Rep. Mo Brooks denied expressing sympathy for domestic terrorism Friday after the Alabama Republican took heat from both sides of the aisle over his reaction to Thursday’s bomb scare at the U.S. Capitol.
As the hourslong standoff with a man threatening to blow up blocks of Capitol Hill came to a safe conclusion, Mr. Brooks issued a statement on social media that seemed to relate with the suspect.
“Sadly, threats of violence targeting America’s political institutions are far too common,” Mr. Brooks said in a statement he shared on social media within minutes of the suspect’s reported arrest.
“Although this terrorist’s motivation is not yet publicly known, and generally speaking, I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of American society,” Mr. Brooks said in the statement, stressing that he believes the “way to stop Socialism’s march is for patriotic Americans to fight back in the 2022 and 2024 elections.”
The suspect, identified as Floyd Ray Roseberry, 49, of Grover, North Carolina, had ranted against Democrats including President Biden while broadcasting some of the roughly five-hour standoff live online.
Mr. Brooks, who is running to succeed outgoing Sen. Richard Shelby, a fellow Alabama Republican, said he was not sympathizing with Mr. Roseberry when he published his statement.
“If I were to say, ‘I love America. We are the greatest nation in world history,’ Socialists, the fake news media and RINO Republicans would have a hissy-fit and falsely claim I inspire violence. Bunk,” Mr. Brooks told The Washington Times Friday.
“I encourage all Americans who want to know the truth to bypass propagandists and read my tweet in its entirety,” Mr. Brooks added. “Only the illiterate, hyper-partisans or those with a brain the size of a pea would claim I called for or sympathized with violence when my words quite clearly urge those who are angry to channel their anger into making a difference at the ballot box in the 2022 and 2024 elections.”
Several members of Congress, Democratic and Republican alike, had voiced serious concerns about Mr. Brooks while responding to his Thursday statement.
“It is astonishing that this needs to be said but no one who serves in Congress should be expressing public sympathy with the views of a terrorist who threatened to blow up the U.S. Capitol,” said Rep. Don Beyer, Virginia Democrat, on Twitter. “I would have thought we could all at least agree on that.”
“I know it seems like hyperbole when we say that Republicans have become enemies of democracy, but here is a mainstream Republican TAKING THE SIDE OF THE BOMBER,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of few elected Republicans frequently critical of former President Donald Trump, shared the statement from Mr. Brooks on Twitter with a one-word reaction: “Evil.”
“The GOP has a decision to make,” Mr. Kinzinger said in another Twitter posting later. “Are we going to be the party that keeps stoking sympathy for domestic terrorists and pushes out truth, or finally take a stand for truth. I’ve made my decision, so has Mo. Now it’s up to GOP conference leadership to make theirs.”
The co-chairs of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee issued a statement urging House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, to speak out against Mr. Brooks.
“As Capitol Police, FBI and other law enforcement risk their own lives to stop a threat to our nation’s capital, Congressman Mo Brooks fanned the flames,” said Reps. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, Debbie Dingell of Michigan, Ted Lieu of California and Joe Neguse of Colorado. “We call on Leader McCarthy to denounce Mr. Brooks‘ expression of sympathy for domestic terrorism immediately.”
A spokesperson for Mr. McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment.
The standoff between police and Mr. Roseberry occurred after he parked his pickup truck Thursday morning outside the Library of Congress and said it was rigged to explode.
Broadcasting on Facebook, Mr. Roseberry said he was participating in a “revolution” and threatened to blow up 2.5 blocks of Capitol Hill.
“America needs a voice, I’ll give to them,” he said at one point.