For two months, President Donald Trump has spewed false claims that he won the November election and falsely accused Democrats of trying to "steal" the White House. And as the lame-duck president has refused to accept reality, he has called on his supporters to fight for him.
Today, throngs of Trump sympathizers and members of far-right extremist groups stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., where both houses of Congress were meeting to complete the formality of certifying the votes of the Electoral College. As darkness fell, Trump supporters had overwhelmed Capitol police, and the building remained on lockdown.
Who could have seen this coming?
Literally everybody, except the Florida Republicans who have indulged the president's baseless claims of election fraud. Now, the same lawmakers who coddled Trump and fanned the flames of his delusions are condemning the violent uprising the president's supporters are staging in Washington D.C.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who did not take a stance ahead of the Electoral College vote certification, referred to today's events as "3rd world style anti-American anarchy" and pleaded with the president to intervene.
Just before noon, Florida Sen. Rick Scott released a statement on Twitter saying he would "likely" challenge the election results in Pennsylvania, one of the swing states President-Elect Joe Biden won. His statement cast doubt on the validity of the election and opined that the election in Pennsylvania "pose[s] a serious threat to the integrity of future elections."
Less than four hours later, Scott condemned the rioters and said that what's happening in D.C. is "not what our country stands for."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stood behind Trump's claims of voter fraud and made appearances on Fox News to question the integrity of the election. DeSantis also pondered the possibility that legislatures in some battleground states might appoint Trump electors to override the popular vote.
Then DeSantis, too, tweeted this afternoon that the rioting in D.C. was "unacceptable." (Given that the governor has made it his mission to criminalize acts of protesting in Florida, it will be interesting to see what consequences he might suggest for the insurrectionists up north.)
Last year, newly minted Florida Congressman Carlos A. Giménez, who'd just left office as Miami-Dade County's mayor, joined a chorus of lawmakers who urged Trump not to concede the election to Biden.
Today, Giménez called the "lawlessness" at the U.S. Capitol "abhorrent and disgusting" and implored Trump — the man who, during last year's nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, co-opted a racially tinged phrase uttered by a white police chief in Miami in 1968: "When the looting starts, the shooting starts" — to tell the rioters to disperse.
Last month, Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart backed one of Trump's lawsuits challenging the election results.
Today he tweeted that the "lawlessness and violence" at the Capitol were unacceptable.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody also backed a lawsuit to overturn the results of the election. Today, she tweeted that the United States is "a nation founded on rule of law and respect for those who uphold it."
This afternoon, Trump released a one-minute recorded video statement urging his supporters to go home and advocating for peace and "law and order." But he spent much of the video reiterating his false claims that election had been "stolen from us" and that he had won in a "landslide." Twitter attached a disclaimer to the video stating that the president's claims were disputed and disabled responses to or sharing of the post "due to a risk of violence."
Not long afterward, Florida Congressman Charlie Crist, who served as Florida's Republican governor in the mid-2000s but later switched to the Democratic Party, tweeted that the president ought to be removed via invocation of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.