MONTGOMERY — Gov. Kay Ivey says Americans need to “press pause” on divisive rhetoric after the U.S. Capitol was ransacked Wednesday by a mob of President Donald Trump supporters, and she was critical of the rhetoric of U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks preceding the violence.
Brooks has not backed away from his remarks at the pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., that preceded the riot, in which he told the crowd, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”
Later, attendees from the rally swarmed Capitol Hill, breaching security and accosting police officers. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol Hill police officer and an Athens man in town for the rally.
While many Democrats and some Republicans have criticized Brooks for his rhetoric in light of the violence that ensued, the Huntsville congressman defended his conduct.
“I make no apology for doing my absolute best to inspire patriotic Americans to not give up on our country and to fight back against socialists in the 2022 and 2024 elections,” Brooks said.
He said his reference to “ass” referred not to the buttocks but to the Democratic Party’s symbol of a donkey.
Ivey said leaders should be more responsible with their rhetoric.
“Everyone should be held accountable for the words they use,” Ivey said. “I’ve long believed that as elected officials, we should be held to a higher level of accountability. If the people of the 5th District believe their views are not being properly represented, then they need to express their disappointment directly to Congressman Brooks and, if necessary, hold him accountable at the ballot box.
“Moreover, it should be noted, he does not speak for all Republicans, much less all Alabamians.”
Ivey said she disagrees with calls to remove Trump from office by way of impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment because “it would create more chaos and would only incite further violence.” She called for a peaceful transition of power as scheduled.
“All Americans need to press pause on divisive rhetoric, take a step back and do some deep soul-searching on how we got to this point of pain, ugliness and loss of life,” she said.
Responding to Ivey’s criticism, Brooks insisted he did not call for violence.
“To the extent anyone suggests I have ever called for violence, that is pure unadulterated bunk,” Brooks said. “In my rally speech I called on people to exercise their constitutional right to protest for the things they believe in, and to fight for our cause at the ballot box in the 2022 and 2024 elections."
He pushed back on Ivey's suggestion that 5th District voters could vote for another candidate in 2022.
“As for the 2022 elections, Governor Ivey is absolutely correct and I welcome any challengers who wish to cower and surrender to the socialist Democrat agenda at a time when we must be resolute and determined to fight for and defend the foundational principles that have combined to make America the greatest nation in world history,” Brooks said.