Though Rep. Brett Guthrie was not on the Senate floor when a group of President Donald Trump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, he was still forced to take cover from his office. Guthrie spoke to Owensboro Times about the historic event, his feelings on impeaching Trump, and his desire to defend democracy at all costs.
As protestors pushed their way through police lines and broke into the Capitol building, Guthrie was watching Senators debate overturning Arizona’s electoral votes.
Guthrie was in Washington D.C. participating in a Congressional joint session to vote on each state’s electoral votes. Following the assault on the Capitol, that session went into the early morning hours on Thursday after Congress reconvened to eventually accept the results of the presidential election in Joe Biden’s favor.
“I decided to hear the Senators speak. Both Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul made impassioned pleas to follow the Constitution, and that’s what happened,” Guthrie said. “When the [protestors] came inside, you could see it on [the Senators’] faces. That’s when we all got the alert. We all had to be sheltered.”
Guthrie said he’d already decided to approve each state’s electoral votes before hearing McConnell’s and Paul’s speeches defending the Constitution and the voting process.
“I supported McConnell’s defense of the Constitution. I spent a lot of time reading and came to that conclusion on my own,” Guthrie said. “The 12th Amendment describes how we count electoral votes.”
Guthrie said he wasn’t sure what exactly led to protestors storming the Capitol, but that he believed “the whole false narrative” perpetuated by Trump regarding a fraudulent election — among a series of other false statements made since Nov. 3 — played the biggest role in setting the stage for the violent act.
Still, Guthrie said, there was no excuse for what took place.
“I’m not sure why someone would hit someone else with a fire extinguisher — that’s just evil,” he said. “To march to Washington and overturn the election — that was never going to happen. It was just false hope. The House is led by Democrats and there was zero probability that the House was going to overturn the election. When Trump realized that, he called on [Vice President] Mike Pence to not count them. I’m not sure what they were thinking there. It doesn’t make sense.”
The House announced its intent to impeach Trump shortly after Guthrie’s interview with Owensboro Times. Prior to that announcement, Guthrie said he believed there were more important things to focus on than reconvening to spend the final 12 days of Trump’s presidency impeaching him.
“If you call the House of Representatives back into session, we have hearings and meetings, and that’s a few days from when the powers change,” he said. “Then the Senate has a hearing. Currently, we need to monitor the situation [with Trump]. We all have oversight of the executive branch. Mine is Health and Human Services, and we still need to get vaccines distributed. I think that’s where our focus needs to be.”
Regardless of Wednesday’s incident, Guthrie said everyone in Congress — Republicans and Democrats alike — were determined to do their Constitutional duty and certify Biden as the 46th President.
“And no violent mob was going to prevent us from doing that,” he added.
Looking ahead, Guthrie will be facing a different political landscape — Democrats will control the Presidency, House and Senate after winning all three branches in the 2020 election.
While he acknowledged the future would inevitably lead to disagreements between those from opposing parties, Guthrie also said he’d already been in talks with Democratic colleagues of his about legislative issues.
“We’ll see,” he said. “Hopefully Vice President Biden will come in — he wants to unite us and not divide us, and I hope that’s what happens.”