Capitol building stormed

Congress’s joint session to confirm Electoral College votes halted as members seek cover from agitators inside the building


Photo Courtesy of Andy Feliciotti / Unsplash

The Capitol building stands surrounded by yellow caution tape at a date prior to the Jan. 6 breach. As of 3:30 p.m. EST, all rioters had been removed from the Senate floor, and by 9:30 p.m., 52 arrests had been made. (Photo courtesy of Andy Feliciotti/Unsplash)

Members of Congress gathered on Jan. 6 to confirm the Electoral College votes of the 2020 Presidential Election. At this time, in front of the White House, President Donald Trump called on people attending a rally to march to the Capitol building, and shortly after, it was swarmed. 

“We will never give up, we will never concede,” Trump said.

The rally was held by Trump with the intent to push the Senate to decide against certifying a win for current President-elect Joe Biden. Trump has claimed repeatedly since Nov. 7 that the election was “fraudulent” and that the office should rightfully remain with him. Trump claimed that he would join his supporters in marching to the Capitol, but instead he returned to the White House.

Protestors, clad in body armor and waving “Trump 2020” flags in the air, arrived at the steps of the Capitol at around 2:15 p.m. EST, according to ABC News. The protest grew in intensity as more and more people gathered at and around the building, and eventually people began to press forward, leading to a series of clashes between protestors and police outside. 

The protestors surged through barricades and past armed officers in riot gear to then enter the Capitol building. A woman was shot in the chest inside, though circumstances regarding how the shooting occurred are currently unclear. 

Vice President Mike Pence took to Twitter to condemn the actions of those who had invaded the Capitol. 

“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,” the tweet reads. 

Windows on the building’s Senate side were broken by plastic shields and pieces of wood as numbers of protestors moved into the interior of the building. Elected officials, journalists and staff alike were instructed by law enforcement inside to shelter in place; later, a bulletin sent out to Capitol staff instructed people to hide and seek cover. Those not in public spaces were told to lock doors, silence all electronic devices and remain silent. 

In a speech on Wednesday afternoon, Biden called on the president to “step up” and urge his supporters out and away from the building.

“This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It’s bordering on sedition. And it must end, now. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward,” Biden said. “Therefore, I call on President Trump to go on national television now, to fulfill his oath, to defend the constitution, and demand an end to this siege.”

The crowds began to thin outside of the Capitol, though more remained inside. Photos depict officers inside pointing guns through a door which had been breached by protestors and one rioter hanging from a balcony which reads “annuit coeptis,” Latin for “favors [our] undertakings.”

Soon after, the president released a pre-recorded video on Twitter, though users were unable to interact with it due to disputed claims regarding a “fraudulent” election. On Wednesday night, Twitter placed a 24-hour ban on Trump’s Twitter, so the video is currently unavailable. 

In it, Trump maintained his baseless stance that the election was stolen from him.

“I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side,” Trump said. 

He went on to call for law and order, and asked his supporters to go home and not “play into the hands of these people [those who had “stolen” the election].” He called it a difficult time for the country, during which time others would attempt to “take it away” from American citizens. 

“We love you, you’re very special,” Trump said to the mob storming the Capitol. “We’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.”

Since then, there have been cries for the government to enact the 25th Amendment, which would remove the president from office should he be deemed incapable of performing his job and in turn place Pence in office in his stead. 

Currently, people are looking to Pence to gauge whether or not this is likely to occur, but according to CNN, a source close to the vice president called it a path that Pence would be “highly unlikely” to take at this time. Two Cabinet secretaries have proposed demanding that Trump release a statement committing to a peaceful transfer of power.

In the wake of the Capitol breach, a number of officials within the Trump Administration have stepped down from their positions. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Special Envoy for Northern Ireland Mick Mulvaney are among those who resigned, though the total number of resignees is nine, according to the New York Times.