UPDATE – 12:15, January 9, 2021 – Our video of the entire news conference was added below.
Canadian County Sheriff Chris West confirms that he was at the “Save America” rally held by President Trump Wednesday but disavows insurrectionists who fought police and killed one, broke into the Capitol, and terrorized members of Congress.
Word started leaking out Thursday that West, a well-known and outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, was at the rally. And with no official word of his whereabouts, rumors started flying around the metro about the level of his involvement.
Friday, in an attempt to gain control of the narrative, West held a news conference at the Sheriff’s office in El Reno to answer questions from the media. Free Press was there.
“I rebuke it”
In his preliminary remarks and then in response to questions, West denied repeatedly that he had been a part of the the leading edge of the crowd that fought Capitol Police and then pushed into the Capitol Building.
“I rebuke every bit of it,” said West about the violence, attacks on police, and the deaths, one of which was a Capitol Police officer.
He insisted throughout the news conference to multiple questions that he did not see any of the attacks personally but has seen video of them since.
“I can’t talk about where was I when the violence was going on because I didn’t see the violence. I don’t know when it happened,” West said.
“What happened at the nation’s capital, crimes that were committed, the egregious crimes on our, on our beacon, the bastion of hope for our nation, breaking into that and terrorizing it: That’s horrible,” said West.
“The fact that people died at the Capitol, the fact that law enforcement officers were assaulted on our nation’s Capitol, that our Congressional members and other people in our government were fearful: I rebuke all of it, every bit of it. I vehemently rebuke it.”
West freely admitted that he went to the D.C. rally to support Trump.
“I went to Washington DC this week,” said West. “I went as a citizen, as Chris West the individual. I’m a Trump supporter. I don’t think that there’s any any surprise about that. I think people are very aware of it. I’m pretty outspoken. I think it’s really important for me to say that.”
He said he wanted to be there to see it first hand and not learn about it “just by hearing about it on mainstream media.”
But, then he tried to reassure those who live in Canadian County, that his personal politics don’t affect how he does the job of being the county’s top law enforcement officer.
“The way that I execute my duties as the sheriff is totally separate and apart from my personal politics as an individual,” said West. “I would never let any parts of politics interfere in my obligation and duty to the public or any of my employees.”
“There’s no partisanship,” West said.
He also said that his wife supported his going to the D.C. rally “but she asked me not to make that public, for her safety.”
He said several times in the news conference that he was there because he loved Trump and it seemed that other people there loved Trump, too.
Social media questions
West tried to sort out a tangle of questions that started to fly by Friday morning about his social media accounts and if he was trying to cover up imprudent posts he might have made from the rally.
First, he addressed questions about brutal, thinly-veiled threats against members of Congress on Twitter by the account @CLWest156 who some believed to be owned by West.
One such tweet said, “The traitorous congress (sic) has to go home some time … One at a time.”
“That’s, that’s not my Twitter account. That is not my Twitter account,” insisted West. “I did have a Twitter account. I did have a Facebook page. But I deleted it because of this kind of stuff. Because of the same reason that I didn’t post anything or tell anybody. Because I’ve been married to a wonderful woman for almost 40 years. And I have children and I have grandchildren. And I wanted to do, I wanted to protect them.”
Other than that, West did not explain why he deleted his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
West also showed a printed photo collage someone had done with an old photo of him from months ago and a photo of a man around his age with a gray goatee and mustache who had been wearing a helmet and some military-style gear. The printout accused West of being that man in the military gear and of joining into the mayhem.
West categorically denied that the photo of the one man in the helmet was him.
Entire News Conference
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