After mobs of President Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, forcing the evacuation of both houses of Congress and leaving five dead, outgoing Colorado state Rep. Richard Champion, R-Columbine Valley, who attended the protest but said he remained outside the Capitol, called the event “extremely polite."
Champion — who until Jan. 13 represented Littleton, Columbine Valley, part of Centennial and nearby areas in the state House — said he flew to Washington, D.C., with his wife, Trish, to attend the “Stop The Steal” protest to object to what he called a “broken judicial and electoral system.”
Champion called the event that culminated in the storming of the House and Senate chambers “very peaceful.”
“It was very well organized and without mayhem or anything else,” Champion said by phone from a hotel room near the Capitol. “Apparently a couple young folks got into the Capitol, which we never saw.”
See also: Denver mayor closes city buildings early as hundreds protest outside state Capitol
Both houses of Congress were evacuated in the middle of deliberations over the certification of the Electoral College vote that found Joe Biden the winner of the presidential election. Photos from U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Aurora, show Capitol police with their guns drawn as the mob breached the chamber.
See also: State lawmakers denounce 'siege' on U.S. Capitol
Champion said he didn't know the identity of those who stormed the Capitol.
“I have no idea who they were supporting,” Champion said. “My understanding is one of them had a hammer and sickle tattoo.”
Photos show many members of the crowd wearing "Make America Great Again" hats and waving Trump flags.
In a followup email, Champion's wife blamed the storming of the Capitol on “Antifa,” citing a YouTube video purporting to show leftist antagonists among the mob.
FBI officials and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have both refuted claims that antifa or leftist agitators were involved in the riot.
See also: Perlmutter recounts Capitol insurrection
Champion called the evacuation of Capitol overblown.
“I don't think anyone was in danger,” he said. “There was nothing I saw that warranted that kind of response.”
Inside the Capitol, one woman protester was shot while climbing through a broken window during the storming of the building and later died, according to news reports. Three other rioters died during the siege: one man of a heart attack, another of a stroke, and a woman was apparently crushed by the crowd. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was allegedly beaten with a fire extinguisher before dying later in a hospital. No arrests had been made in Sicknick's death as of Jan. 9.
See also: U.S. Rep. Jason Crow: 'This was a domestic terrorist threat'
Champion said he and his wife were at the protest for roughly four hours, and spent time on both the east and west sides of the Capitol.
“We saw a lot of praying, a lot of chanting, the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance,” Champion said. “The people have the right to protest. Capitol police were very competent. People were thanking them for being there.”
Asked if he supports President Trump's call from July that protesters who damage federal property should face 10 years in prison, Champion said, “Absolutely.”
Champion said the real outrage was that he saw only two portable toilets provided for the protest despite the throngs of protesters, blaming the number on Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser.
“It was flat-out wrong,” Champion said of the number of portable toilets. “The mayor, that's what they do. That's how they try to show us what they think of us.”
Champion said the event paled in comparison to protests in Denver over the summer that left the Colorado State Capitol vandalized.
“This is nothing like what they did in Denver... They were completely rude, and they destroyed property,” Champion said. “This group today, if they saw trash on the ground, they'd pick it up.”
Champion said he believed the presidential election was “not fair” and questioned the results.
“I don't think it was fair or reasonable or right,” he said.
Trump and his supporters have lost more than 60 lawsuits against elements of the presidential election in numerous swing states, in courts ranging from state and appellate courts to the Supreme Court.
“I'm just talking about the presidential election,” he said. “I don't want to have sour grapes with my opponent.”
Champion, the former mayor of Columbine Valley who was selected by a GOP vacancy committee to the House District 38 seat in January 2020, lost his reelection bid to Democrat David Ortiz in November. Ortiz will be sworn in Jan. 13.
Champion said when Joe Biden is sworn in as president, “he will be my president. It's the same way I felt about Barack Obama. Too bad it wasn't the same way for Democrats when Donald Trump was elected. People want Republicans to be magnanimous about Biden, but they sure weren't when Trump won.”
Champion said he paid for every element of his trip to Washington, from the plane tickets to the hotel room and transportation.
“No one, I repeat, no one, including the Republican Party, aided my trip to Washington in any way, shape or form," he said.
Champion said he planned to fly home the next day, and had not encountered anyone else from Colorado while in Washington.
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