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North Dakota congressional delegation, governor denounce Capitol occupation

North Dakota congressional delegation, governor denounce Capitol occupation

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All three members of North Dakota's congressional delegation have denounced the violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

"Violence is never okay, and what is happening is abhorrent," U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., tweeted. "It must end and be condemned immediately."

U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., tweeted a thanks to Capitol police and other law enforcement, and said, "Rioting is not protesting. This needs to stop. Now."

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven also thanked law officers and tweeted, "We condemn the violence at the U.S. Capitol and encourage respect for the rule of law."

The Trump supporters sought to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election. Congress had convened for a joint session Wednesday to confirm the Electoral College vote.  

Cramer, Armstrong and Hoeven earlier this week all said they would not object to Democrat Joe Biden's win. 

All three, however, also questioned the integrity of the election. Hoeven and Cramer on Wednesday joined U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., in introducing legislation to establish a committee to examine the integrity of the election and make recommendations to state legislatures to improve the security, integrity and administration of federal elections.

“While I don’t believe objecting to the certified Electoral College votes is a constitutional way to remedy this problem, Congress can and should play a role in providing clarity to our constituents and restoring their trust in our elections,” Cramer said in a statement.

Congress is unlikely to agree to such a committee, according to The Associated Press.

All three delegation members have supported Trump in the past. Shortly after Trump lost to Biden in November's general election, they attended and spoke at a "Stand With Trump" rally on the state Capitol grounds in Bismarck.

Dozen of Trump supporters also gathered peacefully at the state Capitol on Wednesday. Trump is widely popular in North Dakota. He cruised in the November election, winning nearly two-thirds of the vote.

Republican Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday tweeted that he supports the right to peacefully protest but that "the violence happening at our nation's Capitol is reprehensible and does not represent American values, and needs to stop immediately."

North Dakota's Democratic-NPL Party issued a statement calling the occupation "an attack on the free and fair election won by President-elect Joe Biden" and "an apparent coup attempt." The party accused the state delegation of previously repeating "baseless conspiracy theories that were thrown out of court more than 60 times since the election for entirely lacking evidence."

Democratic-NPL Executive Director Michael Taylor said he hoped the delegation members, their colleagues and staff were OK but added "every single Republican who shouted about widespread fraud for which they have absolutely no evidence stoked the fire that is now exploding."

"We urge them to return to the world of facts, and use this frightening occurrence to help President-elect Biden bring the country together, rather than to continue tearing us apart,” Taylor said.

State Democrats also noted that Attorney General Wayne Stenehejm last month joined North Dakota to a multistate lawsuit challenging presidential election results in four battleground states won by Biden. Stenehjem at the time said North Dakota was not alleging voter fraud but wanted to see the U.S. Supreme Court "weigh in and settle it once and for all." He said the state incurred no cost from joining the suit.

Reach Blake Nicholson at 701-250-8266 or blake.nicholson@bismarcktribune.com.

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