Former President George W. Bush said the January 6 Capitol riot made him “sick to my stomach” and that he continues to be “disturbed” by it.
“I can’t remember what I was doing, but … I was sick to my stomach … to see our nation’s Capitol being stormed by hostile forces,” Bush said in an interview with The Texas Tribune that was recorded February 24 and published Thursday. “And it really disturbed me to the point where I did put out a statement, and I’m still disturbed when I think about it.”
Bush said the siege “undermines rule of law and the ability to express yourself in peaceful ways in the public square.”
“This was an expression that was not peaceful,” he added.
Authorities have arrested more than 300 people in connection with the Capitol riot, which left five people dead, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, and injured more than 100 law enforcement officials.
After a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol in January, Bush released a statement saying, “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic.”
“I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement,” he said then. “The violent assault on the Capitol — and disruption of a constitutionally mandated meeting of Congress — was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”
Bush also told the newspaper that he did not believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
“I think the election, all elections have some kind of improprieties,” he said. “I think … the results of this election, though, were confirmed when Joe Biden got inaugurated as president.”
Asked directly whether the election was stolen, the former president said just, “No.”
He offered the same response when asked if the Trump administration put democracy at risk in the wake of the 2020 election.
“What’s putting democracy at risk is the capacity to get on the internet to spread … all kinds of stuff,” he said. “But checks and balances work. It’s a, you know, a balanced system. The courts work. The legislative process needs a little work, particularly on immigration reform … No, I thought the system worked fine.”
Bush also noted that while “we’re at a period of time … when there’s a lot of anger in the system, which then causes people to worry about the future of our democracy,” that he believes it’s “going to eventually work its way out of the system.”
“History and the United States has shown these populist movements begin to fritter over time, and so I’m optimistic about democracy,” he said.