U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta during an interview with Lookout in April 2021.
Government

One year later, Jimmy Panetta wants people to know that Jan. 6 was no fluke

Rep. Jimmy Panetta warned Thursday that last January’s events in Washington, and the investigation that continues to play out, cannot be taken lightly. “We must continue our responsibility to shield and strengthen our democracy,” he said.

As the country grapples with where we stand one year after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, one person who was in that building a year ago believes there is a long way to go.

“A year later, we continue to face threats from a movement openly contemptuous of democracy that has proven its willingness to use violence to achieve its objectives,” Rep. Jimmy Panetta said in a statement. “As a self-governing society, we cannot survive such threats by denying that the movement exists.”

Panetta represents California’s 20th Congressional District, which includes much of Santa Cruz County and all of Monterey and San Benito counties.

He was not on the floor of the House of Representatives when the Capitol was stormed by a frenzied mob that day because the results of the presidential election were not being challenged or objected to in California.

The day of the attack, after Panetta had been evacuated from his office by Capitol police, he told Lookout by phone: “It’s exactly why I’m standing in my office, it’s exactly why we need to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives and certify this electoral process so we can remove this president in a proper and peaceful way on Jan. 20.

“I cannot stress that enough. We cannot let this slow us down.”

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A U.S. Navy Reserve veteran, Panetta told Lookout that day that only his tour in Afghanistan compared to the chaos he saw unfold around him in the nation’s capital.

Panetta warned Thursday that the threat to the country’s election system is very real.

“Even with that Congressional investigation and other ongoing federal prosecutions, the truth will not satisfy everyone, including certain state legislatures that are creating ways to overturn the will of the voters,” he said. “That is why we also must move forward with implementing federal protections of our elections that can withstand further attacks.”

We must move forward with implementing federal protections of our elections that can withstand further attacks

Here is Panetta’s statement in full:

“Although the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was the tip of the spear for the growing threat to our democratic institutions, we must continue our responsibility to shield and strengthen our democracy. The cathedral of all democracies was physically assaulted by a mob directed to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election. As the violence grew, the U.S. Capitol was breached, and members of Congress and the Vice President fled the floors of the House of Representatives and Senate, the ex-President sat and watched it take place, despite the pleas for him to take immediate action. Although the attack paused the democratic process, it did not diminish Congress’ determination to do our jobs that day. Thanks to the U.S. Capitol Police, members of the House of Representatives and Senate got right back on the House floor and voted to certify the election just hours after the attack.

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“A year later, we continue to face threats from a movement openly contemptuous of democracy that has proven its willingness to use violence to achieve its objectives. As a self-governing society, we cannot survive such threats by denying that the movement exists. That is why, with the leadership of the bipartisan U.S. Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack, we must continue to uncover the facts and hold those accountable who called for, conspired, and carried out the attack. Even with that Congressional investigation and other ongoing federal prosecutions, the truth will not satisfy everyone, including certain state legislatures that are creating ways to overturn the will of the voters. That is why we also must move forward with implementing federal protections of our elections that can withstand further attacks.

“We in the House worked to pass legislation, and it is past time for the Senate to act and pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Moreover, we must all continue to be engaged and involved in our democratic process. Not just today, not just on Election Day, but every day we must fulfill our obligation to our democracy by participating in our society with courage, civility, and a sense of humanity. That is how we best fulfill our form of self-government, strengthen our shield of democracy, and pursue our national unity.