The two top Democrats in Congress, Sen. Charles Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, reached out directly to Vice President Mike Pence Thursday to try to push him to act immediately to remove President Trump from office, only to be rebuffed.
The two leaders called Pence hours after he had overseen a Joint Session of Congress to count the electoral votes to make Joe Biden the next president, despite intense pressure by President Trump that Pence move against it.
But if they had hopes that Pence might join in a speedy potential effort to seize the reins of power from a volatile Trump in his final days in office, the reception they got may provide an answer.
‘Speaker Pelosi and I tried to call the vice president this morning to tell him to do this,’ Schumer told reporters in New York Thursday. ‘They kept us on hold for 25 minutes and then said the Vice President wouldn’t come on the phone.’
‘So we are making this call public because he should do it and do it right away,’ Schumer said, explaining why both he and Pelosi are calling on Pence and the Trump cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare Trump unfit and install Pence as president in an acting capacity.
The call preceded furious comments from Pelosi charging Trump with fomenting ‘insurrection’ and inciting ‘sedition.’
‘Yesterday the President of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America,’ Pelosi said at a Capitol press conference a day after Trump supporters stormed the building after attending a rally where Trump spoke.
She used stark language beyond even the tough talk of impeachment in last December and January, accusing him of crimes against the nation he leads.
‘In calling for this seditious act, the president has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people,’ said Pelosi.
Pelosi applied pressure to Vice President Mike Pence and urged him to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Pence is pictured Thursday being escorted to the House Chamber
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said President Donald Trump had incited ‘sedition’ against the United States as she and Sen Chuck Schumer demanded the president’s removal from office
‘What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer,’ Chuck Schumer said in a statement Thursday
Pelosi applied pressure to Vice President Mike Pence – who presided over at joint session to count the electoral votes to make Joe Biden president in a race Trump falsely claims he won – and urged him to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
‘The gleeful desecration of the U.S. Capitol, which is the temple of our American democracy, and the violence targeting Congress, are horrors that will forever stain our nation’s history – instigated by the president of the United States. That’s why it’s such a stain,’ she intoned.
‘By inciting sedition like he did yesterday, he must be removed from office,’ she said of Trump. ‘While it’s only 13 days left, any day can be a horror show for America,’ she said of Trump’s remaining time in office.
‘I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th amendment. If the vice president and cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment,’ she said.
Pelosi tweeted shortly after her event: ‘Trump is deadly to our democracy and our people. He needs to go now’
She said it was an idea backed by her caucus. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer made a similar threat in a brief statement earlier Thursday.
She called Trump ‘a complete tool of Putin.’
‘Putin’s goal was to diminish the view of democracy in the world. That’s what he has been about … the president gave him the biggest, of all of his many gifts to Putin, the biggest yesterday,’ she said of the Russian president.
Pelosi tweeted shortly after her event: ‘Trump is deadly to our democracy and our people. He needs to go now.’
Schumer will become majority leader once Joe Biden is sworn in.
He spoke out amid escalating concern among Trump cabinet officials, former top aides, and his recently departed attorney general Bill Barr about the president’s conduct and continued risks the president could pose to the country.
But there was no indication of how Republicans will act – and early in the afternoon, Elaine Chao, the Transportation Secretary and wife of Mitch McConnell quit, a move which stops her taking part in removing Trump from office.
‘The quickest and most effective way – it can be done today – to remove this president from office would be for the Vice President to immediately invoke the 25th amendment,’ Schumer said.
‘If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president,’ Schumer added.
His statement came shortly after Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois became the first elected House Republican to call for the Trump cabinet and Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to strip away Trump’s power.
In a series of developments Thursday:
- Just after 1pm, another bombshell dropped as Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary and wife of Mitch McConnell resigned over the violence – the first member of Trump’s cabinet to quit
- Democratic House members circulated draft articles of impeachment accusing Trump of inciting violent sedition and being a threat to national security
- Facebook banned Trump from his account until at least his last day in office and possibly indefinitely
- Joe Biden – unprompted – raised the use of the 25th Amendment as he called the mobs ‘an assault on democracy’
Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger demanded Mike Pence and the Cabinet remove Donald Trump by invoking the 25th Amendment immediately. He posted a video to Twitter in which he said he is calling for Donald Trump to be removed from office ‘for the sake of our Democracy’
‘It’s with a heavy heart I am calling for the sake of our Democracy that the 25th Amendment be invoked,’ Kinzinger said in a statement he posted on Twitter.’
AOC says Cabinet should use 25th Amendment and Congress should impeach – and wants Republican inciters expelled from House and Senate
Kinzinger said Trump ‘invoked and inflamed passions that only gave fuel to the insurrection we saw.’
His comment followed reporters that members of Trump’s cabinet have been discussing use of the 25th Amendment to the constitution to declare him unfit for office
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) has released articles of impeachment he has drafted with Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.).
The articles state that Trump ‘engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors’ by ‘willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.’
The articles cite Trump’s Wednesday remarks to supporters shortly before they stormed the Capitol during the electoral vote count. ‘Shortly before the Joint Session of Congress commenced,’ Trump addressed supporters where he ‘reiterated false claims that ‘we won this election, and we won it by a landslide,’ the articles state. Trump also ‘wilfully made statements that encouraged – and foreseeably resulted in – imminent lawless action at the Capitol.’
The articles say a mob ‘incited by President Trump’ breached the Capitol and ‘interfered with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty’ to certify the results.
They say the actions were ‘consistent with his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct’ the certification of the results. They mention his Jan. 2 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, where he asked the official to ‘find’ 11,780 votes that would give him victory.
Georgia certified the vote for Joe Biden.
Trump ‘gravely endangered the security’ of the U.S. and its institutions of government, the articles say. IT calls his actions ‘grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.’
If Trump were impeached and convicted, he would be unable to hold future office of ‘honor, trust or profit’ under the U.S
Joe Biden said he would not be taking questions on whether the 25th amendment should be used to remove President Trump from office.
Biden made the statement at the top of his announcement of his nominee for attorney general, explaining he wants to ‘focus on the ideas today’ instead.
‘I know you will have a lot of questions, but I want to focus on the idea today, the judiciary as well as talking about the attorney general’s office so I’ll have time to answer the questions you want to ask about everything from 25th amendment but I won’t speak to that today. I want this to be the issue to focus because I think it’s so important,’ he told the room of reporters in Wilmington, Del.
Biden went on to call Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol as ‘one of the darkest days in the history of our nation.’
He called the mob ‘domestic terrorists.’
‘They weren’t protesters. Don’t dare call them protesters. They were a riotous mob, insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists,’ he said.
Rep. Ilhan Omar has presented article’s of impeachment. ‘We need to move quickly to remove this President from office,’ she said
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) has released articles of impeachment he has drafted with Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). The articles state that Trump ‘engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors’ by ‘willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States’
Former Attorney General Bill Barr – who departed his post before Christmas – called out Trump for ‘orchestrating a mob.’
Barr called it a ‘betrayal of his office and supporters.’
The talk of using the 25th Amendment comes amid fears of what damage Trump might we able to due even in the short two weeks left in his tenure as aides flee his White House and he continues to lash out at enemies – with control of the military and massive executive power.
Several House Democrats have begun talk of rushing through an impeachment, after the failed January impeachment trial in the Senate.
The 25th Amendment, which also governs a president who voluntarily relinquishes power on a temporary basis, requires that the vice president and ‘a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide’ inform the Congress that the president is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’
Former Attorney General Bill Barr has said ‘orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable’
Game over: Mike Pence put the final seal on Joe Biden’s election victory in the early hours of Thursday morning, declaring once and for all that Donald Trump had lost the election by a 306-232 margin in the electoral college
Rep. Andy Kim is seen cleaning up debris and personal belongings strewn across the floor of the Rotunda in the early morning hours of Thursday
Sen. Tim Scott stops to look at damage in the early morning hours of Thursday after protesters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday
WHAT DOES THE 25TH AMENDMENT SAY? CAN TRUMP’S CABINET REALLY TOPPLE HIM?
The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution deals with presidential authority in the event of death or removal from office, and was ratified in 1967, in the wake of John F Kennedy’s assassination.
What does the 25th Amendment say?
It is in four sections, all dealing with the president leaving office during his or her elected term.
The first section states that the vice president takes over the Oval Office if the president dies or resigns – or is removed – something which the original Constitution did not clearly state.
Presidents of course can be removed by impeachment, a feature of the constitution from the start. They can also be removed through the 25th Amendment – of which more below.
Section II states that if the vice president dies, or resigns – or is fired – both the House and Senate have to confirm a new vice president. Until 1967, presidents could change vice presidents mid-term on their own if they got the vice president to agree to resign – not something that actually happened, but which was possible in principle.
Section III makes clear that a president can temporarily delegate his powers to the vice president, and later reclaim them when he – or she – is capable of serving. This is most often invoked if a president is under the influence of surgical anesthetic for a short period of time.
Section IV is the amendment’s most controversial part: it describes how the president can be removed from office if he is incapacitated and does not leave on his own.
The vice president and ‘a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide’ must write to both the president pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, saying that ‘the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’
The term principal officers of the executive departments would normally mean the cabinet secretaries.
So at least eight of the president’s 15 most senior Cabinet members together with the vice president must agree that a president should be removed before any plan can move forward.
Notifying the House Speaker and the Senate president pro tempore is the act that immediately elevates the vice president to an ‘acting president’ role.
The deposed president can contest the claim, giving the leaders of the bloodless coup four days to re-assert their claims to the House and Senate.
Congress then has two days to convene – unless it is already in session – and another 21 days to vote on whether the president is incapable of serving. A two-thirds majority in both houses is required to make that determination.
As soon as there is a vote with a two-thirds majority, the president loses his powers and is removed, and the vice president stops acting and is sworn in as president.
But if 21 days of debate and votes ends without a two-thirds majority, the president gets back his powers.
What could happen to trigger the 25th Amendment?
Vice President Mike Pence and eight of the 15 ‘principal’ Cabinet members would have to agree to notify Congress that President Donald Trump was incapable of running the country.
That group is made up of the Secretary of State, Treasury Secretary, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Interior Secretary, Agriculture Secretary, Commerce Secretary, Labor Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretary, Transportation Secretary, Energy Secretary , Education Secretary, Veterans Affairs Secretary and Homeland Security Secretary.
Their formal notification would go to the House Speaker and, in the senate, to the ‘president pro tempore’, the Senate’s most senior member. As soon as the letter is sent, Pence would become ‘acting president.’
Alternatively, Congress could set up its own mechanism to decide if he is fit for office – maybe a commission, or a joint committee. Pence would still have to agree with its conclusion and then write formally to the Speaker and president pro tempore.
Or another possibility is that the pool of ‘principal officers’ is considered to be bigger than the 15 and a majority of that group call Trump incapable.
What if Trump does not agree?
If Trump claims he is capable of holding office, he would write to the House Speaker and the president pro tempore of the Senate within four days, setting up three weeks of intense debate in both houses of Congress.
Trump would be removed from office if both two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate agreed with Pence and his cabal.
If either of both chambers fell short of that mark, Trump would retain his powers and likely embark on a wholesale housecleaning, firing Pence and replacing disloyal Cabinet members.
Are there any loopholes?
The 25th Amendment allows Congress to appoint its own panel to evaluate the president instead of relying on the Cabinet – the men and women who work most closely with Trump – to decide on a course of action.
It specifies that some ‘other body as Congress may by law provide’ could play that role, but Pence would still need to agree with any finding that the president is incapable of discharging his duties.
That commission could hypothetically include anyone from presidential historians to psychiatrists, entrusted to assess the president’s fitness for office.
Another loophole is that it does not spell out that the Cabinet is needed to agree, but says that the ‘principal officers’ of the departments are needed. That term is undefined in the constitution. In some departments legislation appears to name not just the secretary but deputies and even undersecretaries as ‘principal officers’, so many more people could be called in to the assessment of Trump’s fitness.
But Trump’s cabinet has a swathe of ‘acting’ cabinet officer – and it is unclear if they could therefore take part in removing him.
Could Trump fire Pence if he rebelled?
Yes, in principle. If Trump smelled a whiff of trouble – if Pence and a cabal of Cabinet members, or Pence and a panel assembled by Congress seemed ready to judge him incapacitated – he could dismiss his vice president with the stroke of a pen to stop the process.
But installing a more loyal VP could be problematic since the 25th Amendment includes its own poison pill: Both houses of Congress must vote to approve a new vice president.
That means Trump would find himself up against the same Congress that would vote on his fitness for office, unless the process were to unfold in the weeks before a new Congress.
Theoretically, a Democratic-controlled Congress could make life dramatically more difficult for the president if it came into power in the midst of the constitutional crisis.
One scenario has appeared to stump presidential historians, however: Firing Pence before the process is underway, and then leaving the vice presidency vacant, would give Congress no practical way forward. That would present its own constitutional crisis.
Is there any precedent for this?
No. Only Section III, the voluntary surrender of presidential powers, has ever been used – and only very briefly.
In December 1978, President Jimmy Carter thought about invoking Section III when he was contemplating a surgical procedure to remove hemorrhoids.
Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both voluntarily relinquished their powers while undergoing procedures under anesthetic.
Section IV has also never been invoked, although there have been claims that Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff Donald Regan told his successor, Howard Baker, in 1987 that he should be prepared to invoke it because Reagan was inattentive and inept.
The PBS documentary ‘American Experience’ recounts how Baker and his team watched Reagan closely for signs of incapacity during their first meeting and decided he was in perfect command of himself.
In another blow to Trump, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Trump will be blocked from both the Facebook and Instagram platforms at least through Inauguration Day, because the risks are ‘too great.’
Several Trump cabinet members serve on an ‘acting’ basis and have not been confirmed by the Senate, lowering the number from the threshold of 16 department heads who would take part in a 25th Amendment scenario. A post election purge took out the Defense secretary, and Attorney General Bill Barr.
Half the cabinet would have to vote, and Pence would then submit information to the Congress, making him acting president while other processes go forward.
Kinzinger for years has been an outlier in the GOP conference, bashing Trump publicly and in cable TV interviews when he believes Trump runs astray of democratic norms. But his public statement, made from his Capitol office in front of a U.S. flag, illustrates how quickly the possibility of action has jumped from fantasy to reality after Wednesday’s stunning events in the Capitol.
The new talk of the 25th Amendment came as officials in the Trump administration continued to resign and issued statements denouncing Trump’s conduct.
Former White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney quit his diplomatic post in protest of the effort to ‘overtake the government.’
‘I can’t do it,’ said Mulvaney, who called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, another former House Republican, to convey his views.
Mulvaney, a former House member from South Carolina who left Congress to join Trump’s team, spoke out on CNBC hours after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol after being egged on to march there by President Trump and his unsupported claims of mass election fraud.
‘I called Mike Pompeo last night to let him know I was resigning from that. I can’t do it. I can’t stay,’ he said, relinquishing his post as special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland in the final weeks of the Trump Administration.
He said he ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ to see ‘more of my friends resign over the next 24 to 48 hours.’ Mulvaney served in the House with Pompeo.
‘Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the President might put someone worse,’ he said – voicing an argument made by many top Trump officials who lingered for months or years despite harboring doubts they later shared about Trump’I can’t stay here. Not after yesterday,’ he said – with a model of Air Force One and a presidential seal in the background behind him during a video interview.
Donald Trump – pictured at the Wednesday rally near the White House where he whipped his supporters into a frenzy by repeating his false claims of election fraud – finally accepted his fate on Thursday morning and promised an ‘orderly transition’ on January 20, when Joe Biden will take office after being confirmed once and for all as the election winner
Trump’s grudging acknowledgement that Joe Biden will take office on January 20 was posted on Twitter by White House aide Dan Scavino, after the president’s own account was locked for stirring up violence on Wednesday
Thousands of Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters descended on Capitol Hill Wednesday to protest the results of the presidential election and obstruct Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory
Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf called the actions by Trump supporters who rampaged through the Capitol ‘sickening’ – and publicly pleaded with President Trump to condemn the violence.
‘What transpired yesterday was tragic and sickening,’ Wolf said in a statement Thursday.
‘While I have consistently condemned political violence on both sides of the aisle, specifically violence directed at law enforcement, we now see some supporters of the President using violence as a means to achieve political ends. This is unacceptable. These violent actions are unconscionable, and I implore the President and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday,’ Wolf said.
‘DHS takes the safety and security of all Americans very seriously—it’s at the core of our mission to defend our homeland. Any appearance of inciting violence by an elected official goes against who we are as Americans,’ Wolf continued.
He said he would remain in his post ‘to ensure the Department’s focus remains on the serious threats facing our country and an orderly transition to President-elect Biden’s DHS team.’
Guns on the floor of the House: Capitol police point their firearms at a vandalized door during the hours-long carnage that erupted on Wednesday after Trump told his supporters to protest the election result
Mockery: A Trump supporter puts his feet up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk after storming into the Capitol during an unprecedented effort to subvert a democratic election and keep Donald Trump in power
Fire and fury: The flash of a police munition lights up the steps of the Capitol during the invasion by a Trump-incited mob
A huge crowd of Trump supporters had turned up at the president’s urging to protest the results of a fair democratic election
Donald Trump finally accepted his fate just before 4am Thursday after Vice President Mike Pence ended his desperate campaign to overturn the election – still not properly conceding and instead boasting it was the ‘end of the greatest first term in history’ in a tweet from an aide’s cellphone.
The VP brought the gavel down on the Trump coup at 3:41 a.m. Thursday morning and certified President-elect Joe Biden’s win – despite the attempt of scores of Republicans and a violent MAGA mob to overturn it.
After Pence defied his boss to settle the 2020 election once and for all, Trump finally said there would be an ‘orderly transition’ – a hallmark of American democracy he has repeatedly called into question – but still claimed falsely that the election was stolen despite all 50 states, a series of judges and now the U.S. Congress dismissing challenges to the result.
Banned from twitter, the message was sent by Dan Scavino, his golf caddy-turned social media guru.
‘Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20,’ Trump said in a statement that aides posted on Twitter after the president’s account was locked for stirring up violence.
‘I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted,’ Trump said. ‘While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.’ Pence made the final announcement after a nearly 15-hour saga that saw rioting supporters of President Trump mob the U.S. Capitol Building in a day of carnage and shame that left four dead, saw pipe bombs, long guns and Molotov cocktails discovered in the Capitol grounds – and left America’s image as the beacon of democracy reeling.
The mob walked right through the halls of Congress, ransacking offices and brazenly taking photos
Trump supporters attempt to ram their way through a police barricade as they raged at the president’s election defeat
Trump supporters marched through the Capitol Rotunda after breaching what appeared to be flimsy security – a stark contrast with the heavy-handed crackdowns that Trump ordered against Black Lives Matter protesters last summer
Trash and Trump signs are seen piled beside the statue of Andrew Jackson – months after the president condemned the desecration of monuments to controversial figures in American history
A protester sits in the Senate Chamber, amid an invasion that forced Congress to suspend its joint session to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump
The MAGA mob – which included white supremacists, Holocaust deniers and Q Anon followers – interrupted the certification of results as they smashed through police barricades, stormed into the halls of the Capitol and even sat in the Senate chamber.
They looted offices, vandalized statues and confronted police as they rampaged through the Capitol, carrying Confederate flags, in hours of anarchy which shocked the world and which Biden called an ‘insurrection’.
As the world watched in disbelief, many were shocked at how easily the invaders had breached the hallways of American democracy – contrasting the lax security with the heavy-handed crackdowns ordered by Trump at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.
Even as intruders desecrated the Capitol, Trump was said to be reluctant to deploy the National Guard, with reports saying that he ‘rebuffed and resisted’ the request before Pence and others finally made it happen.
Lawmakers were rushed off the floor of the House and Senate – and brought back at 8pm under armed guard while outside the mob defied a curfew in D.C. The president who had whipped them into fury tweeted: ‘You are special. You are loved.’
One woman – 14-year Air Force veteran Ashli Babbit – was shot dead inside the building, with three others dead from unspecified ‘medical emergencies’ during the carnage. Washington police chief Robert Contee said 14 officers were injured, one of them pulled into a crowd and assaulted, while 52 people were arrested.
Supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Wednesday amid questions over how they breached security so easily
A woman was shot in the chest on Wednesday afternoon after chaotic scenes broke out when dozens of Trump supporters breached security perimeters at the Capitol. She died at a hospital hours later, law enforcement sources said
The siege brought an hours-long halt to what is usually the solemn democratic ritual of putting a final seal on the election result. When lawmakers eventually returned to their chambers, the Republicans trying to resist Biden’s victory found that their numbers had dwindled, and all of their objections were voted down.
The spectacle of a violent gang rampaging through the legislature trying to overturn an election result prompted outrage and anguish from America’s fellow democracies, with Britain’s Boris Johnson condemning the ‘disgraceful scenes’ and Germany’s Angela Merkel saying she was ‘furious and saddened’ by the chaos.
It was also seized on by America’s authoritarian rivals to mock the state of US democracy, with Iran calling it ‘fragile and vulnerable’ and Russia saying that the election system ‘does not meet modern democratic standards’.
Former president Barack Obama described the riot as a ‘moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation’, while his predecessor George W. Bush said that ‘this is how election results are disputed in a banana republic’.
Congress’ overwhelming rejection of attempts to overturn the vote and Pence’s role in it will surely further enrage Trump, who wanted his VP to unilaterally overrule Biden’s win – and he was left further isolated by the resignation of multiple White House aides including former press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, social secretary Rickie Niceta and deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews also quit, with more resignations expected from aides disgusted with Trump’s conduct.
The president was banished from Twitter for 12 hours Wednesday due to violating the company’s rules meaning he could not vent on his favorite medium. The ban was due to expire at 5am Thursday morning, but there was no immediate word on whether Trump’s access had been restored.
The Republican bid to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory ended early Thursday morning after the Senate voted 92-7 to dismiss a challenge to Pennsylvania’s Electoral College vote
Protesters broke windows to gain access to the Capitol as lawmakers were whisked to safety on Wednesday afternoon
America’s rivals gloat over Capitol chaos
America’s authoritarian rivals have delighted in the chaos at the Capitol, with Iran reveling in the ‘fragility of Western democracy’ and Venezuela mimicking the kind of criticism it usually receives from Washington.
In a speech broadcast by state television, Rouhani said: ‘What we saw in the United States yesterday evening and today shows above all how fragile and vulnerable Western democracy is.’
In China, state-run tabloid Global Times crowed that ‘bubbles of democracy and freedom have burst’ in America. It also compared the chaos to the Hong Kong protests in 2019, mocking US politicians who had praised the demonstrations there.
In Russia, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the ‘archaic’ US system was to blame for the rampage.
‘The electoral system in the United States is archaic, it does not meed modern democratic standards, creating opportunities for numerous violations, and the American media have become an instrument of political struggle,’ Zakharova said.
And in Veneuzela, parodying the kind of statements that usually come from Washington, authorities expressed ‘concern’ about the violence while calling for the US follow a path of ‘stability’ and ‘social justice’.
Although Trump still refuses to accept he lost the election, his early-morning statement was the first time he had fully acknowledged that he will be leaving the White House on January 20.
The president has spent the last two months refusing to concede and lobbing baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, even though his own Justice Department, federal courts and state governments have said repeatedly the vote was carried out freely and fairly.
With just 13 days left of his presidency, Trump is now at war with Mitch McConnell, facing whispers of his own cabinet trying to force him out and Democrats openly discussing impeaching him again – while just a handful of senators led by Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and the majority of the House GOP remain loyal.
It was Hawley who forced Congress to sit late into the night. Biden was at 244 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed when a final challenge of Pennsylvania’s count pushed lawmakers back into their respective chambers.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell skipped the two hours of permitted debate and went straight to a vote.
The upper chamber voted 92-7 to overrule the Republicans’ objection – with some Republicans changing sides to vote with the majority after the carnage of the preceding hours.
‘We don’t expect additional votes tonight,’ McConnell said when things were done. McConnell had been against the GOP effort to challenge the Electoral College vote counts from the beginning.
The House proceeded with debate and then voted 282 to 138 to overrule the challenge of Pennsylvania, with 64 Republicans voting alongside Democrats to make up the majority.
Both houses have to vote in favor of a challenge for it to succeed.
Republicans in the House and Senate had earlier challenged the votes in Arizona – which prompted two hours of debate, interrupted by the MAGA riot – and that objection was overwhelmingly overruled.
House Republicans also tried to challenge the results in Georgia, Michigan and Nevada, but GOP senators would no longer sign on after the day’s dramatic events.
‘Mr. President prior to the actions and events of today we did but following the events of today it appears that some senators have withdrawn their objection,’ admitted Georgia Rep. Jody Hice when challenging the results in his state.
Congressional staffers barricade themselves inside their offices as Trump supporters rampage through the Capitol Building
Trump’s supporters had gathered to demand that the will of the American people be overturned by the House and Senate
The Confederate flag was flew in the hallways of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday after a Trump supporter brought it inside
People wearing gas masks take shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into America’s lower chamber
Trump taken off social media after praising rioters
Twitter has suspended Donald Trump’s account for 12 hours and for the first time deleted his tweets after he praised the mob who stormed Congress and said he ‘loved’ them.
YouTube and Facebook also followed suit in removing the posts, with Facebook and Instagram also blocking Trump from their platform for 24 hours.
Snapchat blocked him on Wednesday morning, before he filmed the video. The platform said their locking of his account was indefinite.
In the deleted video, he poured more fuel on the fire, claiming the election was ‘stolen’ and telling the rioters that he ‘loved’ them.
Twitter said it had removed the tweets for violating their ‘Civic Integrity policy’.
‘As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy,’ the social media company said.
‘This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.’
At nearly 4 a.m., Rep. Louie Gohmert tried to get one more challenge through – for the state of Wisconsin – but, again, a senator had withdrawn.
That spelled the end of the MAGA campaign to upend an election and Pence went on to read out the results of the Electoral College: Biden 306, Trump 232.
But he managed to avoid saying ‘Joe Biden is the winner’ or similar words – a minor softening of the blow to Trump by the deputy who had been until this week perhaps his most devoted follower.
‘To those who wreaked havoc in our capitol today, you did not win,’ Pence said after lawmakers returned to their seats. ‘Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.’
The vice president, who chaired the special joint session as provided under the Constitution, called it a ‘dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.’
‘But thanks to the swift efforts of the U.S. Capitol Police, federal, state and local law enforcement, the violence was quelled. The Capitol is secured and the people’s work continues,’ Pence said.
But astonishingly – and to the disgust of Republicans including Mitt Romney and every Democrat – some Republicans continued their doomed bid to overturn the election result.
The most senior was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who claimed that persisting was proof that Congress was not cowed by violence. And Josh Hawley, the Missouri senator who gave a clenched fist salute to the mob before it stormed the Capitol, also refused to back down even as other senators who had planned to object abandoned the campaign.
‘Americans go to bed tonight their lasting memory should not be a congress overrun by rioters. It must be a resolute Congress, conducting healthy debate,’ McCarthy said.
‘We may not disagree on a lot in America but tonight, we must show the world that we will respectfully, but thoroughly carry out the most basic duties of democracy, we will continue with the task that we have been sent here to do.
‘We will follow the Constitution and the law and the process for hearing valid concerns about election integrity. We’ll do it with respect.’
A protester is pinned down by police outside the Capitol as demonstrators breached security and rampaged into the building
The president’s loyalists waved flags proclaiming a lost cause – the 2020 election, which was won by Joe Biden
Sen. Josh Hawley, who was the first senator who pledged to back a House GOP effort to object to certain states’ Electoral College vote counts, refused to abandon the effort entirely
Sen Ted Cruz looks on as the certification proceedings continue despite objections by him and other Republicans
Sen. Hawley, who was the first senator who pledged to back a House GOP effort to object to certain states’ Electoral College vote counts, refused to abandon the effort entirely.
The Missouri Republican argued that the Senate floor was the appropriate place to address any election fraud concerns – as opposed to a violent riot.
Pence ordered National Guard to the Capitol after Trump ‘resisted’
Mike Pence made the call to activate the National Guard after Trump supporters ran wild in the Capitol Building, it has been revealed.
Acting Pentagon chief Christopher Miller revealed that he spoke to Pence and not Trump, the Commander in Chief, before sending in the Guard to clear out rioters.
Maggie Haberman, the New York Times’s White House correspondent, later revealed that Trump had ‘rebuffed and resisted’ attempts to call in the guard before ‘White House advisers’ intervened to get the move approved.
Meanwhile White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien praised Pence’s courage for certifying the state election results – a typically routine task that was thrust under the spotlight after Trump falsely suggested that Pence had the power to reject the result and declare him the victor.
‘I just spoke with Vice President Pence. He is a genuinely fine and decent man. He exhibited courage today as he did at the Capitol on 9/11 as a Congressman. I am proud to serve with him,’ wrote O’Brien.
‘Violence is not how you achieve change,’ Hawley said. ‘And that’s why I submit to my colleagues that what we’re doing here tonight is actually very important. Because of those who have concerns about the integrity of our elections … this is the appropriate means, this is the lawful place, where those objections and concerns should be heard.’
He said he hoped the Senate could address concerns ‘peacefully, without violence, without attacks, without bullets.’
Hawley also used the Arizona debate to complain about Pennsylvania, correctly foreseeing that there would be no full debate about that state’s results.
‘And so Mr. President let me just say now, that briefly, in lieu of speaking about it later, a word about Pennsylvania – this is a state that I have been focused on, objected to,’ Hawley said.
He then went on to complain that the state set-up ‘universal mail-in balloting.’
‘And did it irregardless of what the Pennsylvania Constitution says,’ Hawley said, using the improper word for regardless.
The senator then objected to how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made its decision, holding up the law that allowed for enhanced mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic.
Directly after Hawley spoke, Sen. Mitt Romney applauded those senators, like Loeffler and Lankford, who had abandoned Hawley and the ‘dirty dozen’s’ effort.
‘The best way we can show respect to the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth,’ Romney implored.
And the truth, he said, was ‘President-Elect Biden won the election. President Trump lost.’
‘I’ve had that experience myself, it’s no fun,’ Romney said, a reference to losing the 2012 presidential election to Democratic President Barack Obama.
As he concluded, Romney was given a standing ovation by some senators – but not by Hawley, who was sitting directly in front of him.
McConnell, who earlier chastised members of his own party who planned to file objections to the Electoral College vote count, proclaimed, ‘The United States Senate will not be intimidated.’ Pence’s condemnation was followed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, with Schumer – a New York Democrat – placing the blame squarely on Trump
An armed security agent tries to maintain order in the Capitol during what Joe Biden described as an ‘insurrection’
Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6
As 2 am neared, Rep Conor Lamb, a Pennsylvania Democrat who represents the Pittsburgh area, unloaded on the Republicans who objected to the vote from his state.
Lamb first read from the speech he had planned to give pre-riot, including that Allegheny County’s vote-counting operation had ’31 video cameras!’ he said, raising his voice.
‘These objections don’t deserve an ounce of respect. Not an ounce,’ he then said.
‘A woman died out there tonight and you’re making these objections,’ Lamb went on. ‘Let’s be clear about what happened in this chamber today: invaders came in for the first time since the War of 1812.’
Lamb nodded over in the direction of a group of his Republican colleagues.
‘We know that that attack today, it didn’t materialize out of nowhere. It was inspired by lies, the same lies you’re hearing in this room tonight, and the members who are repeating those lies should be ashamed of themselves,’ Lamb said. ‘Their constituents should be ashamed of them.’
Rep. Morgan Griffith shouted to have Lamb’s comments struck from the record.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveled his request down, later explaining that he wasn’t quick enough, saying it needed to happen ‘exactly when the words are spoken.’
Nearby, a scuffle among lawmakers nearly broke out involving Rep. Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican, and Rep. Colin Allred, a Texas Democrat, according to Capitol Hill reporters.
Allred is a former professional football player.
As 2 am neared, Rep Conor Lamb (pictured), a Pennsylvania Democrat who represents the Pittsburgh area, unloaded on the Republicans who objected to the vote from his state
Speaker Nancy Pelosi reopened the House of Representatives Wednesday night with a vow to stay as long as it takes to certify the election and Joe Biden’s victory.
‘Congress has returned to the Capitol,’ she said seven hours after the chamber was closed because rioters were trying to breach its doors. ‘We always knew that this responsibility would take us into the night, and will stay as long as it takes. Our purpose will be accomplished. We must and we will show to the country.’
‘We know that we’re in difficult times, but little could we have imagined the assault, that was made on our democracy,’ she said in reference to the pro-Trump insurgents who tried to stop the Joint Session.
She said it was the duty of lawmakers to show the world ‘the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next.’
Shortly before all House members were evacuated around 2.30pm, Capitol Police approached Pelosi, who was presiding over the chamber from the speaker’s rostrum, telling her she had to leave.
Pelosi didn’t make a fuss and turned over her duties to House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern.
He told reporters on Capitol Hill that she whispered ‘thank you’ and handed him the gavel as she was led away.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., presides over the House Chamber after they reconvened
Some Republican senators backed down from the original plan to object after pro-Trump insurgents rushed the Capitol.
But House Republican Leader McCarthy said it was lawmakers’ duty to conduct ‘healthy debate’ and to hear ‘valid concerns about election integrity.’
WHO’S STILL IN TRUMP’S CAMP?
Marjorie Taylor Greene
‘When Americans go to bed tonight their lasting memory should not be a Congress overrun by rioters. It must be a resolute Congress, conducting healthy debate. We may not disagree on a lot in America but tonight, we must show the world that we will respectfully, but thoroughly carry out the most basic duties of democracy, we will continue with the task that we have been sent here to do. We will follow the Constitution and the law and the process for hearing valid concerns about election integrity. We’ll do it with respect,’ he said on the House floor after the chamber reopened.
But he also condemned the rioters.
‘We saw the worst of America this afternoon,’ he said.
McCarthy also warned lawmakers to think twice about what they post on social media. Posts by Republicans, including President Trump, falsely stating the election was rigged and fraudulent were believed to have contributed to inciting the mob that ran sacked the Capitol.
‘We also should think for a moment about what do we put on social media,’ he said. ‘Just because you have a personal opinion different than mine, you have a right to say it, but nobody has a right to become a mob. And we all should stand united to condemning them all together.’
Pence’s condemnation was followed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, with Schumer – a New York Democrat – placing the blame squarely on Trump.
‘Today’s events would certainly not have happened without him,’ Schumer said.
McConnell, who earlier chastised members of his own party who planned to file objections to the Electoral College vote count, proclaimed, ‘The United States Senate will not be intimidated.’
‘Will not be kept out of its chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. We will not bend for lawlessness or intimidation,’ the Kentucky Republican said.
He said senators would discharge their Constitutional duty – to certify the results of the presidential race.
‘And we’re going to do it tonight,’ McConnell said.
The Kentucky Republican proclaimed, ‘Criminal behavior will never dominate the United States Congress.’
Schumer followed, admitting that he didn’t quite have the words to describe what happened Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
‘I have never lived through, or even imagined the experience like the one we have just witnessed in this Capitol,’ he said. ‘This temple to democracy was desecrated, its windows smashed, our offices vandalized.’
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., stops to look at damage in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday
Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., helps ATF police officers (special highly trained officers) clean up debris and personal belongings strewn across the floor of the Rotunda in the early morning hours of Thursday after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, DC, on Wednesday
Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC
Lawmakers cower in fear as protesters try to break down the doors of the House Chamber on Wednesday
He spoke of the woman who was shot during the riots, who has since died of her injuries.
‘We mourn her and feel for her friends and family,’ Schumer said.
‘This will be a stain on our country not so easily washed away,’ he added.
And the soon-to-be majority leader, after Democrats were successful in both Georgia Senate run-off races, pointed a finger at Trump, calling the day’s events the ‘final terrible indelible legacy of the 45th president of the United States.’
‘Undoubtedly our worst,’ Schumer argued.
‘Today’s events did not happen spontaneously, the president who promoted conspiracy theories, who motivated these thugs, a president who exhorted them to come to our United States capitol, egged them on, who hardly ever discourages violence. This president deals a great deal of the blame,’ Schumer said.
He said that those responsible for overtaking the capitol could not be called ‘protesters.’
‘These were rioters and insurrectionist goons and thugs, domestic terrorists,’ Schumer said. ‘They do not represent America
Senate Majority Leader spoke immediately after Pence to declare that the chamber would not be intimidated by ‘thugs.’
McConnell found himself denouncing Trump’s bid to overturn the election for the second time in a day, after earlier delivering a strong speech blasting the effort by members of his own caucus seeking to throw out electors in states that went for Joe Biden.
Wednesday night, after Trump supporters breached hallways that McConnell has walked for decades on ‘unhinged’ invaders – without mentioning that it was President Trump who encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol.
Nevertheless, he eviscerated the Trump backers who ran wild inside the chamber.
‘The United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation,’ vowed McConnell.
‘We are back at our post. We will discharge our duty under the Constitution and for our nation.
And we’re going to do it tonight,’ said McConnell.
The Kentucky Republican proclaimed, ‘Criminal behavior will never dominate the United States Congress.’ Schumer followed, admitting that he didn’t quite have the words to describe what happened Wednesday on Capitol Hill
Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the president’s top allies in the Senate, threw water on the objectors’ efforts recalling how in 1876 three southern states – South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida – sent two slates of electors to Congress, in a bid to end Reconstruction after the Civil War
His words were both strengthened and undercut by his close association with Trump’s tenure: McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao serves as Trump’s Transportation secretary. McConnell spent weeks without denouncing Trump’s unsubstantiated claims the election was rigged. And it was in partnership with Trump that he achieved his life’s goal of stacking the judiciary with conservative jurists.
He spoke with contempt towards the mob who invaded the Capitol, saying the country had ‘faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today.’
Among Republicans bailing on the plan to contest the results was Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, known as an institutionalist before he signed onto the effort by Sen. Ted Cruz
‘We’ve never been deterred before and we’ll be not deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed,’ he intoned.
He called it a ‘failed insurrection’ and said it ‘only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our republic.’
‘Now we’re going to finish exactly what we started,’ said McConnell. ‘We’ll complete the process in the right way: by the book.’
He said the Senate would follow its precedents and laws and Constitution ‘to the letter.’
‘And we will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election,’ he said forcefully. ‘Criminal behavior will never dominate the United States Congress. This institution is resilient. Our democratic republic is strong. The American people deserve nothing less,’ he said.
Among Republicans bailing on the plan to contest the results was Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, known as an institutionalist before he signed onto the effort by Sen. Ted Cruz.
‘Why in god’s name would someone think attacking law enforcement occupying United States Capitol is the best way to show that you’re right? Why would you do that?’ he asked.
‘Rioters and thugs don’t run the capitol we’re the United States of America. We disagree on a lot of things and we have a lot of spirited debate in this room. But we talk it out and we honor each other.
Lankford had been on the Senate floor defending the opposition to votes in states Biden won when officials evacuated the chamber and locked down the Capitol.
‘I was literally interrupted mid-sentence speaking here. Because we’re all aware of what was happening right outside this room,’ he said, praising law enforcement who protected the Capitol.
Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who lost her race in the early hours Wednesday to Democratic Rev. Raphael Warnock, announced that she would no longer be filing objections to Electoral College votes
He quickly bowed to the new reality.
‘Obviously the commission that we’ve asked for is not going to happen at this point and I understand that and we’re headed towards tonight towards the certification of Joe Biden to be the president of the United States,’ he said. Cruz and his compatriots wanted a special commission to investigate electoral fraud claims tossed out of courts over a ten-day period.
‘And we will work together in this body to be able to send peaceful example in the days ahead,’ he concluded.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the president’s top allies in the Senate, threw water on the objectors’ efforts recalling how in 1876 three southern states – South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida – sent two slates of electors to Congress, in a bid to end Reconstruction after the Civil War.
‘It led to Jim Crow,’ Graham said. ‘If you’re looking for historical guidance, this is not the one to pick.’
The South Carolina Republican also said that a forming a commission to look into fraud wouldn’t change minds.
‘Having a commission chosen by Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell and John Roberts is not going to get you to where you want to go, it ain’t going to work,’ Graham said. ‘It’s not going to do any good, it’s going to delay and it gives credibility to a dark chapter of our history.’
Graham maintained Trump was a ‘consequential president.’
‘But today … all I can say is count me out, enough is enough, I’ve tried to be helpful.’
Graham praised Pence, telling him: ‘what they’re asking you to do, you won’t do, because you can’t.’
Trump has pressured Pence to choose between Electoral College votes and ‘alternate’ slates of electors, which the vice president doesn’t have the power to do.
Graham also mentioned how he had traveled the world with Biden, when they served together in the Senate.
‘I prayed he would lose,’ Graham said. ‘He’s the legitimate president of the United States.’
Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who lost her race in the early hours Wednesday to Democratic Rev. Raphael Warnock, announced that she would no longer be filing objections to Electoral College votes.
‘When I arrived in Washington this morning, I fully intended to object to the certification of the electoral votes,’ she said. ‘However, the events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider and I cannot now, in good conscience, object.’
Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, also announced that he no longer supported senators filing objections.
The newly minted Sen. Roger Marshall, a Kansas Republican, who had joined Sen. Ted Cruz’s ‘dirty dozen,’ seemed to still back the effort in his debut floor speech.
‘We must restore faith and confidence in one of our republic’s most hallowed and patriotic duties: voting,’ Marshall said.
Marshall said he backed the creation of an electoral commission to give states to constructive suggestions’ going forward, due to the ‘jarring irregularities’ he claimed took place in the 2020 race.
It’s unclear if Marshall would back additional challenges in states going forward, as the Senate’s discussion was only focused on Electoral College votes in Arizona.
Police spray tear gas at a protester who picked up a police barricade in an effort to get closer to the Capitol
Members of congress run for cover as protesters try to enter the House Chamber
A protester walks through Congress carrying Nancy Pelosi’s lectern after storming the Capitol
Republican Congressman Thomas Reed announced he is against the GOP objections to the certification, earning a round of applause from Democrats.
Reed walked to the Democratic side of the House to speak about his opposition, citing the day’s violence in the Capitol as the reason.
‘We settle our differences through elections,’ he said, denouncing the ‘mob rule’ that took place earlier in the afternoon.
‘What we see tonight in this body shall be what we do in America. And that is to transfer power in a peaceful way,’ he said as Democrats gave him a standing ovation.
Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, a top Trump ally on Capitol Hill, pushed a conspiracy theory that some of the mob that raided the Capitol were members of Antifa, who are opposed to fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology. President Trump has tried to label Antifa as a terrorist group but they a political philosophy. There is no evidence they were involved in Wednesday’s insurrection.
Gaetz cited the conservative newspaper The Washington Times when he spoke on the House floor to defend Republican objections to the electoral college votes in some states won by Biden.
‘The Washington Times has just reported, some pretty compelling evidence from a facial recognition company, showing that some of the people who breached the Capitol today, were not Trump supporters, they were masquerading as Trump supporters, and in fact, we’re members of the violet terrorist group Antifa,’ he said as Democrats loudly booed him.
Gaetz, a frequent guest at Trump’s Florida residence Mar-a-Lago, also defended the president, who was criticized by many, including members of the Republican Party, for his lackluster response to the riots.
‘Another important point for the country is that this morning President Trump explicitly called for demonstrations and protests to be peaceful,’ Gaetz said.
Trump, in tweets, did say the protesters should be peaceful but he didn’t call for them to stand down and leave the Capitol.
Democrats booed Gaetz as he spoke, which he acknowledged: ‘You can moan and groan but he was far more explicit about his calls for peace than some of the BLM and left wing writers were this summer, when we saw violence sweep across this nation.’
Gaetz also got in a dig at liberal Democrats, who have called to defund the police.
‘I’m sure glad that at least for one day, I didn’t hear my Democratic colleagues calling to defund the police,’ he said as his Republican colleagues cheered.
Members of Congress are pictured rushing to evacuate the House Chamber as protesters attempted to enter
National Guard members line up on the Capitol grounds as protesters continue occupying the area after curfew
The mostly maskless crowd flooded the halls of the Capitol with little resistance from Capitol Police
The DC National Guard was deployed to the streets to help enforce a 6pm curfew
Trump – after remaining silent for much of the afternoon – posted a video telling his ‘very special’ supporters inside the Capitol that he loves them and understands their pain but urged them ‘to go home’.
He had initially encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol after a rally earlier in the afternoon before asking them only to remain peaceful when violence broke out.
The Capitol was briefly secured before being placed on lockdown again at around 6.45pm due to an ‘internal security threat’ after an officer was reportedly found unconscious. Anyone inside a building at the Capitol complex was instructed to take cover in an office with doors locked.
But just before 8pm lawmakers who had been whisked to safety when the siege kicked off began arriving back at the Capitol to resume the Joint Session to certify the Electoral College count of the presidential election.
The lawmakers were seen flanked by armed guards as they made their way into the Capitol. A spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence, who is residing over the Joint Session, said he was already in the building because he’d never left.
As the protesters broke down police barricades and stormed into the Capitol, lawmakers cowering inside the House Chamber were told to put on gas masks as tear gas was fired in the Rotunda. Officers at the front door of the chamber had their guns drawn at a protester trying to break down the door.
The Capitol was placed on lockdown again at around 6.45pm due to an ‘internal security threat’ after an officers was reportedly found unconscious. Anyone inside a building at the Capitol complex was instructed to take cover in an office with doors locked
For those fleeing, it was a race against time: Protesters were getting in as quickly as members of Congress could get out.
One protester occupied the Senate dais and yelled: ‘Trump won that election’. Some protesters even occupied Pelosi’s office, sitting mockingly at a desk.
The chaotic scenes unfolded soon after Trump addressed thousands of his supporters and urged them to march to the Capitol. The protesters organized via far-right social media sites, including Gab and Parler, telling each other the best routes to avoid police on their way to the Capitol.
After protesters started clashing with law enforcement, Trump tweeted to his supporters to ‘stay peaceful’.
‘Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!’ the president wrote.
As the violence escalated, Trump tweeted: ‘I am asking for everyone at the U.S. 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 did not initially tell the protesters to leave.
Biden on Wednesday evening called for the restoration of ‘simple decency’ after the mob delayed Congress from certifying the results of November’s election.
‘At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times,’ Biden said. He called it ‘an assault on the rule of law like few times we have ever seen it.’
‘I call on this mob to pull back and allow democracy to go forward.
In an address that took less than 10 minutes and was televised against a split screen of the still-occupied Capitol building, Biden attempted to project calm and to say that a deeply divided country can still come together – while also expressing outrage.
He stopped short of accusing Trump of treason but said the events ‘bordered on sedition’.
‘At their best, the words of a president can inspire,’ Biden added. ‘At their worst they can incite.’
Minutes after Biden’s address, Trump posted his own video telling his mob of supporters that he ‘loves’ them, but to ‘go home’. In the same breath he also continued to peddle his baseless claims that the ‘election was stolen’.
‘There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us – from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people,’ he said.
‘We have to have peace. So, go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace.’
The video was later removed by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube because it violated their policies.
The president then posted another tweet reiterating his false claim that the election was stolen and encouraging supporters to ‘remember this day’. The tweet was perceived by some as an attempt to rile up the Capitol crowds.
‘These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,’ he tweeted. ‘Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!’
Twitter removed the tweet for violating its rules.
Mob smashes through police barriers and wall of tear gas to stop Biden’s victory being certified: How Trump protesters turned Congress into a battlefield
Capitol Police used tear gas as hundreds of people were seen climbing the marble steps outside the building. They banged on the locked doors of the Capitol and smashed the glass in the doors.
Demonstrators fought with police and then forced their way into the building.
Asked how so many people were able to get in, officials said they were focusing their attention on keeping lawmakers inside safe.
‘We love you. You are special.’ Trump finally addresses Capitol mob HE unleashed and says ‘Go home now. We have to have peace’
Donald Trump told his mob of supporters that he ‘loves’ them, but to ‘go home’ after they rampaged past police barriers to storm the U.S. Capitol.
But despite calling for his supporters to stand down, he continued to peddle the baseless claims that the ‘election was stolen’ in a video posted to Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
‘There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us – from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people.
‘We have to have peace. So, go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace,’ Trump said.
It came hours after Trump stirred them into a frenzy at his ‘Stop the Steal’ rally, telling them to march on the U.S. Capitol.
The president still has not conceded the election and earlier Wednesday addressed a crowd at the ellipse spouting conspiracy theories that he still had a path to win – if Vice President Mike Pence did his bidding, as well as if GOP lawmakers revolted.
Pence did no such thing.
The chaotic scenes unfolded soon after Trump addressed thousands of protesters and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol. After protesters started clashing with law enforcement following the Capitol breach, Trump tweeted to his supporters to ‘stay peaceful’
The officers did not appear to try to block the stampede, instead walking with it toward the building.
One protester jumped up on the dais, where the president of the Senate presides, and yelled: ‘Trump won that election.’
Several dozen protesters roamed the halls of the Capitol, yelling: ‘Where are they?’
Tear gas was being used by Capitol Police as protesters filled both the House and Senate side of the Capitol.
Another protester in the Senate yelled: ‘Where’s Pence, show yourself!’
The chaos caused the Capitol to go on lockdown and disrupted the certification of the electoral college vote that would cement Biden’s victory.
Mayor Bowser declared a 6pm curfew for the city and said multiple law enforcement agencies would be patrolling the streets. Just before the curfew went into effect she was asked multiple by times by CNN if curfew violators would be arrested, but she refused to give a clear answer.
Bowser said ‘many’ arrests had already been made but did not have a specific number.
As footage started coming out of Capitol Hill being breached by angry Trump supporters, Donald Trump Jr tried to quell the outburst with a tweet – that was critical of Democrats and liberals.
‘This is wrong and not who we are. Be peaceful and use your 1st Amendment rights, but don’t start acting like the other side,’ Trump Jr. wrote. ‘We have a country to save and this doesn’t help anyone.’
Meanwhile, the president continued to direct his rage at Pence, who earlier announced he would not single-handedly overturn the election results from his position of the chair.
‘Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!’ the president tweeted.
The extraordinary breech was a departure from security mishaps of the past. Protesters have routinely disrupted televised hearings while in progress and even events inside the House chamber. But trained Capitol Police are usually able to arrest disruptors and remove them immediately. Often formal charges are never filed.
But in Wednesday’s storming of the building, dozens of people made it by armed police officers and entered the building without going through any security set up to keep out those with weapons or dangerous items.
There were occasions after September 11th when the building was placed on lockdown and people were ordered to leave, but this usually happened when suspicious packages were discovered.
When the building is open, as it was before the pandemic, members of the general public are not allowed to walk unescorted on the second floor where lawmakers enter and exit the legislative chambers.
The protesters were aided by scaffolding constructed for the upcoming inauguration.
In another tense piece of video from inside, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) tweeted video of protesters repeatedly rushing Capitol Police officers in the crypt, in the ground floor part of the building under the rotunda.
‘I like many people voted for President Trump in the 2020 election and hoped for a different result,’ McCaul wrote. ‘But violence and destruction is not the way to express your grievances. This is disgraceful and has to end.’
Trump supporters stand in the Capitol before storming the House Chamber on Wednesday afternoon
Leigh Ann Luck dressed up as Statue of Liberty shouts as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather
A wall of Trump supporters are seen outside the Capitol before crowds breached barriers and stormed inside
Several windows inside the Capitol were shattered during Wednesday’s chaos at the Capitol
Police deploy a stream of tear gas a protesters occupying the Capitol grounds on Wednesday
A woman is pushed into an ambulance near the Capitol on Wednesday evening
Trump’s mob causes chaos nationwide: MAGA fans take to the streets in California, Oregon, New Mexico and Kansas and surround Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office
As the US Capitol was stormed, Trump supporters staged smaller rallies outside statehouses in several cities, including Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.
Protesters swarmed into the Kansas statehouse in Topeka and gathered inside the first floor of the Capitol Rotunda, though the rally remained orderly, television station KSNT reported.
There were no immediate reports of violence, despite the flurry of demonstrations by pro-Trump demonstrators echoing his baseless claims that he was robbed of a re-election victory due to voter fraud.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said on Twitter that he had instructed city agencies to close municipal offices early in Colorado’s state capital ‘out of an abundance of caution’ after about 700 demonstrators gathered at the statehouse downtown.
‘My hope is that this situation will be resolved quickly. Pray for our nation,’ he tweeted.
A major courthouse complex and two other government buildings in Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, were also ordered closed due to protests near the statehouse.
Among those whose daily routines were altered were aides to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, the Republican election official pressured by Trump in a weekend telephone call to ‘find’ enough additional votes for the president to overturn the November victory of President-elect Joe Biden, due to take office in two weeks.
Raffensperger’s spokesman, Walter Jones, said staff left their offices after lunch out of an abundance of caution because of protests. He said Raffensperger was not in the office at the time.
In Salt Lake City, Dana Jones, director of the state Capitol Preservation Board, said she had asked building staff to work from home on Wednesday afternoon on the advice of the Utah Highway Patrol and public safety commissioner, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
The precaution was taken, the newspaper said, in response to a crowd of about 250 pro-Trump demonstrators who posted signs on the Capitol building that read: ‘Stop the steal!’ and ‘Trump won!’
A Utah state police spokesman said security had been beefed up at the Capitol, though he said protesters there were ‘very peaceful,’ the Tribune reported. It said one of its photographers was pepper-sprayed by individuals upset that he was documenting their protest.
Several hundred Trump supporters also staged a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally at the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix, cheering and jeering while exhibiting a guillotine.
MISSOURI: Armed men stand on the steps at the State Capitol after a rally in support of President Donald Trump
ATLANTA: The crowd consisted of around 25 people, some of whom were carrying assault rifles
LA: Christian Angelo Hill, 19, a Black Lives Matter supporter, reacts after being sprayed with an unknown substance during a rally held by U.S. President Donald Trump supporters
OREGON: Protesters hold a rally in support of U.S. President Donald Trump at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem
TEXAS: Jack Finger, of San Antonio, protests the election with supporters of President Donald Trump Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Austin
ATLANTA: Georgia Capitol Police escorted Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger (above) and his staff out of the building shortly before 3pm
‘I won’t betray my oath’: Pence publicly defies Trump’s demand to block Biden’s confirmation
Trump told thousands of supporters just outside the White House that he wanted Pence to ‘come through’ for us and demanded that he reject electoral votes out of hand over that the president claims is ‘fraud.’
He threatened Pence saying ‘I’m not hearing good stories’ and telling him to have ‘courage’ to strike down swing states’ votes – a move which would defy the constitution.
But minutes before arriving on Capitol Hill to preside over the joint session of Congress to certify the election’s outcome, Pence bluntly told lawmakers that he would refuse to obey Trump’s orders.
Pence sent a letter to the 535 senators and representatives on Capitol Hill ahead of his presiding over the Joint Session that will certify Joe Biden’s victory.
In it, he outlined his belief in his role in the proceedings, which he notes is ‘ceremonial’ and adds that it doesn’t include the authority to ‘determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.’
Trump has tried to put the blame on Pence for his expected loss on Wednesday but the president also lacks support among the majority of senators in his own party, which dooms his efforts for a congressional overthrow of the results.
Pence acknowledged Trump’s allegations the election was rigged, of which there has been no proof and no court has upheld, in a likely peace offering to the president.
‘I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of this election,’ he wrote.
In a letter Wednesday, Pence said, ‘It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution contains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not’
But he noted as vice president he does not have the power from the constitution to decide which electoral votes are counted and which are not.
‘As a student of history who loves the constitution and reveres its Framers, I do not believe that the Founds of our country intended to invest the vice president with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress and no Vice President in American history has ever asserted such authority,’ Pence noted.
He added vice presidents in the past have conducted ‘the proceedings in an orderly manner even where the count resulted in the defeat of their party or their own candidacy’.
‘It is my considered judgement that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,’ he said.
He concluded his letter with a prayer to God: ‘When the Joint Session of Congress convenes today, I will do my duty to see to it that we open the certificates of electors of the several states, we hear objections raised by Senators and Representatives, and we count the votes of the Electoral College for President and Vice President in a manner consistent with our Constitution, laws and history. So Help Me God.’
Pelosi reminded lawmakers that only 11 members from each party were allowed on the House floor at a time due to social distancing. She called out Republicans for having too many lawmakers on the floor
‘The law says voter registration ends on October 5. Democrats said we don’t care what the law says they went to a court got an Obama appointed judge to extend in 18 days,’ Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, a top Trump ally on Capitol Hill, complained of Arizona
Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over the debate. She sanitized the gavel before she used it. Pence had used it when he presided over the Joint Session
REPUBLICANS OBJECT TO ARIZONA’S VOTES
When the certification process got underway shortly after 1pm Wednesday, lawmakers got through Alabama and Alaska, two states that went for Trump, before the first objection was filed for Arizona.
Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, objected to his state’s Electoral College votes going to Biden and Harris. He confirmed that his objection had been signed on to by a US senator.
Democrats in the chamber audibly groaned while droves of Republicans in the chamber stood up and clapped.
The move forced Pence to order the houses out of Joint Session. The senators in the House chamber started moving back toward their side of the US Capitol.
On the House side, during their debate on the Arizona objection, Republican lawmakers used their time to complain about the treatment of the president, particularly the impeachment process and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
They did not offer any proof of voter fraud but complained that voter laws were changed ahead of the November contest, which is not illegal.
‘The law says voter registration ends on October 5. Democrats said we don’t care what the law says they went to a court got an Obama appointed judge to extend in 18 days,’ Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, a top Trump ally on Capitol Hill, complained of Arizona.
Many states had their voter registration deadlines extended because of the coronavirus pandemic – the extension applied to voters of both parties. Other states extended the time period allowing mail-in voting, again because of the pandemic and it applied to all voters.
Democrats argued the election was legally conducted.
‘Under some of the most trying circumstances in our history, our fellow citizens conducted a free and fair election vindicating our founders belief once again that we were capable of self government, and a peaceful transition of power,’ Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff said.
Speaker Pelosi presided over the debate. She sanitized the gavel before she used it. Pence had used it when he presided over the Joint Session.
Pelosi also reminded lawmakers that only 11 members from each party were allowed on the House floor at a time due to social distancing. She called out Republicans for having too many lawmakers on the floor.
MITCH MCCONNELL SLAMS ELECTION ‘CONSPIRACY THEORIES’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shamed Trump and his own Republican colleagues for mounting challenges to the Electoral College vote count, saying their doing so could lead to a ‘death spiral’ of American democracy – and pointing out there’s no real evidence of widespread voter fraud.
‘We’re debating a step that has never been taken in American history, whether Congress should overrule the voters and overturn a presidential election,’ he said on the Senate floor, after Rep Gosar and a batch of GOP senators, including Sen Ted Cruz, objected to Arizona’s Electoral College vote count.
McConnell ridiculed Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in a five-minute speech, which will be one of his last as majority leader, and which he said was about the most important vote of his career.
‘The assertions range from specific, local allegations to Constitutional arguments to sweeping conspiracy theories,’ McConnell said.
He reminded senators that he was supportive of Trump using the country’s legal system, which handed the president and his team loss after loss. And pointed out that these cases were heard by some of the ‘all-star judges whom the president himself nominated’ – including on the U.S. Supreme Court.
McConnell said that every election is plagued by some instances of vote irregularity. ‘And of course that’s unacceptable,’ he said.
McConnell ridiculed President Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in a five-minute speech which will be one of his last as majority leader – and which he said was about the most important vote of his career
The top Senate Republican also said he supported ‘strong state-led voting reforms,’ adding that he didn’t wan tto see ‘last year’s bizarre pandemic procedures’ – like mail-in ballots that gave Democrats an edge – ‘become the new norm.’
‘But my colleagues nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale, the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election,’ McConnell argued. ‘Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break, when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.’
He pointed out that the Constitution gives Congress a ‘limited role.’
‘We simply can’t declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids,’ McConnell said.
Twisting the knife into Trump, McConnell also pointed out that the race between Biden and Trump ‘was not unusually close.’
‘The Electoral College margin was almost identical to what it was in 2016,’ McConnell pointed out.
‘If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side our democracy would enter a death spiral,’ McConnell warned. ‘We’d never see a whole nation accept an election again.’
‘Every four years there would be a scramble for power at any cost,’ he added.
TRUMP’S STOP THE STEAL RALLY
This came after Trump excoriated ‘weak’ Republicans and demanded fealty from Pence to a rally crowd near the White House on Wednesday, where he demanded Pence and Congress overturn the election results that lead to his defeat.
In an extraordinary speech, Trump once again called his election ‘rigged’ just minutes before a joint meeting of Congress was to begin counting the certified electoral votes that have him losing to Joe Biden.
Trump referred to votes that came in after 10pm election night – which consisted of in-person and mail-in ballots and denied him the lead he said he and his pollsters anticipated – as ‘these explosions of bullsh*t.’
Members of the crowd immediately chanted ‘Bullshi*t!’ in response.
‘Our election was over at 10 in the evening,’ Trump said.
Trump mocked his party’s 2012 Republican presidential nominee, now-Sen. Mitt Romney, for conceded his own race back then.
‘We will never concede. It doesn’t happen,’ he said – although losing candidates have conceded for generations. ‘There’s never been anything like this. It’s a pure theft.’
Trump’s comments amounted to a declaration of war on elements of his party, after his lawyer Rudy Giuliani demanded ‘trial by combat’ against opponents of his claims of election fraud.
Trump spoke to a crowd of several thousand – but referred to them as consisting of ‘hundreds of thousands’ of supporters fathered on a lawn south of the White House that doesn’t hold that many.
He said his election was ‘stolen by the fake news media. That’s what they’ve done and that’s what they’re doing.’
Trump addressed his thousands of his supporters near the White House Wednesday at his ‘Save America’ rally and declared war on his own party, calling Republicans who opposed him ‘weak’
Hours after a humiliating defeat in one Georgia Senate race and the prospect of losing another, Team Trump showed no sign of conceding
A stand was being erected at the base of the US Capitol as a pro-Trump supporter holds a flag, hours before Congress meets to certify the electoral college vote for Biden
A crowd of Trump supporters started gathering outside of the White House for a rally on Wednesday
He urged his supporters to march down to the Congress, which was to commence the count at 1 pm.
‘We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,’ he said, speaking from behind a pane of bullet-proof material.
He turned up the heat on Pence, a potential 2024 contender who will preside over the count. His role is set in the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act, and is largely ceremonial.
‘Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution,’ he said.
Trump acknowledged that he has tried to pressure Pence into rejecting votes from states he lost, quoting from a conversation he has denied happened.
‘All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to re-certify and we become president and you are the happiest people,’ he told his fans, who cheered ‘Stop the Steal!’ at times.
‘I said Mike, that doesn’t take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage. And then we’re stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot and we have to live with that,’ he said of Biden.