As a violent mob laid siege to and then occupied the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, members of Illinois’ congressional delegation tweeted eyewitness accounts of the historic violence.
“This is a coup attempt,” Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon tweeted early in the incursion.
Later, Kinzinger — sharply critical of President Donald Trump in recent weeks over the president’s continued refusal to accept his loss to Joe Biden — blasted Trump over the violence.
“The current president incited this coup and encouraged it and did little to protect the Capitol and the Constitution,” Kinzinger said in a short video released on Twitter. “He is no longer the leader of our party. Our party must reject these treasonous acts.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove called for Trump’s impeachment on social media Wednesday night, tweeting that the president “must be held accountable for this treason on our country.”
“There is no doubt that the president incited today’s violent attack on our democracy,” Casten said in an earlier Facebook post. “Today’s attempted coup will go down as one of the darkest moments in our nation’s history. My staff and I are safe but our democracy is not.”
U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, a Naperville Democrat, expressed a similar sentiment in a statement issued late Wednesday, saying Trump needs to be removed from office immediately.
In an earlier news release, Underwood criticized the attack as “an infuriating, heartbreaking and un-American disgrace.”
“These terrorists will not win and democracy will prevail,” she said.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth tweeted that she never thought she’d need to “defend democracy from (an) attempted violent overthrow in our own nation’s Capitol.”
“I will not yield to those who seek to harm our democracy,” Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates, tweeted.
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat, was on the House floor when the assault began and was among those ushered to safety by Capitol Police. He called the attack a “clear act of domestic terrorism.”
“Make no mistake: President Trump and his enablers are personally responsible for inciting this violence,” Quigley tweeted.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield tweeted a condemnation of the insurrectionists.
“These are neither protesters nor patriots. They are rioters and criminals,” he tweeted. “And they should be prosecuted as such.”
U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Schaumburg Democrat, said it’s a “dark day” for the nation.
“Our country is better than this, our democracy is stronger than this, and we will move forward,” Krishnamoorthi tweeted.
Downstate Republican congressmen Darin LaHood of Peoria, Mike Bost of Murphysboro and Rodney Davis of Taylorville also issued statements or tweets condemning the violence.
“Americans cherish our right to free speech & peaceful protest,” Bost tweeted. “But what’s happening in our nation’s capital is not just unacceptable, it’s un-American.”
LaHood said he was in the Capitol as rioters broke into the building.
“What happened today was one of the most shameful things I have seen,” he said in a statement. “The rioting and violence must stop. We are a nation of law and order, and those who are responsible for the actions and violence today must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. As Americans, we are much better than this.”
Members of the U.S. House and Senate on Wednesday had gathered to debate whether to accept or reject the Electoral College’s selection of Democrat Joe Biden as the nation’s next president.
Debates were called to a halt by the assault on the Capitol. When they resumed Wednesday night, Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Springfield took the floor, calling the Capitol dome a “symbol of unity and of hope” and admonishing protesters for the violence that ensued.
“This sacred place was desecrated by a mob today on our watch,” he said, adding that he believes it was Trump’s intention to disrupt the constitutional process.
“The vote we’re going to have here is a clear choice of whether we are going to feed the beast of ignorance or we are going to tell the truth of the American people,” Durbin continued. “We saw the beast today roaming the halls. Let’s not invite it back.”
In a call with reporters, Duckworth praised a congressional staffer for grabbing the Electoral College ballots as the chambers were being evacuated.
Duckworth said she and other Democratic senators still hoped to certify the election results Wednesday night.
“I will not be deterred from carrying out my constitutional duties by a violent mob,” Duckworth said.
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat, told the Daily Herald he was on his way to the Capitol when he noticed police vehicles heading in that direction and started receiving a stream of messages from his fellow lawmakers about the unfolding violence. He turned around and found safety elsewhere.
He was shocked by the images he saw on TV.
“This is a direct assault of one branch of government on another,” Foster said. “The responsibility lies at the foot of President Donald Trump, who encouraged this mob action, and at the foot of every politician who has tolerated lies and threats of violence and failed to speak out against it.”
In an interview on CNN, Kinzinger called the violence “absolutely, utterly despicable.”
“Every single Republican leader has got to call this out forcefully and be held accountable,” he said.
Still, Kinzinger was confident the “guardrails of democracy and the Constitution will hold.”
• Daily Herald Senior Deputy Managing Editor Diane Dungey and staff writers Christopher Placek and Lauren Rohr contributed to this report.