Moments before Donald Trump-supporting rioters breached the US Capitol, a fundraising email from Senator Josh Hawley’s campaign was sent to supporters, following the Republican’s spurious objections to results from the 2020 presidential election that sought to legitimise the president’s false claims of a stolen election.
The Missouri Republican was the first among GOP senators to announce plans to object to electors in one of the states that certified results for president-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
His campaign email was sent out as a joint session of Congress convened on 6 January to formally count the Electoral College votes.
In his email, he said: “Many career politicians in the DC establishment want me to stay quiet. I suppose you can assume nothing I do will matter. That it won’t matter if I object or not, so I should sit by and do nothing."
“But this is not about me!" he added. "It is about the people I serve, and it is about ensuring confidence in our elections.”
Read more: Live updates from Capitol riot aftermath
An automated campaign text from Texas Senator Ted Cruz, among a dozen other senators who pledged an attempt to overturn election results, also was sent to his supporters as lawmakers convened.
“I’m leading the fight to reject electors from key states unless there is an emergency audit of the election results,” the message said. “Will you stand with me?”
Moments later, the House and Senate were forced into recess, as pro-Trump rioters – incited by the president and propelled by conspiracies and false claims of voter fraud – broke into the Capitol, threatening lawmakers barricaded in their chambers and offices.
On Fox News on Wednesday, Republican Senator Tom Cotton condemned “some senators who, for political advantage, were giving false hope to their supporters, misleading them into thinking that somehow yesterday’s actions in Congress could reverse the results of the election or even get some kind of emergency audit."
"That was never going to happen, yet these senators, as insurrectionists literally stormed the Capitol, were sending out fundraising emails,” he said.
Missouri’s Kansas City Star, Senator Hawley’s home-state newspaper, issued a damning editorial placing the failed insurrection’s blame on his shoulders and arguing he "has blood on his hands in Capitol coup attempt.”
The editorial said that "no one other than President Donald Trump himself is more responsible” for the violence that led to the death of at least four people at the Capitol, including a woman who was fatally shot by Capitol Police.
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