State Sen. Doug Mastriano tells supporters to stand down
State Sen. Doug Mastriano told his supporters Wednesday to avoid protests and rallies ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.
Several Democrats in the state Legislature have accused Mastriano, R-Adams, of feeding right-wing anger with conspiracy theories claiming November's election was somehow rigged against President Donald Trump. He also organized a Jan. 6 bus trip to Washington, D.C., where a pro-Trump rally descended into a deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol.
"Please do not participate in rallies or protests over the next ten days," Mastriano wrote Wednesday morning on Twitter and Facebook. "Let's focus on praying for our nation during these troubling times."
The FBI has warned that violent right-wing protests at statehouses throughout the country could erupt, beginning this weekend, in the lead-up to Biden's inauguration. Hundreds of members of the National Guard are bivouacked within the halls of the U.S. Capitol.
Later Wednesday, Trump called on his supporters to remain peaceful in a video statement.
Mastriano has been at the forefront of Trump's failed effort to overturn Pennsylvania's results in the presidential election, which Biden won. Mastriano also appeared in images of the Jan. 6 rally posted on social media.
Mastriano admitted he was there but said he was not part of the mob that stormed Capitol Hill while Congress was certifying Biden's electoral victory.
Following the Nov. 3 election, Mastriano regularly used falsehoods to whip up Trump's Republican base at rallies, including one on Dec. 12 in Washington, during which he asked the crowd, "What are we going to do about it?"
Mastriano's rhetoric closely mirrored that of Trump. The president's false claims about a stolen election, followed by his orders to a large mob to march to the Capitol, are widely blamed for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The U.S. House of Representatives impeached Trump for a second time Wednesday after Democrats argued his rhetoric incited the insurrection. Ten Republicans also voted to impeach Trump, but the U.S. Senate isn't expected to take up the single article of impeachment until after Trump's term has expired.
In Harrisburg, a growing number of Democrats have accused Mastriano of inciting violence with falsehoods and propaganda. Mastriano, they said, should be censured for his part in the event.
State Senate GOP leaders have rejected those calls.