WASHINGTON — Members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet issued harsh rebukes of the mayhem at the U.S. Capitol, which forced Congress to halt the process to declare Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election.
The officials, however, stopped short of criticizing the president, who had urged his supporters to take action.
Trump, during a rally earlier outside the White House, had encouraged thousands of supporters to march to the Capitol to protest what historically have been ceremonial proceedings. Trump returned to the White House after his speech and later told supporters in a tweeted video "you have to go home now" but he didn't condemn the violence.
"This was a fraudulent election," Trump said, telling protesters "We love you. You are very special."
In a series of tweets Wednesday evening, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the storming of the U.S. Capitol "unacceptable."
"Lawlessness and rioting — here or around the world — is always unacceptable," the nation's top diplomat wrote.
"Let us swiftly bring justice to the criminals who engaged in this rioting," Pompeo wrote. "America is better than what we saw today."
Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said: "The violence to our Nation's Capitol Building is an intolerable attack on a fundamental institution of our democracy."
Earlier Wednesday, the Department of Justice sent hundreds of federal law enforcement officers and agents from the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service to help quell protests.
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia called the riots "a low point in the history of American democracy."
Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf also condemned the violence, saying "no one has the right to attack ANY federal institution regardless of motivation."
He added that those who engaged in the rioting should be held accountable.
Secretary Ben Carson of Housing and Urban Development said: "End this violence now. Violence is never an appropriate response regardless of legitimate concerns. Please remember: if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand," Carson wrote.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote that he was "disgusted" by the riot.
"Physical violence and the desecration of this hallowed symbol of our democracy must end," Azar added.
"Most importantly, I want all of you to stay safe. Please take care of yourselves and loved ones," Azar wrote in a subsequent tweet.
In a tweet Wednesday evening, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote "Violence is always unacceptable. We must respect our constitution and democratic process."
Similarly, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross wrote on Twitter that "violence is never the proper solution."
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said "we must set a better example" for America's children and students.