‘It was a sad day for our country’: Former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus condemns violence at US Capitol

San Antonio Republican says President Donald Trump ‘is trying to dismantle our democracy’

Former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus critized President Donald Trump "and his enablers" and previews the Texas Legislature.

SAN ANTONIO – Former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican, condemned the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in an interview with KSAT 12, saying that what transpired in Washington was “reprehensible and was a sad day for our country.”

“I think it terribly damages and diminishes the reputation of the United States around the world,” Straus said in an interview Wednesday with anchors Steve Spriester and Myra Arthur. “I think the president and his enablers over time, these last couple of months in particular, by trying to promote this baseless claim of a stolen election, had led to a very unfortunate point in our country and the faith that Americans need to have for our institutions.”

Straus, who served as House speaker for 10 years before retiring in 2018, criticized President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his election defeat to President-elect Joe Biden.

The former lawmaker who represented District 121, which covers Alamo Heights, said he couldn’t believe what happened at the U.S. Capitol, though he said he heard from a lot of people who didn’t think the incident “wasn’t completely unpredictable, sadly.”

Straus has been more outspoken than Republican statewide leaders, though he sharpened his criticism in the recent days. On Jan. 3, Straus said on Twitter that “Donald Trump is trying to dismantle our democracy by seeking to invalidate an election he lost. Anyone who supports this effort is demonstrating a disregard for the U.S. Constitution, the will of the American people, the sanctity of the electoral process and the rule of law.”

During his live interview Wednesday, Straus said he hopes those who enable Trump will learn from this “ill-fated gambit” and move forward to govern responsibly and make the Republican party “a respectable party.”

Straus added that the only way the division in this country is going to end is for leaders from both political parties to reach out to the other side of the aisle.

“All political leaders have a role to play, an obligation, a responsibility, to try and bring people together,” he said.

Straus said GOP leaders “have nothing to lose, by the way.”

“Under the four years under Donald Trump, the Republican Party has now lost the White House, they’ve lost the majority of the United States Senate and they lost the majority in the United States House of Representatives. So, I hope in some ways it’s a new beginning for party leaders to take seriously their responsibilities as one of the two great parties in the United States.”

When asked what should be the priorities for the next session of the Texas Legislature, which convenes next week, Straus said getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control. He wants as many people as possible to get vaccinated and to provide help for people affected mentally by the pandemic.

Straus also said lawmakers need to find ways to help people who have lost jobs and small businesses and he also wants the Legislature to continue supporting public education and seek ways to provide property tax relief.

As for whether Straus will run for office in the future...

“I’m not done with politics. I’m engaged today through my political action committee (PAC) Texas Forever Forward… whether I’ll be a candidate for office or serve in some capacity in public office, I don’t know, I don’t have a plan at the moment. But the November election is only a couple of months old and it’s been a little bumpy since then. Let’s let the dust settle here, see what the landscape looks like,” he said. “I’ll be participating in some way or other moving forward.”

Read more about the violence at the Capitol:

Texas lawmakers in Washington D.C. react on social media to chaos unfolding at the U.S. Capitol

Photos show evolution of Trump rally from protest to violence, chaos outside US Capitol

About the Authors:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Steve Spriester started at KSAT in 1995 as a general assignments reporter. Now, he anchors the station's top-rated 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.