DeWine: Storming of Capitol Hill was 'gut-wrenching,' an 'attack on the rule of law'

Posted at 7:44 PM, Jan 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 23:24:49-05

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is no stranger to disappointment in the results of an election. Twice the Republican lost races for re-election to the U.S. Senate before becoming Ohio's attorney general and then top executive.

But that kind of disappointment shouldn't lead to the events that transpired on Capitol Hill Wednesday, he said.

"To see the Senate chamber, where I spent 12 years, to see it invaded and basically members run out... This is a direct attack on the Constitution. It's a direct attack on the rule of law," he told WCPO 9 News anchor Tanya O'Rourke.

In a one-on-one interview Wednesday afternoon, DeWine reflected on what he called a "gut-wrenching" moment in U.S. history after a crowd of President Donald Trump's supporters broke through a police barricade and forced their way into the Congressional hall. The crowd had gathered to protest Congress' expected move to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory in November, a race about which Trump has continued to promote claims of voter fraud without evidence.

The incident resulted in one woman dead from a gunshot wound, more than two dozen Capitol Police officers wounded and damage done to the Capitol building. Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were evacuated shortly before the crowd entered.

"Every American has to speak out against this and say that this is simply not acceptable," DeWine said.

READ MORE: Local leaders speak out after Capitol Hill protest turns violent

Earlier in his career, DeWine worked as a prosecutor. While he stopped short of describing the crowd's actions as "terrorism" -- as his counterpart in Kentucky did -- he called it a "mob" that violated federal law and deserves prosecution.

"I think this should be prosecuted under federal law, and I'll leave it up to the U.S. attorneys who will deal with that," he said.

Earlier Wednesday, U.S. Attorney David DeVillers with the Southern District of Ohio said he would prosecute any resident from the area officers suspect traveled to the Capitol to engage in illegal activity.

At the heart of Wednesday's events was the disruption to the Constitution process, DeWine concluded.

"This is not just a random protester who decided to go into the Capitol. This was a mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol and caused the constitutional process, the counting of the electoral votes, to stop," he said. "Just think about that. That's something, you know, that we used to see on TV in third-world countries, and we'd shake our heads and say, 'Oh, that's terrible.'"

He said he worries the long-term impact the incident will have on the nation's security.

"We have the world now looking at us. The only people who are happy about this, I suspect, are our enemies: the Russian government, the Chinese government. I'm sure they're very happy about what they're seeing going on in Washington, D.C.," DeWine said.

"I've lost two elections to the U.S. Senate, so I know defeat," he continued. "No one likes defeat, but what you do is go back and say, 'You know, I'm going to win next time. My cause is going to win next time.

"That's what we do in this country. We have elections."

Watch Tanya O'Rourke's full interview with DeWine here:

Mike DeWine reflects after a crowd stormed Capitol Hill during the presidential election certification