Gov. Tim Walz condemned Republican legislators for continuing to sow doubts about the November election results and said he wants to hear them say, "President Trump permitted sedition."
"How do we talk about reaching a compromise on the budget when we can't agree that our elections were fair?" Walz asked during an annual event Monday with legislative leaders, where he accused Republicans of "pretty epic gaslighting."
In one of the DFL governor's sternest public rebukes of his GOP colleagues to date, Walz described how the State Patrol removed his son from their home last week and took him to a safe location. The 14-year-old had to leave the governor's residence as Trump supporters threatened Walz during a rally at the State Capitol on the same day as the insurrection in Washington. He was crying as he tried to look for Scout, the family's dog, Walz said.
"I take real umbrage with the idea that what happened here at our Capitol on Wednesday was OK," Walz said.
Republicans in the House and Senate reiterated their opposition to the violence at the U.S. Capitol and decried the threats against Walz, which they said they just heard about Monday.
The governor and key lawmakers typically talk about how they plan to work together during a panel hosted by Forum Communications at the start of each legislative session. But this week the event was punctuated by lawmakers loudly talking over one another and the governor repeatedly threatening to leave the video call because he was "hugely disappointed" with Republicans.
The state leaders' clash over the election played out shortly before the FBI warned that there are plans for armed protests at every state capitol ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week. An FBI bulletin issued out of its Minneapolis division warned of possible violence from the Boogaloo Bois, a far-right extremist group, at Jan. 17 rallies in St. Paul and in Michigan, according to Yahoo News.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said violent language and destructive behavior are inexcusable, and he acknowledged Biden will be the next duly elected president. "The process worked and the transition of power worked," he said. However, he maintained Monday that some things about the election did not feel fair and said, "There's nothing wrong with asking questions and probing about why things happened the way they did."
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said he has been saying for weeks that Biden would be the next president. He said he believes there was election fraud in what he described as a few people "here and there" voting who shouldn't have, but said that wouldn't have been substantial enough to change the outcome of the election. He did not provide details to back up that claim, and judges across the country have consistently ruled there is not evidence of widespread election fraud.
Daudt said state leaders need to listen to why people feel the election wasn't fair and put measures in place to build their confidence in the system.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said they need to hold people accountable for hate speech as they gathered outside the Minnesota Capitol on the day of the Washington insurrection. They talked about casualties and made threats against Walz, Hortman said.
"To ask [Walz] to turn around and turn the other cheek and hug these people close and say, 'Why is it that you don't think that we had a free and fair and legal election?' is completely unrealistic," she said.
Hundreds of Trump supporters gathered Wednesday at the State Capitol for a local "Storm the Capitol" protest. A handful of them later marched to the governor's residence, which was guarded by the State Patrol.
Alley Waterbury, a Republican activist from Woodbury, spoke to the crowd with a microphone outside the Capitol that day and directed her comments at Walz, whose COVID-19 restrictions she opposes. "Please take time to meet with us one-on-one, because if you don't you're going to make us do things we don't want to do. We will come for you, but we want to talk to you first," she said.
Six Republican House members participated in the event at the Minnesota Capitol. Hortman said they will investigate what those members said and did, and noted that while they have the right to free speech, they cannot incite domestic terrorism.
Fifty-nine Republicans in the state House signed a document Monday afternoon saying people who destroyed property and assaulted police at the U.S. Capitol should be prosecuted and those who made threats at the St. Paul rally need to be held accountable.
Daudt and Gazelka repeatedly said that while they condemn the storming of the U.S. Capitol, they similarly oppose people who damaged buildings in the Twin Cities after George Floyd's death this summer and legislators who could have played a role in that. Gazelka also said that in 2016 influential Democrats claimed the election was stolen from Hillary Clinton.
Walz grew frustrated at Republicans comparing the situations.
"A president that this caucus, your caucus, fully supported asked for a rebellion against the United States, but we would rather debate separate issues," Walz said.