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George W. Bush on US Capitol insurrection: ‘I’m still disturbed when I think about it’




“I can’t remember what he was doing, but … he was sick to the stomach … watching our nation’s Capitol being assaulted by hostile forces,” Bush said in an interview with The Texas Tribune as part of the SXSW virtual festival which was recorded on February 24 and made public on Thursday. “And it really bothered me to the point that I made a statement, and I’m still restless when I think about it.”

The episode, Bush said, “undermines the rule of law and the ability to express oneself peacefully in the public square.”

“That was an expression that was not peaceful,” he added.

Bush had joined the three other former U.S. presidents alive in condemning the attack on the Capitol immediately afterwards, accusing in a statement at the time: “This is how the election results are disputed in a banana republic, not in our democratic republic.”

“I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the elections and by the lack of respect shown today by our institutions, our traditions and our law enforcement,” he said. “The violent aggression on the Capitol – and the interruption of a meeting of Congress with a constitutional mandate – was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”

Now the Department of Justice has charged more than 65 people to assault law enforcement, but is still seeking information to identify other people involved in assaults during the insurgency, according to a press release Thursday.

The assaults are some of the most serious among more than 300 people arrested on charges of the Capitol riot, which left five people dead, including a U.S. Capitol police officer, and injured more than 100 police officers.

Asked directly during the interview about whether the election was stolen, Bush replied, “No.”

The former president has largely remained out of politics since he left office in January 2009. There was only an occasional presence on the campaign trail in 2016, when his brother, the former Florida governor , Jeb Bush, ran against then-candidate Donald Trump and others in the Republican presidential primary.

Still, he periodically offered thin veil features to Trump during Trump’s tenure.

In 2017, Bush delivered a speech in New York condemning white fanaticism and supremacy while passing policies contrary to those backed by Trump.

“Our identity as a nation, unlike other nations, is not determined by geography or ethnicity, soil or blood … This means that people of all races, religions and ethnicities can be full and equally American, ”he said during the statements. to the George W. Bush Institute in New York. “It means that bigotry and white supremacy, in any form, are blasphemies against the American creed.”

He added that “fanaticism seems encouraged,” though he did not explain why.