The state senator condemned the violence on Jan. 6, but stopped short of denouncing those involved.
RICHMOND-Virginia State Sen. Joe Morrissey requested a few things Friday afternoon. He asked fellow state Sen. Amanda Chase to denounce white supremacists. He also asked her to denounce “those people who stormed the Capitol, who breached the lines, entered the Capitol and caused harm and death.” She condemned the violence on Jan. 6, but stopped short of the rest.
“I wasn’t there,” Chase said. “In the three videos I did, my references were all to the peaceful protesters, not these other groups that invaded our capitol that day. I’ve openly condemned the actions of those who have done that. I condemn violence that occurred at the Capitol.”
On Jan. 6, Chase took part in the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington D.C., posting video to her campaign Facebook page. The senator even spoke to the crowd before the event started, demanding what she called “fair, transparent elections.” Later on, then-President Donald Trump took the stage, claiming Democrats stole the election. There hasn’t been any evidence supporting this claim. In fact, Trump and his legal team have lost more than 59 lawsuits trying to prove otherwise. Despite that, he told his supporters they should march to the Capitol. They did exactly that.
The group stormed the US Capitol, injuring several police officers, killing one and temporarily taking control of parts of the Capitol building. Chase meanwhile left during Trump’s speech, saying her security detail determined she needed to leave. Over the next several hours, she filmed multiple videos, calling the attackers patriots. She also condemned Capitol Police for killing Ashli Babbitt, one of the attackers.
And while those videos and posts have since been deleted from her campaign and personal Facebook accounts, multiple groups including Dogwood documented some of them.
A Confusing Claim
When Chase claims she was referring to the peaceful protesters, that also doesn’t make sense. In the videos, she specifically refers to people who “made it into the Capitol” on Jan. 6. Those would be the attackers.
“The people were upset and apparently some made it into the Capitol,” Chase says in one of the videos. “I will tell you that while I do support peaceful protest, I believe that we the people have had enough. And when you back good people, law abiding citizens into the corner, they will push back when given no other options. We would like to have a peaceful resolve to the events of today, but as you can see, there are many patriots that have already, we’ve had enough.”
Here’s the video in question:
But on Friday, as she tried to defend herself, Chase backed away from associating with any of the groups who attacked the Capitol.
“My whole goal was to assemble peacefully, to express peacefully my opposition to the election results, which is my right under the 1st amendment,” Chase said. “That does not mean I’m calling for an insurrection. When I got back to the hotel room and saw what was happening on the tv screen, I was horrified.”
She also argued that simply attending the rally didn’t mean she was responsible for what happened after.
“Many of us in this body have participated in protests and rallies. I’m not alone,” Chase said. “We cannot control, as legislators, what happens at that event. It would be no different than going to a concert where someone was injured and saying everyone was responsible.”
Other Senators Reject Chase’s ‘Clarification’
Multiple senators from both parties pointed out issues with Chase’s statements Friday. Republican David Suetterlein referred back to her post about the Capitol Police.
“Words matter,” Suetterlein said. “When you say they brutally murdered someone, that’s something that requires a lot of reflection. And then further identifying in the same post that these were not rioters and looters. That’s not what the statement that was made on the floor last week and on the internet said.”
In the censure resolution, state Sen. John Bell also questions how Chase can claim she’s not supporting insurrection. He points to another one of her videos from Jan. 6. It says “whenever a government comes after your constitutional rights, we have every right and reason to resist. When you back good people, law-abiding citizens into a corner, they will push back. When you cheat them of their elections, when you take away their constitutional rights and freedoms, you’re backing patriots like myself into a corner.”
Comments like those, Bell said, prove her intent and support of the insurrection.
However, he was willing to give her a chance. According to the Washington Post, a deal had been reached this week. If Chase stood up in session, apologized and clarified what she meant, the censure resolution would be dismissed. But instead of apologizing for her comments, Chase went a different direction.
“We should be able to exercise our first amendment right to speech, but with that is a responsibility because words do matter,” Chase said. “If I have offended any of you in this room because I am very passionate about the Constitution, I apologize.”
As a result, SR91 has not been set aside. Instead, it’s scheduled to be placed on the Senate calendar next week.
“[Her apology] was just far short of what was needed,” Bell said.
What Is Censure?
A censure is basically a formal statement of disapproval. There are no penalties, no one is removed from office. It’s just a document saying at least a majority of the group disagree with your actions.
The alternative is what’s called expelling. In order to make that happen, however, you need a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate. Unsure if enough lawmakers would support that option, Bell went with the censure.
Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].