Sen. Mastriano and former state rep. Saccone among Trump supporters who occupied U.S. Capitol | Pittsburgh City Paper

Sen. Mastriano and former state rep. Saccone among Trump supporters who occupied U.S. Capitol

Saccone posted to social media, "We are storming the capitol," while Mastriano was a scheduled speaker for the rally, but said he left the area when it was "no longer a peaceful protest."

click to enlarge Sen. Mastriano and former state rep. Saccone among Trump supporters who occupied U.S. Capitol
Screenshot taken from Facebook
State Sen. Doug Mastriano (left) and Rick Saccone (right)
In March 2018, former state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) lost a special election to Conor Lamb (D-Mt. Lebanon) in a district that President Donald Trump won in 2016 by about 20 points. It was one of the biggest upsets in the Trump-era, and some Republicans blamed Saccone for a weak campaign that allowed an insurgent Lamb to secure a narrow victory.

Since then, Saccone’s political career has tumbled and basically fallen apart. He ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary election later in 2018 for another congressional seat, then started a blog called “Veritas 007” that trafficked in conspiracy theories. He regularly attempted, unsuccessfully, to get Trump’s attention on social media by tagging Trump, seemingly to have the president share his messages.

On Wed., Jan. 6, Saccone posted a video on Facebook from Washington, D.C., encouraging the crowd to storm the Capitol to “run out all the evil people” and RINOs (Republicans in name only) who don’t wholeheartedly support Trump’s lies about the election being stolen.
Hundreds of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol on Wednesday, and occupied the senate chamber, hit local police, and broke windows. Reports indicate that a firearm went off in the Capitol, a person was hit, and that at least one improvised explosive device was found on the Capitol grounds. Some were waving Confederate battle flags and Trump campaign flags.

"I see some people are twisting the peaceful protest into something else," Saccone posted on Facebook on Wednesday evening around 6:30 p.m. "Everyone from our group was involved in peaceful, first amendment assembly. It was part of the metaphor to storm the castle so to speak."

Saccone posted that he doesn't condone any violence, "unlike those on the left," and that he didn't personally witness any violence.
After this story was initially published, KDKA reported that Saccone resigned from his adjunct professor position at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, following the school's investigation into Saccone's Facebook video.

In contrast to Saccone, and also at the occupation, was state Sen. Mastriano (R-Adams), who is largely rumored to have ambitions for higher office in Pennsylvania. Mastriano is one of the state Senate's most conservative legislators, and often traffics in right-wing conspiracy theories. Even so, he has a large and dedicated following on social media.

According to posts on social media, Mastriano can be seen posing for a photo with Saccone, and Mastriano is wearing one of his campaign hats. Hours after the Capitol grounds had largely been cleared, Mastriano issued a statement on social media saying "the violence on Capitol Hill today is unacceptable, unamerican and should be condemned by every citizen. This is not the American way."

Later in the day on Jan. 6, Mastriano posted an official statement saying that while he and his wife were in D.C. to attend the rally, but that they both left the area when "it was apparent that this was no longer a peaceful protest." He added that "those who violated those laws must be prosecuted.”

 “As a military veteran and retired colonel, I do not – nor would I ever – condone the violence we saw today. I join with all patriotic Americans in condemning what occurred in the Capitol," said Mastriano in a statement. “My position on lawlessness is equally as clear. When it was apparent that this was no longer a peaceful protest, my wife and I left the area and made our way out of the area. At no point did we enter the Capitol building, walk on the Capitol steps or go beyond police lines."

Earlier that day, Mastriano posted to his personal Facebook page several posts in support of the protest using the hashtag #StopTheSteal. He noted in his official statement that he still had concerns about "election integrity" over Trump's election. According to far-right news outlet The Western Journal, Mastriano was a scheduled speaker for the rally. He also was advertising an event to ride a bus with him and friends to the D.C. protest, which later turned into an occupation of the Capitol grounds and building.

State Sen. Lindsey Williams (D-West View) tweeted the screenshot and asked if Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre) was OK with Mastriano’s inclusion at the occupation. She says she is demanding that Republicans senators like Corman hold their own members accountable for their actions.

"I want to be clear  I hold the entire Senate Republican Caucus responsible for the illegal and unconstitutional actions that took place yesterday in Harrisburg and today in D.C.," says Williams.

In a tweet, Corman didn't address Mastriano's inclusion, but wrote "It cannot be said often enough  we are a nation of laws. This is not our America. Violence is not the American way. When our rules and laws are not followed, chaos takes over. What is going on in DC should never happen."

She criticized Mastriano’s inclusion, but was not surprised since “Republicans have been playing a dangerous game at the state level and the federal level” in reference to the multiple failed lawsuits challenging state and national election results in Pennsylvania.

“It is not a surprise that this has led to the subversion of the will of the voters and violence,” says Williams. “What happened in Harrisburg yesterday was a violation of the Pennsylvania State Constitution by individuals sworn to uphold it. What is happening in Washington, D.C. today is an attempted coup by domestic terrorists. A straight line can be drawn between the two events.”

This story was updated at 1:35 p.m. on Jan. 7 to provide updated information on Saccone's resignation from his adjunct professor job at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.

This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 11 to provide a full statement and more context from Sen. Mastriano.

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