Paxton, who was in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, described the scene of “a couple hundred thousand” people as mainly peaceful while people exercised their First Amendment right.
“Obviously, a certain small percentage of those people crossed the line,” Paxton said on FOX Business’ “Mornings with Maria.”
However, Paxton said those who went too far should “absolutely” be arrested and prosecuted.
“It's the same thing that happened this summer with most people peacefully protesting law enforcement issues,” he explained. “But some people crossed the line and they should be held accountable.”
Violence erupted Wednesday when protesters breached the halls of Congress as lawmakers were in the process of certifying the Electoral College votes won by President-elect Joe Biden. They were told to put on gas masks and barricade inside as law enforcement officers tried to restore order amid the chaos. Protesters reportedly smashed glass doors and authorities drew their weapons to protect the building. The security breach resulted in four deaths and at least 70 arrests.
The attorney general went on to say he strongly believes in the First Amendment and that the majority of Wednesday’s protests is “what people should do.”
“They have opinions -- they should be able to march. They should be able to protest. They should be able to speak to their government,” Paxton said. “But as I said, once you start harming other people, whether it's their property or them individually or even government property, you should be held accountable. That's not the First Amendment.”
He added that “democracy is a risky business” and when thousands of people attend a protest, there’s a chance some people will go too far.
“It doesn't seem to matter whether we have liberal people doing it or conservative people,” he said. “Some people make the mistake of going too far, and that's where they have to be held accountable. So I would say on either side, it doesn't matter. We all have the right to protest. We all the First Amendment rights. But in the end, we also have to be responsible for not harming other people.”
Fox News' Danielle Wallace, Louis Casiano, and David Aaro contributed to this report.