GOP lawmaker claims protesting constituents were arrested and ‘placed into a mental institution’
Rep. Dave Reichert (KCTS)

A Washington state Republican explained that he held a town hall meeting via Facebook because his constituents posed too much of a dangerous threat to meet with them face to face.

Several hundred people gathered Thursday outside the office of Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) to demand a public meeting, as the GOP lawmaker went ahead with plans to answer questions during a live interview on social media, reported the Seattle Times.

Reichert has refused to hold one of the in-person town hall meetings where angry constituents have confronted GOP lawmakers on repealing the Affordable Care Act and other items on the Trump agenda.

Instead, he sat down with KCTS-TV for an interview that was streamed on Facebook Live.

“I will not do a town hall with [400] or 500 people," Reichert told the TV station. "They’re not productive. It’s just a moment that people -- some people, not all, but some people -- want to use to voice their opinions sometimes in a very loud, very rude, and obscene way."

The former King County sheriff claims his office staff has faced threats and physical confrontations.

"We've had to call the police," he said. "We've had people arrested. We've had people placed into a mental institution. I don't want to do that."

Reichert's constituents have mocked the GOP lawmaker by holding their own events with an empty chair in his place.

About 400 people attended the protest outside Reichert's Issaquah district office, and KCTS said it received about 5,000 questions for the congressman.

"Now it's another group of people who are understandably concerned, they're afraid," Reichert said. "But my view of town halls today, it's degenerated into a shouting, yelling, screaming match."

Reichert has promised to meet with constituents in groups of eight people, and has a March 3 meeting scheduled with a small group of Eighth District Indivisible activists, but the group's founder said she hadn't heard from any Indivisible members who have spoken directly with the congressman for a month.

"Some of the phone calls we're getting, matter of fact, have caused me to come to this conclusion," Reichert said. "One day my staff of four people in Issaquah answered more than 700 phone calls. Now, you would think that maybe 50-50 were negative ... in fact that was not the case -- 85 percent of them were people who were (negative)."