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Photo: Gary Miller/Getty Images

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton denounced the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

What they're saying: Carter said in a statement he was "troubled by the violence," calling it a "national tragedy" that "is not who we are as a nation."

"I know that the the people can unite to walk back from the precipice to peacefully uphold the laws of our nation, and we must. We join our fellow citizens in praying for a peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries."
— Excerpt from Carter's statement

Bush condemned the "reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election" as he slammed the "sickening and heartbreaking sight" of rioters storming the U.S. Capitol.

"This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic," Bush said in a statement.

  • "The violent assault on the Capitol —and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress — was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes. Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation."

Clinton said in a statement that "we faced an unprecedented assault on our Capitol, our Constitution, and our country."

  • He said the assault was "fueled by more than four years of poison politics spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in our system, and pitting Americans against one another."
  • Clinton added "the match was lit" by President Trump and his most ardent enablers, including in Congress, to overturn the results in an election he lost."

Obama didn't hold back in who was to blame in his statement on the insurrection, noting history would "rightly remember" that it was "incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Carter, Clinton and Obama's comments.

Go deeper

Bush labels Clyburn the “savior” for Democrats

House Majority Whip James Clyburn takes a selfie Wednesday with former President George W. Bush. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush credited Rep. James Clyburn with being the "savior" of the Democratic Party, telling the South Carolinian at Wednesday's inauguration his endorsement allowed Joe Biden to win the party's presidential nomination.

Why it matters: The nation's last two-term Republican president also said Clyburn's nod allowed for the transfer of power, because he felt only Biden had the ability to unseat President Trump.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.

2 hours ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.