U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber declined an interview request Tuesday to react to testimony in Washington, D.C., from police officers assaulted during the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt on the U.S. Capitol.
A select committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, the governmental body to which Stauber belongs, began investigating the events surrounding the Capitol insurrection this week, hearing chilling testimony from law enforcement officers who confronted the attack.
Stauber's office told the News Tribune: "Unfortunately, we will not be able to accommodate this request." When asked why in a subsequent email, the congressman's office did not respond further.
An estimated 140 officers were injured in the Capitol riot, as election protestors stormed the U.S. Capitol on the day Congress was set to ratify the 2020 federal election.
"The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone said in some of the day's resonant testimony. “Nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day."
Stauber is a retired Duluth police officer who has placed a lot of his political credibility on that fact. He's often expressed opinions and given reactions on policing matters. In the wake of the George Floyd killing by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020, Stauber authored legislation to reform policing across the country. His legislation has not been taken up in the House. Lately, he's been railing against Democrats on public safety, blaming the opposition party for a rise in violent crime in major cities.
Stauber has previously said select rioters should be prosecuted.
“I want everybody that assaulted any police officer, or did any damage, or tried to interrupt the electoral count, I want each and every one of them accountable and held to the highest standard of the law and no charges dropped,” Stauber said in January. “No (state) attorney general should drop those charges at all.”
(1/2) Across the nation, cities are seeing a dramatic uptick in violent crime. This is no coincidence.— Pete Stauber (@RepPeteStauber) July 26, 2021
Thanks to Democrats' radical Defund the Police Movement, many police departments have been left w/ fewer resources and demoralized officers -- many of whom are retiring early. pic.twitter.com/ShUFGlw8UU
Until now, Stauber has been accommodating to the News Tribune's interview requests throughout his two terms in Congress. But it's not the first time Stauber has refused to speak to the press.
During the leadup to his election in 2018, Stauber declined to publicly address email correspondence he had with the National Republican Congressional Committee using his St. Louis County email account. It's off-limits for a public official to use a public account to conduct campaign business, but Stauber dodged questions about the matter for two months until a judge's order released the rather benign contents of the emails.
Stauber called the storming of the Capitol "unacceptable," when it happened and added that he was disappointed in President Donald Trump at the time for failing to control his supporters, who rallied with the president outside the Capitol prior to the riot.
"I think President Trump had the opportunity to tell the people, specifically, 'You must remain peaceful,' because that's who we are and it spiraled out of control," Stauber said at the time. "I for one am extremely disappointed in what President Trump said, and also extremely disappointed in the behavior of many people today."
Stauber did not vote to impeach the president in the wake of the riot, and in May joined all Republicans in declining to support a $1.9 billion emergency spending measure to boost security for the U.S. Capitol complex and other government agencies that responded to the Jan. 6 attack on the building.
In December, Stauber supported a Texas lawsuit attempting to prevent votes from being counted in swing states won by President Joe Biden.
The News Tribune has previously asked Stauber if he felt any responsibility for the death of a police officer related to the rioting, because Stauber, too, had challenged the validity of Biden’s election victory over Trump.
“I’m really appalled you would ask that question,” Stauber said in January. “Putting me as a member of Congress responsible for an officer’s death, that’s unconscionable even to ask me that.”
The Washington Post reported in April that Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after he confronted rioters at the Jan. 6 insurrection. But the medical examiner noted “all that transpired (Jan. 6) played a role in his condition.”
This story was updated at 11:30 a.m. July 29 to clarify the cause of death of the Capitol Police officer, and earlier at 12:05 p.m. July 28 to correct the year Stauber was first elected to represent the 8th Congressional District. It was originally posted at 9:16 a.m. July 28. The News Tribune regrets the errors.