Mississippi congressman and his predecessor share experience from inside U.S. Capitol riot

Capitol Hill security members work to protect the Senate chamber from rioters Wednesday.
Capitol Hill security members work to protect the Senate chamber from rioters Wednesday.
Published: Jan. 9, 2021 at 12:06 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Congressman Michael Guest was on the House floor when the announcement was made about the Capitol breach.

“You could hear the crowd continuing to come down,” explained Guest. “As I saw the back window of the House chamber being broken out by people trying to gain access to the chamber, I decided at that time it was best for me to leave. Returned with the other members to the Longworth Ways and Means Committee Room. We were sheltering at that point. And at that point, I met up with former Congressman Gregg Harper.”

Harper had been observing the proceedings from the gallery.

“I left my Wednesday afternoon open,” said Harper who was in Washington for business. “Four years ago I was one of the tally clerks in the House of Representatives.”

Harper, though, was still in the gallery when the guns were drawn as the rioters continued to try to get in.

“You heard glass breaking as they were doing that and then those in the gallery, they also escorted,” Harper said. “Get everybody down to the tunnel. Really had no idea what was going on... you can see some live footage and it’s still hard to believe.”

We asked both Guest and Harper if they think the President bears any responsibility in this.

“It would be hard to say that people were there on their own had he not done the speech and done that,” noted Harper. “But I understand. Look, you should fight for what you believe him. I mean, I would’ve preferred that he had said go.. if you’re going to go to the Capitol, stand outside. Don’t do anything inappropriate. That’s not who you are.”

Harper noted President Trump’s accomplishments of the last four years. He said he didn’t think people should lose sight of those accomplishments. So, he said he hates that the term is ending in this way.

“I believe that there was a great deal of irresponsibility on the President as to the events that occurred on that day,” said Guest. “I think some of the comments that he made may have been taken by some and inflamed the anger that already existed.”

Guest said there was anger over the fact that many felt like the election was stolen, anger over the election in Georgia where both Republicans were defeated and anger over what he called a false message put out that Congress was going to be able to overturn the election.

He said he thinks it was understood that there weren’t a sufficient number of members willing to cast votes to overturn the results.

Most recently, the national conversation has turned to whether the President should be impeached or the 25th Amendment invoked. Guest does not believe that is the right move.

“If we’re going to heal, we cannot continue to have these types of discussions that are going to further pull Americans apart,” added Guest.

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