Representative Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) expressed outrage at the incarceration of people convicted of crimes related to the U.S. Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, in debate on Thursday night with his Democratic opponent, Dan Pastore.
Asked by the WICU Erie News Now debate committee what it thinks about the decision of the House Select Committee to investigate the protest and call on the committee to send a letter referring to President Donald Trump, Kelly said he was a participant in the hunt and expressed his anger as well. police responded to the attack.
“It has to happen? Absolutely not,” Kelly said of the protest at the Capitol. “The relentless pursuit of this president, regardless of the documented evidence, should shock everyone in this country.”
“I fully understand and agree: January 6 should not have happened,” Kelly added. “But when you look at some people who are still locked up with no way out, you ask yourself: Is this really America? Is this really America?”
Kelly noted correctly in the debate that there are only two Republicans on the House Committee on January 6 – Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) — and both are longtime Trump critics. However, he did not say that the commission exists in its current form because House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) rejects the idea of independence and bipartisan commission.
“Most of the witnesses in those hearings were actually Capitol police or Republicans,” replied Pastore, a businessman and lawyer. “What does he think? Are we just brushing it under the rug?”
“It’s important that we get to the bottom of it, and that’s what we’re trying to do in the January 6 hearing,” Pastore added.
At another point in the debate, Kelly explained his distrust of government.
He said: “Where we are now, now as a country, is the most dangerous thing we have been through, where we have been through the same government whose justice has been failed,” he said. “The FBI is now viewed as dangerous by most people.”
Kelly is one of those 147 House Republicans who voted against recognizing the 2020 presidential election the day after the Capitol protest. He was previously sued to deny Pennsylvania’s 2.5 million ballots because the GOP-controlled state legislature had passed. no-excuse absentee vote violates Pennsylvania law. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which has a Democratic majority, dismiss the lawsuit in November 2020.
Pastore pressed Kelly later to explain whether he still believes the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” by Trump.
Kelly refused to give a direct answer, citing his continuing doubts about the integrity of his administration.
“My enemy can say all he wants, ‘He won’t accept,’ ‘He won’t accept,’ ‘He won’t accept,'” he said. “What I will not accept is the destruction of America and the trust we should have in our government and in our elections.”
Pastore issued additional condemnation of Kelly in a statement Friday provided to HuffPost, calling Kelly “an embarrassment to Western Pennsylvania.”
“His advice shows he is unfit for public service,” Pastore said. “I’m running for Congress to uphold the law of the land and uphold the rule of law. Mike Kelly stands with criminals and against the men and women of law enforcement who do it we are safe.”
“Mike Kelly thinks it’s unfair that the criminals who attacked the police and tried to overthrow our government are serving time in prison, and that’s outrageous,” he added. . “Kelly’s attack on federal police shows he has no respect for the law and those who protect us.”
Kelly, a six-term incumbent, is a heavy favorite to win re-election in Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District, which includes the northwest corner of the Keystone State. In 2020, Trump beat President Joe Biden among the cities voters came from more than 20 percentage points.
Pastore’s struggle to raise more money has prevented him from appearing on television so far in the campaign.