U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne says 'better safe than sorry' in canceling in-person events following U.S. Capitol attack
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne canceled in-person Iowa events to focus on the fallout from last week's U.S. Capitol attack — which includes votes to remove President Donald Trump from office — and said Tuesday it was also "better safe than sorry" given the heightened danger of political violence.
Last week, Axne scheduled two in-person events for Tuesday. On Monday, she reformatted a roundtable discussion on veterans' issues during the pandemic to be online-only and postponed a townhall focused on agriculture.
She said, following the virtual roundtable, that events from last week ended up loading her schedule with meeting and calls Democratic U.S. House colleagues. U.S. House leadership plans to hold a vote Tuesday evening to encourage Trump's Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office and Wednesday's planned vote to impeach Trump again.
But, Axne also noted increased threats of political violence could put herself and her staff at risk if they held a public event.
“The unfortunate thing is, as much as I trust Iowans, and I think we’re good people here, I think last week was a pretty good example that we just don’t know,” Axne said following a virtual round table on veteran’s issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Better safe than sorry, right?”
Axne was on her way to the Capitol last Wednesday when she was told to "literally hide" because of the mob of Trump supporters storming the building to stop certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory over Trump.
Five people died during the riot, including a Capitol police office who was beaten to death by the mob. Des Moines resident Doug Jensen was seen on viral videos chasing police through the Capitol halls. He was arrested early Saturday and charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, among other crimes.
While Axne didn’t name Jensen, she noted that some of the “perpetrators” of what happened in the Capitol are from her district. She did not expect the heightened alert, in which she thinks it’s best “to err on the side of caution,” to last forever.
“We have just a very short period of time where we may have to do that, and I think it's a wiser move to make,” Axne said. “Why put other folks in possible danger? I just don't know. That's really it. I didn't expect to see our constituents on the front page of every paper being arrested at the Capitol."
U.S. Sens. Joni Grassley and Chuck Grassley, both Iowa Republicans, held events in Iowa on Monday.
The day after the mob stormed the Capitol, Axne called on Trump’s cabinet to remove him from office via the 25th Amendment. The day after that, she said she would vote for a second time to impeach him. She said she received death threats after her first impeachment vote in December 2019.
"Once again, we're at a point in this country where no one wants to be,” Axne said Tuesday. “Literally no one wants to be here. I don't want to have another discussion about impeaching the president. We had Capitol officers killed by Americans.”
She paused briefly before repeating, “by Americans. They dragged them down the stairs and beat them.”
Trump incited the riot and should be held responsible, she said.
Ahead of the riot last week, Trump repeated falsehoods about the election being stolen and encouraged the crowd to walk to the Capitol and "show strength" while members of congress and U.S. senators performed their business. On Tuesday, he said his speech before the riot was "totally appropriate."
“I believe he is a danger to this country,” Axne said.
Nick Coltrain is a politics and data reporter for the Register. Reach him at email@example.com or at 515-284-8361.