07 Jan 2021

American Bar Association slams Trump supporters' assault on US Capitol

ABA president Patricia Lee Refo condemns 'criminal' attempt to subvert 'revered American tradition'

Police with guns drawn stand near a barricaded door as protesters try to break into the House Chamber Alex Gakos: Shutterstock

The American Bar Association condemned “in the strongest terms” a Trump-supporting mob who forced their way into the US Capitol building on Wednesday in an attempt to obstruct the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Patricia Lee Refo, ABA president, said: “Storming the Capitol and disrupting the procedure of certification is not a peaceful protest. It is criminal conduct. President Donald Trump and all other leaders must condemn this violence immediately, demand that it stop, and protect the safety and lives of those inside the Capitol.”

President Trump had earlier held a rally for supporters outside the White House where he continued to rail against the results of the election, repeating – without evidence – accusations of voter fraud, claiming he won the election “by a landslide” and maintaining that he will never concede. Trump lost the Electoral College by 306 votes to 232. He also lost the popular vote for a second time.

Refo said: “The 2020 election was fairly conducted, and the results are accurate. The system worked. Claims of impropriety were thoroughly and openly investigated. Dozens of lawsuits challenging the election results were carefully considered by courts, including the US Supreme Court. No evidence of any significant fraud was found.”

She added: “Our election system was tested and delivered a free and fair election for the American people. States investigated claims of irregularities, conducted audits and recounts, and certified results. The Electoral College met and voted in accordance with the will of the American people. And Congress, as set forth in the US Constitution and federal statute, is set to cast an overwhelming and bipartisan vote to certify the Electoral College vote.”

Thousands of Trump supporters – some dressed in combat gear, and others waving Trump flags – stormed the Capitol, chanting “stop the steal”. One protester was shot inside the building and later died. Republican senator Mitt Romney called it an insurrection, and blamed Trump for inciting the violence.

Refo said: “The peaceful transition of power from one elected president to the next is a revered American tradition going back more than two centuries and serves as a model to the rest of the world. All elected officials and others in positions of civic responsibility must now uphold their oath to defend the Constitution, support a peaceful transition of power, and thereby protect the rule of law.”

Congress eventually ratified Biden's election in early hours of Thursday morning after the Capitol building was cleared and a curfew  imposed to help secure the surrounding area. By then several law firm leaders had joined the ABA in condemning the assault on the Capitol including Dentons US CEO Mike McNamara, Perkins Coie firmwide managing partner Bill Malley and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison chairman Brad Karp. 

"As the largest law firm in the world, we frequently speak on the rule of law across the globe," said McNamara. "Those same principles apply in our Nation. Follow the law. Follow our Constitution."

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