Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) who recently announced a bid for Senate, is calling the pro-Trump mob who stormed the Capitol “fools,” after previously lauding those who appeared at the Ellipse during a rally before the Capitol was breached as “American patriots.”
“That whole day we were working months toward was just blown to pieces by those fools who attacked the United States Capitol,” Brooks told AL.com in an interview published Saturday, criticizing the Capitol rioters for breaching the Capitol complex and suggesting they had done harm to the Republican Party’s efforts to ensure honest and fair elections.
The effort to chastise Capitol rioters for violence comes after Brooks in remarks at Trump’s rally on Jan. 6, asked if those in attendance were prepared to give their lives for their country.
The Alabama lawmaker has been a fierce defender of former President Donald Trump and was among a group of House Republicans who said they would back a challenge to certifying the Electoral College victory of Joe Biden, then President-elect.
“Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” Brooks said at the Ellipse on Jan. 6.
He later added: “Our ancestors sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes and sometimes their lives to give us, their descendants, an America that is the greatest nation in world history. So I have a question for you: Are you willing to do the same?”
Brooks quickly issued a statement condemning the violence after the riot in January, and appeared to whistle a different tune months later, when he cautioned against violent protest and condemned violence from all “political persuasions” during the AL.com interview.
“Everybody who engages in violence, regardless of political persuasions, ought to be prosecuted in order to minimize the riots, the vandalism and the arson that these criminals inflict under the guise of protest. It is a First Amendment right, Freedom of Speech, to protest. It’s a First Amendment right to petition your government for redress of grievances,” Brooks said on Friday. “But that line is crossed when you engage in violent conduct. Those people engaged in violent conduct, who abuse their First Amendment rights, should be prosecuted across the board.”
Brooks has repeatedly denied that his own rhetoric leading up to the Capitol attack had advocated violence.
“Anyone with a brain larger than a pea knew that I was not advocating violence,” Brooks told reporters on Wednesday.
Brooks’ Friday comments, follow an effort by former President Trump to introduce the wildly false claim during a Fox News interview on Thursday night that some of his followers had engaged simply in “hugging and kissing the police,” when they breached the Capitol earlier this year.
During the Friday interview, Brooks also appeared to teeter into a rewriting of history. He downplayed the gambit to challenge Biden’s Electoral College victory during the Jan. 6 joint congressional session, suggesting he had hoped the antidemocratic effort would simply be a healthy dose of debate.
“We were going to have a debate on the House and Senate floors about voter fraud and election theft and that message, those facts, did not get out through the news media,” Brooks said.
Brooks also tweeted criticism of the AL.com interview on Saturday for apparently mischaracterizing his stance on allegations of voter fraud.
He accused the publication of inserting the words “baseless” or “unproven” in reference to his comments about allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, when he in fact stood by the evidence-free claims.
“2020 voter fraud & illegal voting was real & massive. Sigh,” he wrote.