BREAKING: Pro-Trump Rioters Storm the U.S Capitol and Disrupt Count of Electoral Votes
Only a short time after Congress began its constitutionally-mandated obligation of counting the electoral votes to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands of President Trump’s followers stormed the Capitol. The Pro-Trump mob overtook security officers of the Capitol, pushed past barricades, and vandalized the very infrastructure the holds up the seed of American government. Photographs circulated of a man stealing the podium from the chamber of the House of Representatives as well as others trashing the office of the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Vice President Mike Pence was quickly removed from the premises and Congressional members were forced to lock down in their respective chambers.
The outbreak of this mob violence also comes the day after the Georgia Senate runoof election, in which Democratic candidates Jon Osssoff and Raphael Warnock both claimed victory. The events of the day began with the rally scheduled weeks in advance by President Trump and his allies aimed at opposing the results of the 2020 election, named “Stop the Steal.” The rally was intentionally scheduled on the same day at which Congress was set to follow its constitutional duty to certify the Electoral College votes, declaring Joe Biden the legitimate winner. The event, kicking off precisely one hour before the Joint Session of Congress convened, stood in complete opposition to the idea of constitutional duty. President Trump specifically repeated his calls for Vice President Mike Pence to “do the right thing,” pushing him to abuse his legal powers as President of the Senate to reject the election results. He then went on to say that the country’s elections were worse than some third-world nations, further eroding his supporter’s faith in the electoral process.
Once the rally came to end, the rally attendees carried their “Don’t Tread on Me” and “Trump 2020” flags over to the Capitol Hill. Emboldened by Trump’s destabilizing rhetoric, these rioters soon came closer to the actual Capitol Building than any Confederate troops did.
Kenny Holston/The New York Times
The Pro-Trump Mob occupied the Capitol for hours. Some vandalized the door to the House Chamber, forcing law enforcement officers to draw their guns and barricade the entrance. Others took hold of the Senate Chamber. One member of the Pro-Trump mob who was able to make his way onto the Senate dais yelled, “Trump won the election,” according to press who were still inside the room. Another mob member proudly displayed a park of a sign broken off from the entrance to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, holding it up as a kind of trophy.
In response to these violent rioters, a grossly overwhelmed Capitol Police called on reinforcements from FBI and the Department of Homeland Security agents. After a request from Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Army activated the entire D.C National Guard. The decision to deploy the D.C National Guard was approved by Vice President Mike Pence, not President Trump, according to Defense officials. The National Guard would be deployed to help police clear the area in and around the Capitol. A 6 pm curfew has also been imposed by the Mayor Bowser to remove everyone without a clearance from the Mayor off the streets until 6 am. Congress is expected to re-convene Wednesday night to resume their confirmation of the Electoral College results.
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Although there have been reports of tear gas fired and a confirmed civilian death from a gunshot wound inside the Capitol, there have been few actual arrests made throughout the day. The police focused more on dispersing the protestors and clearing the area without inciting charges for acts of vandalization, trespassing, and non-compliance.
Leaders across the political spectrum commented on the shocking and slightly surreal events of the day. President-elect Joe Biden in a televised address firmly called on the mob to, “pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.” He also cited the President’s responsibility in playing a direct role in the insurrection through his conspiratorial rhetoric, stating “At their best the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.” On the other side of aisle, George W. Bush released a statement strongly condemning the rioters’ actions as “sickening” and “heartbreaking.” He went on to say he was, “appalled” by the lack of political leadership displayed today. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) called out the president explicitly, telling a reporter,“this is what the president has caused today, this insurrection.”
Despite strong statements of condemnation and demands for immediate halt to the disruptions from Democrats and Republicans alike, the President largely refrained from any such language. Only after Biden’s televised speech and intense pressure from his staffers did Trump post a video taken outside the Oval Office addressing the situation. In the video, although he encouraged his supporters to go home, he did no way condemn their fractious siege of the Capitol or the D.C area. Instead he added fuel to the fire by saying, “We had an election that was stolen from us.” He also seemed to offer his approval of his supporters’ violent behavior ending the video by saying “We love you, you’re very special.” Since the video was released via Twitter, Twitter has completely shut off his access to his account for 12 hours and warns a permanent ban could soon follow. This represents a significant escalation in the ongoing war with President Trump and the social media platform that has routinely flagged his posts in recent months for spreading false, misleading, or unverified information.
Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and willful negligence have created consequences that will echo through the hallowed halls of the Capitol for decades. In the twilight of his presidency, the world awaits to see if his days in the White House will end with a bang or a whimper.
This is a developing story. Coverage will be updated regularly to reflect new developments.