Gary Locke, former U.S. ambassador to China, told CNBC on Thursday that the “deplorable” Capitol Hill riot has likely damaged American standing around the globe.
“China is laughing at us and saying we’re not the model of democracy and of civility and of stability that we have always been lecturing the rest of the world to embrace,” Locke said on “The Exchange.” He was ambassador to China from 2011 to 2014 under former President Barack Obama and, before that, led the Department of Commerce. He was the first Chinese American to hold that Cabinet post.
“For so long, we have always been preaching to other countries to uphold the rule of law, to allow governments to transfer power after an election, to make sure the military doesn’t step in and overthrow governments because they didn’t like the election,” said Locke, who also is a former Democratic governor of Washington.
“Now, we have all these other countries around the world … expressing concern about what has happened in America, urging Americans to observe the rule of law and to respect the peaceful transfer of power and abide by the elections,” said Locke. “They’re now preaching to us.”
Locke’s comments came one day after supporters of President Donald Trump violently overtook the U.S. Capitol building, causing an hourslong delay to the finalization of Electoral College results that showed Trump lost to President-elect Joe Biden in November’s election.
Trump has refused to concede the race to Biden, falsely claiming his Democratic opponent’s victory was only possible because of widespread voter fraud. He pushed the baseless narrative Wednesday at a rally in Washington, during which he also encouraged his supporters to go to the Capitol to protest Congress’ confirmation of the Electoral College votes.
After the pro-Trump mob occupied the Capitol, the president posted a video on Twitter telling them to “go home now” — while again making false claims about the election results. There have been four deaths linked to the unrest, including one woman who, authorities say, was shot and killed by police. More than 50 police officers also were injured.
The top two Democrats in Congress, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, have called for Trump’s immediate removal from office. If Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s Cabinet do not invoke the 25th Amendment, Schumer and Pelosi said Congress could move to impeach him.
U.S. allies have expressed disappointment over the Capitol chaos, with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday calling it “disgraceful.” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a recorded statement that the riots in Washington were “not America, definitely.” He added, “We believe in the strength of American democracy.”
Political scientist Larry Sabato told CNBC he believes the global image of the U.S. has been impaired by the Capitol Hill riots. “I would like to think that we’ll be able to repair the damage, but it isn’t going to be easy,” he said on “Power Lunch,” contending Trump bears responsibility for the harm.
“I don’t think you’re going to see the United States preaching about our great democratic … system very much, at least for the next few years,” added Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “The sheen is off the shining city on the hill, to use the phrase that [former President] Ronald Reagan liked to use. It’s a tragedy.”