Mob of Trump Supporters Seize U.S. Capitol
Supporters of Donald Trump attacked the United States Congress. They broke into the temple of American democracy, a violent crescendo to Trump’s coup attempt and a clean break with a centuries-old tradition of the peaceful transfer of power.
Protesters took the floor of the Senate and were at one point trying to break into the House chamber, where they were met with armed officers. The president has not condemned the attack.
The attack came while Congress voted to certify Joe Biden’s election as president. The certification vote was halted and the Senate went into recess. Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the session, has been evacuate to an undisclosed location, as have senators. (CNN reported around 3:30 p.m. that police had cleared the Senate chamber.) Representatives were sheltering in the House chamber — protected by officers with guns drawn — and told to put on gas masks and hide under their seats. “Hakeem Jeffries says members plan to return and certify the Electoral College,” the Huffington Post’s Matt Fuller reports. “Members from both parties applaud.”
Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, said he spoke to Trump and asked him to calm the situation down. Minutes later, Trump sent a pair of tweets that did not ask his supporters to leave.
More than two hours into the insurrection, Trump finally authorized the National Guard and federal protective services to the Capitol, according to the White House press secretary.
Pence broke with Trump, explicitly condemning the violence:
The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building.
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) January 6, 2021
The day began with an angry, rambling speech by Trump on the White House grounds, in front of throngs of supporters, where he demanded Vice-President Mike Pence, who presides over the certification vote, block electors for Biden. Pence refused, but a large swath of Republicans in Congress voted to challenge the electors in a bid to appease Trump.