‘Hope they all get prosecuted,’ SC’s Lindsey Graham says 6 months after Capitol riot

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to reporters on the fifth day of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 at the Capitol in Washington. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool via AP)

Six months after a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on the day Congress certified the November election results, South Carolina’s U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters he hopes all the offenders are prosecuted.

“I was there. It was shameful, it was despicable, and the people who did it need to go to jail,” the Seneca Republican told reporters Tuesday ahead of a meeting of the Easley Rotary Club.

So far, at least seven South Carolinians have been arrested on charges connected to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

They include a Lexington County man, who last month was sentenced to federal prison for 28 months for threatening a former federal prosecutor, a freshman who attended South Carolina’s military college, The Citadel, and a Hanahan couple.

Some 500 people have been arrested in connection with the riot, according to news reports, and more arrests are likely.

Fueled by misinformation about election fraud and an allegiance to former President Donald Trump, hundreds of people marched to the U.S. Capitol after Trump spoke on Jan. 6 and broke into the federal building. They stormed the Senate and House chambers and sent members of Congress and staff into hiding. Many Capitol Police officers were injured, and some died as a result of the riot.

In his view, Graham told reporters that Trump’s speech didn’t “cause the riot,” but added, “it didn’t help.”

Hours after the mob entered the Capitol, Graham, a loyal Trump ally, spoke from the Senate chamber.

“I hate it to end this way. Oh my God, I hate it. From my point of view, he’s been a consequential president,” Graham said back in January. “But today, first thing you’ll see. All I can say is, count me out. Enough is enough. I’ve tried to be helpful.”

Months after the attack, some in Congress have downplayed the riot, including Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde who referred to it as just a “normal tourist visit.”

“The people who breached the Capitol committed a crime. They defiled their Capitol. That was not a peaceful protest, and I hope they all get prosecuted,” Graham told reporters Tuesday. “This is not democracy. That was anarchy. I think it’s important to understand the difference between peaceful protest and a riot.”

After the riot, the U.S. House voted to impeach Trump over his involvement in the riot, but the Senate acquitted him. Joining the Democrats in impeaching Trump was U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, who also voted to create a Jan. 6 commission.

In a tweet Tuesday, U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, also looked back on the unprecedented events six months ago.

“Exactly 6 months ago, we witnessed a horrific & violent assault on our democracy,” Clyburn tweeted. “But we returned, fulfilled our constitutional duty & certified the 2020 election. To heal our nation’s soul, we must stand strong against the big lie & continue our pursuit of a more perfect union.