WASHINGTON — The nation’s lawmakers took to their electoral duties late Wednesday amid broken glass and smashed doors in the Capitol, following an historic day of havoc wrought by pro-Trump rioters who breached the building in hope of thwarting Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
At least one of the rioters, an Air Force vet from California who tweeted a day earlier how “nothing will stop us” and “the storm is here,” was shot dead during the uprising.
Lawmakers in both chambers took turns offering somber words Wednesday night reflecting on the day’s maelstrom and urging members to certify the presidential electoral votes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress had faced a « failed insurrection. »
Thousands of protesters had gathered at the National Mall Wednesday to protest the election results. At a campaign-style rally about an hour before the protesters broke through police lines at the Capitol, Trump had urged them to go to the building. The rioters headed to Capitol Hill after hearing Trump’s remarks, Washington Police chief Robert J. Contee III said.
Hundreds of people broke into the building and filtered through Statuary Hall. Some entered the Senate chamber and faced off with police at the door to the House chamber.
Trump later tweeted asking protesters to « stay peaceful » and taped a video urging them to go home and advocating for law and order while referring to « a fraudulent election » that « was stolen from us. » President-elect Joe Biden had called for Trump to go on national TV and demand an end to « this siege, » adding, « It’s not protest, it’s insurrection. »
The Washington, D.C., National Guard was mobilized to support local law enforcement, and, by late afternoon, 13 people – all from outside the area – had been arrested. As a 6 p.m. ET curfew took effect, police in riot gear stood outside the Capitol and held protesters at bay. Police used tear gas and percussion grenades to disperse the mob.
As a 6 p.m. ET curfew took effect, police in riot gear stood outside the Capitol and held protesters at bay, having secured the premises a few hours after rioters broke in through smashed windows and climbed to the building’s balconies. Police used tear gas and percussion grenades to disperse the mob.
Trump has unsuccessfully tried to overturn election results in six battleground states through dozens of failed lawsuits, falsely claiming the election was stolen despite no evidence of widespread fraud. Although several Republican legislators indicated they would object to the certification of electoral votes for Biden, the campaign lacks the votes needed to overturn the results.
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- Stephanie Grisham, First Lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff and a former press secretary to the president, resigned Wednesday.
- Twitter has locked Trump’s account for at least 12 hours and warned that future violations of its rules will lead to permanent suspension.
- Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the chamber, said Wednesday’s riots in the U.S. Capitol would « live forever in infamy » along with other watershed events in American history.
- The FBI said two « suspected explosive devices were rendered safe » after being found on the protest premises by federal and local investigators.
- By Wednesday afternoon, Army Gen. Mark Milley said the D.C. National Guard had been fully activated « to assist federal and local law enforcement as they work to peacefully address the situation. »
- Pro-Trump protests erupted at statehouses in Oregon, Minnesota, Kansas, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa and New Mexico, while in Los Angeles four people were arrested after Trump supporters clashed with demonstrators against him.
- Washington, D.C., has instituted a curfew from 6 p.m. Wednesday through 6 a.m. Thursday.
Trump locked out of Twitter
President Donald Trump’s favorite tool has been taken away, perhaps permanently.
Twitter officials are requiring the removal of three tweets Trump posted Wednesday, including one in which he admonished Vice President Mike Pence for not overturning the election results and another one in which he said the violent intrusion into the Capitol by his supporters is what happens “when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots. »
Twitter locked Trump’s account for at least 12 hours “for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy’’ and warned that future violations of its rules will lead to permanent suspension.
The online platform also said Trump’s Twitter account, which he has frequently used to castigate political enemies, stoke his followers and fire government officials who have run afoul of him, would remain locked if he did not remove the three tweets in question.
Woman shot inside Capitol dies
A woman shot inside the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon has died, according to spokeswoman Alaina Gertz of the Washington, D.C., police department.
Videos of the incident circulating on social media show the woman fall to the ground following a loud bang inside the building. Onlookers screamed for help while she bled on the ground shortly after 3 p.m.
One witness, who identified himself as Thomas from New Jersey, said after storming into the chambers, police yelled for the mob of rioters to get back. He said the woman “didn’t heed the call” as they rushed to the chamber windows. « Then they shot her in the neck,” Thomas said.
Hospitals in the area declined to give details about anyone transported to their emergency rooms Wednesday evening.
– Brett Murphy
Referring to Wednesday’s intrusion into the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters as « a shameful assault » on U.S. democracy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the counting of Electoral College votes to certify Joe Biden’s election as president would continue that night.
In a letter to House colleagues, Pelosi implicitly blamed President Trump for his supporters violently storming the Capitol, which resulted in a woman getting shot and killed and led to more than a dozen arrests.
« We also knew that we would be a part of history in a positive way, today, despite ill-founded objections to the Electoral College vote, » Pelosi wrote. « We now will be part of history, as such a shameful picture of our country was put out to the world, instigated at the highest level. »
The electoral votes were being counted when the rioters broke into the Capitol. Hours later, the House Sergeant at Arms told staff, lawmakers and reporters inside a secure location that the building was secure. The room broke into applause, according to reporters present.
As Trump’s speech concluded, a group of about two dozen people moved in on the U.S. Capitol as debate over certifying the election was taking place inside. Several flash-bang grenades were launched. A stretcher was seen being taken through the crowd as tensions flared.
Behind them, a huge throng continued to swell, with a reporter estimating more than 1,000 pushing up against the inauguration stage set up outside the Capitol building. As protesters began climbing up the side of the building and on the balcony at the back, police appeared to retreat.
After the break-in, police attempted to secure one section outside the building but were quickly overwhelmed as the crowd broke through security fencing and breached the building. The Capitol was locked down and Pence was evacuated.
Terry Gainer, former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police who also served as the Senate’s sergeant-at arms, described Wednesday’s protests as unprecedented in four decades in law enforcement.
“It’s dangerous,” Gainer said. “This is a much more hateful crowd incited by the president himself. It’s definitely something new in our business.”
– Kevin Johnson and Will Carless, 2:20 p.m. ET
While holed up in their offices, legislators on both sides of the aisle condemned the rioters’ violent incursion into the Capitol.
“This is not a protest. It is a terrorist attack on our democracy,’’ Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, tweeted.
“There is nothing patriotic about what is occurring on Capitol Hill,’’ tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida. “This is 3rd world style anti-American anarchy.’’
Nevada Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat, said via Twitter: « As I shelter in place, lawless domestic terrorists encouraged by the President of the United States are attempting to destroy our democracy. They will not succeed. »
By late afternoon, an almost festival atmosphere prevailed outside the Capitol: participants celebrated the storming of the building and traded stories about getting tear- gassed. Vendors sold popcorn and pretzels, and some departing participants rode off in bicycle rickshaws.
Several participants carried “Election fraud is treason” signs but declined to give their names or specify who they believed should be punished, but pointed out a nearby gallows. Closing in on 4 p.m., thousands of participants streamed away from the Capitol building, many laughing and jeering the politicians they had intimidated.
“Come back, turn around, stay strong, hold the line,” yelled a man waving a Trump flag from atop a cherry-picker. “We need you.”
– Trevor Hughes, 3:53 p.m. ET
At a late-morning rally, Trump once again repeated his repudiated claims of a rigged election, blaming the « fake news media, » « weak Republicans » and the tech giants. Trump also rejected early results from Tuesday’s election that saw Democrats leading in both Senate runoff elections in Georgia.
« This year they rigged the election, they rigged it like they never did before, » Trump said, citing unfounded examples.
Legal challenges, however, have been consistently rejected in several courts. Trump’s Homeland Security and Justice departments have said there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
But Trump again urged Vice President Mike Pence to reject the Electoral College count, which Pence has no legal right to do.
« We will never concede, » Trump said. « We will stop the steal. »
Later in the day, Trump assailed the vice president in a tweet, saying, « 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! »
– John Bacon, 12:20 p.m. ET
More: Mike Pence faces biggest loyalty test in announcing Trump’s loss during a special session of Congress
Trump backers seek support Congress can’t provide
Chad Heuer, 45, said he traveled from southern Michigan to watch Trump speak because he wants members of Congress to listen to what Trump supporters say.
“We have a constitution. Let’s uphold it,” Heuer said.
Michele Haynes from Las Vegas, unwilling to accept the reality that Joe Biden will become president, said she’s “sure there are other options” for Trump to remain in office regardless of what happens in Congress. She said Americans won’t accept Biden as president.
“They have more,” she said of allegations of voter fraud. “It’s going to be revealed.”
– Ryan Miller, 11:35 a.m. ET
At Black Lives Matter Plaza, just blocks from the White House, two counter-protesters camped out between police barricades playing “FDT” by rapper YG.
Sean Davis, 20, and Kayla Buie, 19, stood before a line of Black Lives Matter and rainbow flags, trading insults with passing groups of Trump supporters. Davis, a chef who has been unemployed since the beginning of the pandemic, said the couple drove from New York on Tuesday night to show their support.
“At first I wasn’t going to come, but then everything Trump was doing, it goes against our political system,” he said. “It’s more like tyranny.”
– N’dea Yancey-Bragg, 10:50 a.m. ET
Sherri Lynn Womack, a member of the Lee County board of education in North Carolina, said she traveled to Washington to demand better election security and stronger voter ID laws. She cited what she believes are “suspicious” videos of ballot counting in Georgia.
“I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists, » she said. « But these are legitimate questions that need to be asked. »
The Trump campaign is falsely claiming that surveillance camera footage captured election workers in Georgia adding thousands of illegal ballots that were brought into an Atlanta facility in suspicious “suitcases” on election night. State officials said the full video shows the suitcases were actually standard containers used to secure ballots.
Meanwhile, David Tate, 32, a truck driver from New Hampshire, said he drove 14 hours because he doesn’t want his three children to grow up under a Biden administration. He said he doesn’t believe Biden could have gotten the amount of votes he did because of the massive crowds Trump drew compared to the smaller events held by Biden.
“It’s kind of our right and our duty as American citizens to stand up against this naked treason,” he said. Biden, however, did not host large events at the behest of the public health experts who urged Americans to avoid large gatherings.
– N’dea Yancey-Bragg, 9:25 a.m. ET
On the National Mall to ‘support the cause of freedom’
Among those on the National Mall was Angela Strong, 41, a sixth-generation Texan who said she had ancestors on the Mayflower and others who fought in the Civil War.
“If they were willing to sacrifice everything to defend liberty and freedom, I could come down to support the cause for freedom, » Strong said. She said debate has been stifled in America, and people who disagree can’t have a conversation without arguing.
Strong said she couldn’t speak to Trump’s claims of voter fraud because Texas was not that close of a race, but added that concerns raised by people in other states such as Pennsylvania should be heard. Experts have agreed,however, that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Pennsylvania or elsewhere.
“If their citizens and legislators are questioning it in any contested state, it shouldn’t be ignored, » she said. « We have to give those voices the opportunity to say how they feel and why it is they feel that way.”
– Ryan W. Miller, 8:25 a.m. ET
Crowds of President Donald Trump’s supporters began gathering Tuesday in Washington, and D.C. police announced six protest-related arrests.
The Metropolitan Police Department detained three men and two women on charges ranging from carrying a pistol without a license to assault of a police officer, according to a spokesman. The U.S. Park Police also made one arrest, the spokesman said.
Hundreds of people had gathered during the day on Freedom Plaza near the White House, many waving Trump and American flags. Vendors ringing the plaza sold flag-themed hats and shirts emblazoned with sayings from “Stop the steal” to “Trump is my president.”
– Ryan W. Miller and Trevor Hughes, 12:05 a.m. ET
Counting Electoral College votes: What’s happening in Congress today
Congress’ count of the Electoral College, a normally symbolic affair affirming the president-elect’s victory, is set to be a contentious, lengthy process when the House and Senate convene in a joint session to count the electoral votes on Wednesday.
In an effort that has divided the Republican Party, over a dozen Senate Republicans and at least 50 House Republicans are set to object to the counting of electoral votes from states that Trump contested after Election Day. No Democrats are expected to object to the results.
Trump has urged Republican lawmakers to join the objections, but the effort is unlikely to succeed because a majority of both the House and Senate is needed to exclude any electoral votes.
Congress is set to meet on Wednesday at 1 p.m. EST as protesters descend on Washington. Read more here about the procedures and what to expect.
– Nicholas Wu and Camille Caldera, 7 a.m. ET
Contributing: Grace Hauck; The Associated Press