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Montana’s top political leaders have condemned the actions of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in protest of his reelection defeat.

U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines and Rep. Matt Rosendale denounced the violence in Washington, D.C.

All three, who were in the nation’s capital for the certification of the Electoral College results, also confirmed they were safe.

“The violent actions we are seeing today at our nation’s Capitol are an affront to our democracy and have no place in America,” tweeted Tester, a Democrat, who earlier on Wednesday urged his colleagues to accept the election outcome.

Protests in Washington, D.C., came as Congress convened to approve the Electoral College results, which confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election.

Some Republican lawmakers — including Daines and Rosendale — said this week they would object to the results from certain states.

They alleged widespread voter fraud and called for an emergency 10-day audit of election results even though state officials have certified their election results and courts have rejected efforts by Trump to overturn the results.

Then, on Wednesday evening, Daines sent out a news release reversing course, saying he would certify the electoral votes.

“Today is a sad day for our country. The destruction and violence we saw at our Capitol today is an assault on our democracy, our Constitution and the rule of law, and must not be tolerated,” Daines said.

“As Americans, we believe in the right to peaceful protest. We must rise above the violence. We must stand together. We will not let today’s violence deter Congress from certifying the election. We must restore confidence in our electoral process. We must, and we will, have a peaceful and orderly transition of power.”

A Daines spokesperson said in a separate statement that Daines’ goal was to “raise concerns for Americans who lack confidence in our elections, and to drive reforms to restore integrity, confidence and trust into our electoral process.”

After the violence, Daines felt “it was best for our nation to move forward with as much unity as possible, and affirm the results,” the spokesperson added.

However, Rosendale said he will continue to oppose certification of the results from certain states “to ensure our elections are free and secure and every legal vote is counted and every fraudulent vote is rejected.”

Claims of voter fraud in the November election have been widely debunked.

Rosendale also said he has “always condemned and will continue to condemn political violence in all forms” but went on to add that he “will not be intimidated by mob violence from the left or the right.”

In December, Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican who served as Montana’s lone U.S. representative until Monday, joined more than 100 federal lawmakers in an amicus brief requesting the U.S. Supreme Court prevent four states from casting their Electoral College votes, but he hasn’t publicly spoken about this week’s certification of the results.

On Wednesday, Gianforte tweeted, “Violence has no place in our civil society.”

The Montana Democratic and Republican parties as well as both parties’ leaders in the state Legislature denounced the violence.

Senate President Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell, and House Speaker Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale, said in a joint statement that the peaceful protests in Helena this week are examples of how to express political views.

Senate Minority Leader Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena, called on Republican leadership to “immediately put an end to the baseless claims and dangerous rhetoric that got us here today.”

House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, D-Helena, said she and her Democratic colleagues were watching the events in Washington, D.C., ”with heavy hearts, and a deep concern for both the safety of all those in our nation’s capital, and our country’s collective faith in the Democratic process.”

Trump supporters gathered peacefully outside the state Capitol on Wednesday for a “Stop the Steal” protest, according to the Helena Independent Record.

In other cities, including Billings and Missoula, Trump supporters held similar rallies.

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Perrin Stein can be reached at pstein@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2648.

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