Former President George W. Bush has said he is still ‘disturbed’ when he thinks about the Capitol riots on January 6.
‘I was sick to my stomach to see our nation’s Capitol being stormed by hostile forces,’ Bush recalled in an interview with The Texas Tribune as part of the South by Southwest (SXSW) virtual festival.
‘And it really disturbed me to the point where I did put out a statement and I’m still disturbed when I think about it.’ he said in the interview, which was recorded on February 24 and aired on Thursday.
The former president, 74, added that the insurrection ‘undermines the rule of law and the ability to express yourself in peaceful ways in the public square.’
‘This was an expression that was not peaceful,’ he added.
Former President George W. Bush has said he is still ‘disturbed’ when he thinks about the Capitol riot, which he said left him sick to his stomach
Bush said that the January 6 insurrection ‘undermines the rule of law and the ability to express yourself in peaceful ways in the public square’ [File photo]
The Justice Department has charged 65 people for assaulting law enforcement officers on January 6, when the Capitol was stormed by Donald Trump supporters attempting to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.
The DoJ is still attempting to identify others involved in assaults during the incident, it said in a press release on Thursday.
More than 300 people have been arrested on charges related to the riot, which left five people dead including a Capitol Police officer. More than 100 law enforcement officials were also injured in clashes with the rioters.
All four living former presidents – Bush, along with Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – condemned the riots, which took place while former president Trump was still in office, and shortly after he gave a speech outside the White House.
In a statement at the time, Bush compared the storming of the Capitol to ‘how election results are disputed in a banana republic.’
‘I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement,’ he said.
‘The violent assault on the Capitol – and disruption of a constitutionally mandated meeting of Congress – was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.’
The Justice Department has charged 65 people for assaulting law enforcement officers on January 6, when the Capitol was stormed by Trump supporters attempting to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election [File photo]
More than 300 people have been arrested on charges related to the riot, which left five people dead including a Capitol Police officer. More than 100 law enforcement officials were also injured in the attack [File photo]
In the new interview, Bush, who is promoting his book Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants, was asked whether he thought the election had been stolen as Trump had claimed.
‘No’, he responded.
He said that, while concerned about the anger some in the US feel towards their government, he was cheered by the high rates of voter turnout seen in the 2018 and 2020 elections, saying it showed the ‘vibrancy of democracy.’
‘That’s a telltale sign that people want to get engaged in the system and that they were willing to go vote.’
‘Look, politics has always been rough … And right now we’re at a period of time, though, when there’s a lot of anger in the system, which then causes people to worry about the future of our democracy,’ he said. ‘I think it’s going to eventually work its way out of the system.
‘History and the United States has shown these populist movements begin to fritter over time, and so I’m optimistic about democracy.’
During the interview, Bush also discussed the need for an overhaul of the US immigration system, an issue he has long campaigned for.
He said he deliberately postponed the release of his new book – which features portraits painted by the former president of 43 immigrants to the United States – to avoid highlighting immigration during the election season.
‘If I’d have been a more of a selfish guy, I would have tried to get the book out before Christmas of last year in order to enhance sales,’ Bush joked.
‘But I wanted to avoid the election season because one of the problems is immigration has become overly politicized, and it’s really a rebuke of Congress’ inability to come together to get something done on immigration.’
Among the people featured in Bush’s book, which includes written profiles of each person, are former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger and Bush family housekeeper Paula Rendón, whom Bush considered to be ‘a second mother.’