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Iowa's Members Of Congress Say They Are Safe After Pro-Trump Extremists Violently Stormed U.S. Capitol

J. Scott Applewhite
U.S. Capitol Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday..

Iowa’s six federal lawmakers said they were safe Wednesday afternoon as a large group of President Trump’s supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol during the electoral college vote certification.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican who has a special security detail because he is third in line to the presidency, was escorted out of the Senate chamber Wednesday afternoon as the mob broke into the building. His press office tweeted that Grassley is in a secure location.

Later in the afternoon, Grassley released a statement condemning the insurrection as an attack on American democracy.

"This was not a demonstration of any of our protected, inalienable rights," Grassley said. "These were un-American acts worthy only of condemnation. Those who plowed over police barricades, ignored law enforcement or desecrated our monument to representative democracy flouted the rule of law and disgraced our nation."

He called for the pro-Trump extremists to be prosecuted "to the fullest extent of the law."

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said she and her staff are safe.

"What’s happening at the Capitol right now is not peaceful nor a protest," Ernst tweeted. "It’s anarchy, & a betrayal of the American ideals we all hold dear."

Iowa’s four members of the U.S. House of Representatives (three Republicans and one Democrat) all tweeted that they were in safe locations and denounced the violence.

Democratic 3rd District Congresswoman Cindy Axne tweeted, "These people are attacking Congress at the invitation of [Trump]. Please sir, tell them to stop."

Republican 2nd District Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks was on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives when far-right extremists stormed the Capitol. In a call with reporters while she was sheltering in place, she said she expects the chamber to be "somber" when the debate over electoral votes resumes.

"Many of us see this as, um, as a sad day in our democracy," Miller-Meeks said. "So I think that the mood will be somber. But, again, I would strongly encourage people to protest, but there are ways to do that."

She called on Trump to condemn violence from his supporters and tell them to leave the Capitol to allow Congress to finish certifying the results of the presidential election.

Republican 1st District Congresswoman Ashley Hinson was in her office when the mob broke into the U.S. Capitol. She said Trump should speak more strongly against the violence committed by his supporters.

"This is not how our democracy functions," Hinson said. "Violence is not the answer, and we need the president to say so. Words matter. Inciting violence is not the answer, and I think we need a stronger response from the president."

Hinson said she has questions about why security was unprepared to keep Trump supporters from forcing their way into the Capitol.

The Des Moines Register reported some Trump supporters gathered for a protest at the Iowa Capitol Wednesday that ended without violence. A spokesman for the Iowa State Patrol said they do not expect additional activity at the Statehouse Wednesday evening.

Electoral college vote count paused as violence continues

Before the violence started, Hinson and Miller-Meeks announced they would vote to accept the states' electoral votes to officially declare Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election.

Grassley, Ernst and Republican 4th District Congressman Randy Feenstra did not say how they would vote as some other Republicans launched an objection of Arizona's election results, with more objections likely to follow.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter
Grant Gerlock is a reporter covering Des Moines and central Iowa