U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe has been in Congress 34 years and in politics more than 50. As mayor of Tulsa, he once had garbage dumped on his lawn by angry residents.
But it’s unlikely anything matched what he experienced Wednesday when the U.S. Capitol was stormed by people apparently intent on keeping President Donald Trump in office.
“I’d say there were at least 1,000 people in the building,” Inhofe said by telephone Wednesday evening.
Inhofe hedged on who he thought might be to blame for what happened, but he allowed that Trump did not do enough to stop it.
“He’s only put out one statement that I’m aware of,” Inhofe said. “This was really a riot. He should have shown more disdain for the rioters. I don’t want to say he should have apologized — that’s not exactly accurate — but he should have expressed more disdain.”
Instead, Trump directed his disdain toward Vice President Mike Pence, who refused to do what Trump wanted him to do — illegally refuse to accept the final election results in his role as Senate president.
By doing so, he may have alienated one of his most steadfast allies.
“I’ve known Mike Pence forever,” Inhofe said Tuesday night. “I’ve never seen Pence as angry as he was today.
“I had a long conversation with him,” said Inhofe. “He said, ‘After all the things I’ve done for (Trump).’”
Aside from Wednesday’s attempted takeover of the Capitol, the past few days have been difficult for Inhofe because he refused to go along with protesting the Electoral College results.
“We’ve had calls. We’ve had threats. … I have many very, very close friends mad at me, when all I’m doing is upholding my oath,” Inhofe said.
He and many other conservatives say the law and the Constitution do not give Congress the authority to challenge electoral votes certified by the various states and the District of Columbia.
He also doesn’t think it’s something Republicans should be doing.
“Republicans have always been for states’ rights,” Inhofe said. “Democrats are the ones who always tried to nationalize elections.”
Inhofe said he never felt in danger Wednesday, but he said he was irritated to see someone rifling through his desk while he watched on television.
“They broke in on the House side and were coming toward (the Senate)” when senators were led outside to a nearby office building — although Inhofe broke away to go to his own office.
“My daughter is in town,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave her alone.”