans to decide who holds power through their votes was under attack long before the violent insurrection, and that attack has only accelerated since. We cannot let Republican-led state legislatures use the Big Lie to systematically restrict our most fundamental constitutional right. Like the mob on January 6th, these legislatures are trying to hand power to their preferred candidates regardless of the will of the voters—a direct assault on our cherished constitutional, democratic values.
“There is no more time to waste. The Senate must act this month to curtail voter suppression, voter intimidation, and partisan subversion of election results by passing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Republicans at the state level are trying to ensure that they can seize power despite the will of the voters. Republicans have lined up behind an ex-president who incited a violent effort to block the peaceful transfer of power. Republicans cannot be allowed to also exercise a veto in the U.S. Senate against efforts to protect Americans’ most fundamental right to decide who governs. The Senate rules must be changed to pass these bills.
“The Senate was intended to be a cooling saucer, not a deep freeze. The founders intended for every senator to have a voice, but not a veto. The abuse of the current rules is preventing us from debating and addressing the big issues facing America—and there is no issue bigger than the right to vote—and so we must fix the rules to restore the Senate and save our democratic republic. The best way to honor the legacy of January 6th is to deepen our resolve to protect America’s ‘We the People’ governance. That means we must not let any attacks on democracy—whether a physical siege on a building or a backroom deal to block the ballot box—prevail.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
“Today marks the horrific anniversary of the date domestic terrorists carried out a violent plot in hopes of overturning the results of a U.S. election. Thankfully, the January 6 insurrectionists failed, and mass bloodshed was avoided thanks to the bravery of law enforcement officers, some of whom sacrificed their lives in defense of the Capitol.
“As our country commemorates the anniversary of that attack, we must remember this was not an isolated incident. It was not an exception to an otherwise well-functioning system. It was the violent manifestation of the ongoing Republican effort to end free and fair elections in the United States of America.
“The people who plotted January 6th, including some sitting members of Congress, are continuing to undermine our democracy in advance of the midterms and the next presidential election. The danger remains these treasonous plotters will attempt to falsely claim that faulty voting requires the next presidential election to be decided by the House of Representatives, rather than the American people. That’s why I believe strengthening the right to vote is the single most important remedy to these anti-American schemes. As long as I serve in the U.S. Senate I will do everything in my power – including overturning the filibuster – to ensure the ballot box is free, accessible and secure against interference by the enemies of democracy.”
Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., District 5
“The January 6 attack on our U.S. Capitol is one of the darkest days in American history. Lives were lost and many more were endangered, including those of my staff, colleagues and the law enforcement officers who risked everything to protect us. One year has passed, but we cannot allow ourselves to forget what happened, or the election fraud lies that fueled the violence. The rioters must face justice because their extremism and hate do not belong in America. It is painful to remember the attack, but we must keep drawing lessons from it to heal and ensure it never happens again. I promise to keep working in Congress to protect our democracy for all Oregonians and help our country move forward together.”
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., District 1
The Capitol attack on January 6, 2021 was unprecedented and un-American. Rioters injured more than 140 Capitol Police officers. 5 people lost their lives. The rioters chanted about killing our elected leaders and many carried weapons, zip ties, and maps.
I will always remember what it was like to be at the Capitol that day. And I will always remember that just hours after that attack, my colleagues and I returned to do our jobs and certify the free and fair election of our next President. This was the worst crisis our democracy has faced in my lifetime, and we all have a duty to acknowledge it, remember it, and make sure nothing like it ever happens again.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., District 3
“The attempt to attack members of the House and Senate forced them to flee for their safety. It turned the Senate and House chambers where I had spent countless hours doing the people’s business into a riot scene. But that wasn’t the worst of it. As order was restored after a pitched battle, injuries, and death, 147 of my Republican colleagues voted to overturn a free and fair democratic election. They took this reckless act as broken glass littered the floor, and before the blood had dried and the feces were cleaned up.
“I’m grateful that the U.S. Department of Justice is holding the perpetrators of the January 6 attack to account. I’m pleased that in the U.S. House we quickly passed legislation to ensure our elections would remain free, fair, and open to all. These efforts are now before the U.S. Senate. It is imperative that our Senate colleagues do whatever is necessary to enact these protections into law. Certainly, an arcane rule like the filibuster should not prohibit the protection of our democracy.”
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., District 4
“What happened on January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol, in no uncertain terms, was an attempted coup by insurrectionists encouraged by Donald Trump’s violent, destructive, and treasonous rhetoric and behavior, that resulted in the deaths of U.S. Capitol Police officers and rioters, and injured many more.
“For 245 years, the peaceful transfer of power following a free and fair election, as dictated by our Constitution, has been a bedrock of our representative democracy. The events of January 6 were an assault on that foundation, and on the will of the American people, spurred on by a sitting president intent on sowing chaos and the destruction of our democracy for his own personal gain.
“Thanks to the evidence gathered by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, we are learning how perpetrators planned to achieve their coup and that the insurrection was planned at the highest level of government. We now know the January 6 insurrection was strategically planned for weeks, targeting the certification of the presidential election in Congress as a last-chance opportunity to overturn the will of the people.
“It was all organized around a lie—that the 2020 election was stolen. The truth is, there is ZERO evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Yet to this day, the Republican Party continues to perpetrate the lie, and downplay, deflect, and in some cases defend the January 6 direct assault on our democracy.
“The success of our democracy depends on an active and engaged electorate. We are a nation of laws and democratic principles and our great democratic experiment will only work when we adhere to them.
“In order to move forward from this dark and painful chapter in our nation’s history, we all have a role to play. We must demand that our leaders and institutions combat misinformation about the 2020 election, and we must hold accountable the perpetrators of the January 6 coup attempt — including Donald Trump, his cronies, and the insurrectionists.”
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., District 3
Editor’s Note: Herrera Beutler’s office responded to KOIN 6 News’ request for a statement with answers the congresswoman gave to questions from The Spokesman-Review earlier this week.
A year after the events of Jan. 6, 2021, what impact has that day had on your work as a lawmaker?
“We have ongoing problems in this country that demand Congressional attention; runaway inflation that’s making it harder for Southwest Washington families to make ends meet, a rise in violent crime, deadly illegal drugs pouring across our borders, and a shortage of labor to keep our businesses afloat. And yet, too much of the public and too many politicians spend their time on misinformation about the last presidential election. It’s a distraction that keeps too many people from addressing the problems we face today.”
What impact do you think the events of Jan. 6 have had on the state of American democracy?
“Both parties have sowed too much mistrust about our electoral system. Today, you see polls that say large numbers of Republicans don’t believe President Biden was legitimately elected. Four years ago, polls showed even greater numbers of Democrats who didn’t believe President Trump was legitimately elected. In both cases, the public has been egged on by politicians who know better. It’s playing with fire, it’s undermining our democracy, and it needs to stop.”
After the various official and independent audits of the 2020 election over the past year, do you believe President Biden was legitimately elected?
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
“January 6th was a horrifying day for our country—a day we cannot forget or ignore. Americans—our fellow citizens—tried to stop our democratic process with brute force in order to overturn a free and fair election, simply because they did not like the outcome. That is not how democracy works in this country. We use our voices and votes to decide elections, not violence.
“I am thankful to the brave Capitol Police officers who fought to protect us that day, and my heart goes out to the families of the officers who lost their lives on that day and in the days after. I am thankful to my colleagues and so many people that work in the Capitol who refused to let a violent insurrection prevent us from doing our job to certify the 2020 presidential election. But that outcome was not guaranteed. January 6th showed us how fragile our democracy can be—and what could happen if we don’t defend it.
“Senators have a responsibility to stand up for our democratic process and ensure nothing like January 6th ever happens again. A responsibility to ensure leaders are chosen not by violence, but by elections where every eligible citizen in this country can make their voice heard at the ballot box. That is why I have long said that passing strong voting rights protections will be the most important thing we do this Congress.
“If we are to learn from January 6th, then we cannot sit by and just hope our democracy survives. We have to send legislation that protects every American’s right to vote to the President’s desk, and I’m committed to using every legislative tool available to get this done and make sure our democracy stays a democracy.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown
One year ago, attempts were made to shatter the sanctity of our electoral process—and they almost succeeded. In order to protect the fate of our democracy, Congress must pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act.
Our country cannot afford to wait.
I joined 16 of our country’s governors last month in calling on Congress to pass these critical pieces of legislation. Thank you to Oregon’s Congressional delegation for working to get these bills across the finish line.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
Today is the one-year anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. These acts of violence and intimidation were bravely met by officers of the U.S. Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Departments in Washington, D.C., lives were lost and officers were injured.
It is vital that we remember the heroism and sacrifice of those who defended the heart of our democracy and resisted this attempted insurrection. Our democracy depends upon our continued refusal to allow attacks our system of government and undermine the will of the people.
U.S. and state flags in Washington state, which are already currently lowered to half-staff, shall also now commemorate and honor those officers who were wounded, and whose lives were cut short, as a result of last January’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.