U.S. Sen. Angus King told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that Republican objections to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory were “profoundly unpatriotic” and helped foment the Capitol insurrection by supporters of President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
The prime-time interview with King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, had been in the works since December but aired on Sunday, four days after Congress was besieged by a group of the outgoing president’s backers as it gathered to affirm Biden’s November win. Five people died in the attack, which delayed the certification of the results until the early morning.
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Earlier in the day, the president gave a speech to supporters in which he repeated false claims that the election was “stolen” and said he and his backers would “never concede.” Maine’s delegation said Trump was responsible for the riot and King has said Trump’s Cabinet should consider removing him, but he has stopped short of backing Democratic impeachment efforts.
The “60 Minutes” segment, which was filmed in King’s hometown of Brunswick in December and the day after the insurrection last week, focused mostly on the Maine senator’s political brand as a rare independent and former two-term governor.
King singled out U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, two of the Republican leaders of the effort to object to the results of the election on the floor last week. He said the two Ivy League-educated lawyers are “probably in the top 10 percent of IQ” in the body and knew their challenges were “inimical to the interests of this country.”
“It was a profoundly unpatriotic act in my mind,” he said.
When correspondent Jon Wertheim asked King if he had told Cruz and Hawley that, he said he had and it was an “uncomfortable” conversation. He considers Cruz a friend and has said members from the arch-conservative Texas senator to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, have been guests at bipartisan dinners at his home in Washington, D.C.