U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin spoke on the Senate floor ahead of Congress certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election and after a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol building.
“The vote we’re going to have here is a clear choice of whether we are going to feed the beast of ignorance or are we going to tell the truth to the American people? We saw that beast today roaming the halls. Let’s not invite it back,” Durbin said.
Here is his speech from the Senate floor late Wednesday:
“Thank you, Mr. Vice President. In March of 1861, a Springfield lawyer caught a train to Washington. His name was Abraham Lincoln. It wasn’t his first trip here. He had served as a Congressman 15 years before and he returned in the beginning of the Civil War to serve as President.
“It was a different place than he knew it as Congressman and in 15 years, it had changed a lot. The Spriggs boarding house across the street, which is now the Library of Congress, was gone, and this building was changing. Big changes. They were building a dome on the Capitol. But they were also in the earliest days of war — and President Lincoln was counseled, stop building the dome. It costs too much money and we can’t spend any more time on it. And he said: no, we’re going to build that dome and we’re going to finish it. That dome and this building will be a symbol of this country that will survive the Civil War and come back strong.
“So they built the dome. They won the war. And since those days, that dome and this building have been a symbol to this country, a symbol of unity and of hope.
“Tourists came through here before COVID-19 by the tens of thousands. And if you’ve ever noticed their tours, they’re often shushed. People are saying show some respect for this building.
“We know this building, in the Rotunda, as the place where some of the greatest American heroes of both political parties lie in state, and we go there to honor them.
“We know this building because we work here. We enact laws here that change America. We gather for State of the Union messages from Presidents and honor the people in the gallery.
“This is a special place. This is a sacred place. But this sacred place was desecrated by a mob today—on our watch. This temple to democracy was defiled by thugs who roamed the halls and sat in that chair, Mr. Vice President, the one you vacated at 2:15 this afternoon, sat and posed for pictures, those who were roaming around this chamber.
“What brought this on? Did this mob spring spontaneously from America? No. This mob was invited to come to Washington on this day by this President for one reason – because he knew the Electoral College vote was going to be counted this day. He wanted this mob to disrupt the Constitutional process which we are a part of. This mob was inspired by a President who cannot accept defeat.
“If you wonder whether I’m going too far in what I say, just read the transcript with the Secretary of State from Georgia and listen to the President’s wild conspiracy theories, one after the other, swatted down by that Republican elected official and his attorney as having no basis in fact. This President begs, he coaxes, and he even threatens that Secretary of State to find the votes he needs. In any other venue that would be a simple, obvious crime. The lengths he’ll go to are obvious.
“The Texas Senator says to us many people still agree with him, you know, when it gets down to the bottom line. Many people have fallen for this Presidential position, that it must have been a rigged election if I lost. Well, I would say that after — we’ve lost count — 57 lawsuits, 62 lawsuits, I’ve heard so many different numbers. After 90 different judges, after this President took his case, the best he could put together, to the highest court in the land across the street where he has personally chosen three justices on the Supreme Court, I say to the Senator from Texas, you know much more about that court than I do. I don’t believe that they let that paper that he sent up there even hit the desk before they laughed it out of the Court. And that’s the best he had to offer. No evidence whatsoever of this rigged election and this fraudulence.
“The Senator from Texas says we just want to create a little commission. Ten days, we’re going to audit all the states, particularly the ones in contention here, and find out what actually occurred. And it really draws its parallel to 1876, Hayes and Tilden. Don’t forget what that commission achieved. It was not some ordinary governmental commission. It was a commission that killed Reconstruction, that established Jim Crow, that even after a Civil War, which tore this nation apart, it re-enslaved African Americans, and it was a commission that invited the voter suppression we are still fighting today in America.
“Let me close by saying this. The vote we’re going to have here is a clear choice of whether we are going to feed the beast of ignorance or we are going to tell the truth to the American people. We saw that beast today roaming the halls. Let’s not invite it back.”
PHOTO: In this image from C-Span, Dick Durbin gestures toward the seat of the vice president: “This temple to democracy was defiled by thugs who roamed the halls and sat in that chair, Mr. Vice President, the one you vacated at 2:15 this afternoon, sat and posed for pictures, those who were roaming around this chamber.”