Sen. Roy Blunt, who previously questioned the results of the presidential election
, said in a speech today that the inauguration of President Joe Biden was a "moment of unification" for the country.
Blunt was a featured speaker, basically the emcee, of the ceremony as the chair of the congressional committee that oversees the inauguration. In his introduction, he struck a conciliatory tone, noting that one party is always happier than the other on this day.
"But this is not a moment of division," Blunt said. "It's a moment of unification. A new administration begins and brings with it a new beginning. And with that our great national debate goes forward, and a determined democracy will continue to be essential in pursuit of a more perfect union and better future for all Americans. What a privilege for me to join you today."
Blunt spoke on the west side of the U.S. Capitol, where on January 6 extremists energized by ex-President Donald Trump's speech about a stolen election overran barricades and stormed inside in what became a deadly siege.
Members of Congress, including Blunt, were forced to take shelter as the rioters ransacked the building in search of Trump's enemies. The now-former president had been saying for months that the election had been stolen, and the intruders who raged through the Capitol that day hoped to keep Congress from certifying the results of the electoral votes.
In November, Blunt had at first said it seemed as though any challenge to the results would fail before backtracking, claiming against all evidence that it was unclear whether Trump had lost.
"The president wasn't defeated by huge numbers," Blunt told reporters on November 10.
"In fact, he may not have been defeated at all."
But Trump had been defeated, and when the January 6 vote drew near, Blunt signaled that he would not object. That was in contrast to the position staked out by Josh Hawley.
Missouri's junior senator, who also attended the inauguration, was the first in the senate to announce he would object. He has since faced the fallout of the riots, losing donors and support as a result of his role in advancing the fantasy of conspiracy-addled Trump loyalists.
Blunt referenced the Capitol attacks briefly in his remarks.
"The assault at our Capitol, at this very place just two weeks ago," Blunt said, "reminds us that a government designed to balance and check itself is both fragile and resilient."
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