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More Than A Dozen GOP State Lawmakers Attended Rally That Gave Way To Riots

Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase, a Republican, listens to debate during the Senate session at the Capitol Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Chase attended the rally in Washington, D.C., in which rioters pushed their way into the U.S. Capitol.
Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase, a Republican, listens to debate during the Senate session at the Capitol Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Chase attended the rally in Washington, D.C., in which rioters pushed their way into the U.S. Capitol.

Updated Saturday at 10:14 a.m. ET

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Amanda Chase is facing calls to resign after attending the pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Chase addressed a crowd at the event but said she departed "just in time" before a mob began to riot and force its way into the U.S. Capitol.

Chase is one of more than a dozen state lawmakers from across the country who were in the nation's capital Wednesday, including newly elected West Virginia state Del. Derrick Evans, a Republican who is now facing charges after a video he live-streamed showed him entering the Capitol building.

Republican lawmakers from at least eight other states — Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Alaska, Arizona and Illinois — were present ahead of the riot or said they departed as the mob began to storm. Two outgoing state representatives — Rep. Anthony Kern of Arizona and Rep. Vernon Jones of Georgia, who announced earlier that day he had become a Republican — were in attendance. Another Virginia lawmaker, Del. Dave LaRock, was also at the rally.

In the days following the riot, Chase referred to the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol as "patriots" and later falsely claimed they were plants for antifa.

In a statement, Virginia Senate's Democratic Caucus wrote that Chase "unequivocally committed insurrection."

"She galvanized domestic terrorists who violated the United States Capitol on Wednesday afternoon through riots, destruction, and desecration, joining them on their march to Capitol Hill," the statement said, though it did not call for Chase to be expelled from the body — a step endorsed by some Virginia Republicans, including former U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock and former Virginia Del. David Ramadan.

The acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, told reporters on Thursday that the pro-Trump extremists could face charges of rioting, insurrection and seditious conspiracy.

Two of Chase's Facebook posts that inaccurately blamed anti-fascists for the violence on Wednesday were marked by the platform as false information. In a post in her personal account, Chase claimed on Friday that she had been locked out of posting to her over 135,000 followers on her official Facebook page for 60 days. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

Chase also did not respond to several requests for comment but left a statement on her personal Facebook page saying, "As a supporter of peaceful resistance and peaceful rallies, Senator Chase found it ridiculous that Virginia Senate Democrats would call for her resignation."

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a fundraising and organizing group for state Democrats, called for lawmakers who attended to resign or be expelled. DLCC president Jessica Post said in a statement that Republicans had "cheered on the rioters."

Stami Williams, a spokesperson for the Republican State Leadership Committee, a fundraising and organizing group for Republicans, said anyone who participated in illegal activity and breached the Capitol should be prosecuted.

"The RSLC strongly condemns acts of violence, illegal entry, and destruction, including those for which West Virginia Delegate Derrick Evans has been charged," Williams said in a statement.

Copyright 2021 VPM

Corrected: January 9, 2021 at 12:00 AM EST
A previous version of this story incorrectly described Barbara Comstock as a member of the House of Representatives. She lost her seat in the 2018 elections.