George W. Bush said the Capitol riot left him ‘sick to my stomach’ and called the Trump supporters responsible ‘hostile forces’

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Former President George W. Bush in 2019 in Arlington, Virginia. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • Former President George W. Bush said the Capitol riot made him sick to his stomach.
  • Bush issued a statement soon after the riot, and this week said he is “still disturbed” by it.
  • He stopped short of blaming Trump, but it’s a damning assessment of the former president.
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Former President George W. Bush said that the Capitol riot left him sick to his stomach, and he branded the followers of President Donald Trump who stormed the building “hostile forces.”

In an interview with the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith, Bush described how watching the January 6 attack “really disturbed” him, both then and now.

“I was sick to my stomach … to see our nation’s Capitol being stormed by hostile forces,” he said.

“And it really disturbed me to the point where I did put out a statement, and I’m still disturbed when I think about it. It undermines rule of law, the ability to express yourself in peaceful ways in a public square. This was an expression that was not peaceful.”

Bush has kept a relatively low political profile since leaving office, becoming known for taking up painting. But following the attack on the Capitol, he issued a statement saying he was “appalled” by the behavior of some political leaders – an apparent reference to Trump. He also compared the rioters’ tactics to those of a “banana republic.”

Earlier this month, Bush joined other former presidents to promote the COVID-19 vaccine in a TV ad that notably excluded Trump.

In his Texas Tribune interview, portions of which were later aired by CNN, he gave a blunt no to the question of whether he thought the election was stolen from Trump.

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George W. Bush speaking to the Texas Tribune in an interview segment aired on CNN. Texas Tribune/SXSW/CNN

Following the election, Trump and many Republicans perpetuated a claim of widespread election fraud that, despite being knocked back in the courts, angered the former president’s followers.

But Bush said he was “optimistic” about democracy, and that the current “anger in the system” may “eventually work its way out of the system.”

“The history of the United States has shown these populist movements begin to fritter over time,” he said.