Mastriano defends protest appearance; other GOP lawmakers say little

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
A Facebook post showing state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Adams, and former GOP state lawmaker Rick Saccone at Wednesday's pro-Trump rally in Washington.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano admitted Thursday that he was at the rally that descended into the storming of the U.S. Capitol but said he himself did not join the mob that laid siege to Congress. 

Meanwhile, a slew of other Republican state lawmakers representing parts of York County, many of whom supported President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the election in Pennsylvania, did not respond Thursday to repeated requests for comment.

Mastriano, R-Adams, said he and his wife were in Washington on Wednesday to support President Donald Trump but claims they left when they realized the protest was turning violent. 

"At no point did we enter the Capitol building, walk on the Capitol steps or go beyond police lines," Mastriano said in the statement.

A group of pro-Trump rally participants broke into the Capitol on Wednesday while Congress was debating an objection to certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election. The invasion caused Congress to evacuate during their session  and led to four deaths and dozens of arrests, according to The Associated Press. 

Mastriano's statement followed pictures posted on Facebook showing Mastriano and former GOP state lawmaker Rick Saccone attending the Trump rally.

In a since-deleted post, Saccone said he was "storming" the Capitol.

"We are storming the capitol. Our vanguard has broken thru the barricades. We will save this nation," Saccone wrote. "Are u with me?"

In a later post, Saccone then referred to "peaceful" protests. Those posts were still visible on Saccone's Facebook page Thursday morning. 

More:Top Pa. Senate Republican on Capitol mob: ‘What is going on in DC should never happen’

A Facebook post showing state former GOP state lawmaker Rick Saccone at Wednesday's pro-Trump rally in Washington.

Later Thursday, state Sen. Tim Kearney, D-Chester, called for Mastriano's resignation. 

In his statement, Mastriano condemned the violence that occurred and said those who broke the law should be prosecuted. In recent months Mastriano has put pressure on the Legislature to overturn Trump's loss in Pennsylvania. He said in the statement that his support of Trump on Wednesday "should not be a surprise" to people familiar with his views on the election.

Mastriano has been among the most stalwart supporters of Trump's bid to overturn his loss to President-elect Joe Biden in Pennsylvania. Following the Nov. 3 election, Mastriano spearheaded a hearing, which included Trump's personal attorneys, where conspiracy theories were front and center.

He also traveled to the White House, where Trump lobbied state lawmakers to override voters and declare Trump victorious in Pennsylvania. 

Calls to Mastriano seeking additional comment Thursday were not returned. 

More:Mastriano says Legislature should overturn Trump loss

More:Source: Mastriano receives positive COVID-19 test at Trump meeting

Several other local state GOP lawmakers who have been vocally supportive of Trump's fight to overturn the election released a group statement Wednesday denouncing the violence at the Capitol but have otherwise remained silent. 

State Rep. Rep. Dawn Keefer, R-Franklin Township, and other GOP state lawmakers called for the formation of an investigatory committee Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, of voting in Pennsylvania,  following a slew of lawsuits filed by President Donald Trump's campaign claiming, without evidence, widespread fraud. Photo by Lindsey O'Laughlin

Nine Republican legislators released the statement Wednesday, including Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, of York Township; Rep. Seth Grove, of Dover Township; Rep. Mike Jones, of York Township; and Rep. Dawn Keefer, of Franklin Township.

None of them responded to multiple calls seeking additional comment. 

"The storming of the U.S. Capitol by protesters has absolutely turned our stomachs and just as we condemned the multiple violent protests over the summer, these actions cannot be tolerated," the statement read. 

On Monday, Phillips-Hill signed a letter calling on Congress to refuse to certify Biden's electors. Grove and Keefer have both publicly echoed Trump's conspiracy theories about the Nov. 3 election in Pennsylvania. 

Keefer and Grove have questioned Biden's victory in Pennsylvania since the general election, even after the U.S. Supreme Court tossed a challenge to the results. 

— Reporter Logan Hullinger contributed to this story.