Violent supporters of defeated American president Donald Trump today stormed the capital’s legislative halls in Washington DC, shutting down the process to confirm his replacement.
Within minutes of the president speaking at a rally on the nearby Mall, in which he urged his followers to march to the Capitol and put a stop to Joe Biden being officially approved as the next national leader by lawmakers, fights broke out on the steps of the building as thousands – some reportedly armed – attempted to force their way past cops and break into the building.
The insurrectionists were successful, smashing their way into the Capitol, leading to dramatic scenes not seen since the British forces entered Washington DC in 1814. Both chambers of Congress were evacuated, halting the counting of electoral votes, with lawmakers forced to don gas masks as tear gas was deployed in an effort to clear the riot.
— Bloomberg (@business) January 6, 2021
At least one person was shot, and is in critical condition, and pictures of plain-clothes officers with guns drawn pointing at the doors of the Senate were posted online. During the security breach, Trump’s supporters stormed legislative offices, tweeting live video and images of desks hastily abandoned, with computers still on and emails visible and accessible.
Despite promising to lead the mob himself, the president was driven to his current residence, the White House, following his speech in which he claimed, without basis, that the November election had been stolen from him.
In a lengthy screed in which the president argued that his untrue allegations of widespread fraud were “so crazy no one will believe them,” he twice exhorted his supporters to disrupt the process taking place behind him in which his rival was being formally certified as the next president ahead of his inauguration on January 20.
The plea was a last-ditch effort by the president to retain his power and position following a lengthy failed legal campaign, numerous rallies in which he railed against democratic elections, and efforts to pressure officials, lawmakers and, finally, his own vice-president to overturn the results.
Trump lost the election by a significant margin, and was further weakened on Wednesday when his tantrums were blamed for the loss of the Senate from his Republican party to the Democrats in an election for two seats in the state of Georgia.
Trump was embarrassed just days earlier when his effort to force the governor of Georgia to “find” tens of thousands of votes in his favor were made public by the governor himself who recorded and released the phone call. With Trump’s grasp on power slipping, and his own party turning on him, the president turned to drastic measures.
The president was aided by a number of Republican lawmakers who reiterated bogus claims of fraudulent results and used the vote certification process to make speeches from the floor of Congress.
BREAKING: The U.S. Capitol is on lockdown after pro-Trump protestors breached the building as Congress began to certify Electoral College votes for Biden. https://t.co/QiCIeY3ZPv
— Axios (@axios) January 6, 2021
Even those lawmakers who raised objections to Biden’s win were seemingly shocked by the result of their actions. Despite leading efforts to disrupt the ratification process, soon after Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was evacuated thanks to the rising level of violence in the Capitol, he tweeted: “Violence is always unacceptable. Even when passions run high. Anyone engaged in violence – especially against law enforcement – should be fully prosecuted.”
In the past few minutes, Biden gave a short speech in which he described today’s swarming of rioters and intrusion of the halls of liberty as an “insurrection,” and urged Trump to go on TV and call off the mob.
Meanwhile the president remained behind closed doors at the White House. Under pressure from senior lawmakers, who called the storming of the Capitol “Un-American” and demanded that the president tell his followers to stand down, Trump tweeted: “I am asking for everyone at the US Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
He later told them to go home in a video address. We shall see if it has any effect. ®