Former attorney general William Barr said President Donald Trump’s conduct as a violent mob of his supporters stormed the US Capitol was a “betrayal of his office and supporters”.
In a statement, Mr Barr said that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable”.
Mr Barr was one of Mr Trump’s most loyal and ardent defenders in the Cabinet.
His comments come a day after angry and armed protesters broke into the US Capitol, forcing Congress members to halt the ongoing vote to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election and then flee from the House and Senate chambers.
Mr Barr resigned last month amid lingering tension over the president’s baseless claims of election fraud and the investigation into Mr Biden’s son.
Capitol Police chief condemns protest and identifies woman who died
The chief of the US Capitol Police says the violent mob that stormed the building wielded metal pipes, chemical irritants and other weapons against law enforcement.
Steven Sund issued a statement saying the rioting protesters “actively attacked” police officers and “were determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage”.
A Capitol Police officer shot and killed one person, who Mr Sund identified as Ashli Babbitt.
Mr Sund did not identify the officer but said they would be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Mr Sund defended his agency’s response from criticism that officers did not stop the incursion.
He says his agency “had a robust plan” for what he anticipated would be peaceful protests, but what occurred Wednesday was “criminal riotous behaviour”.
He said more than 50 Capitol and Washington police officers were injured and several Capitol Police officers were taken to hospital with serious injuries.