Hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday in a bid to reverse his election defeat, forcing Congress to postpone a session that would have endorsed President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
With guns drawn and tear gas, police evacuated legislators and tried to clear the protesters’ Capitol Building, which surged through the halls of Congress in shocking scenes broadcast worldwide.
One protester seized the Senate’s eye and yelled: “Trump won that election.” Protesters overturned barricades and clashes with police as thousands descended on Capitol grounds.
Video showed protesters smashing windows and police using tear gas inside the building. Metropolitan Washington Police Chief Robert Contee said the terrorists used chemical irritants to attack police. Several police forces were injured and one civilian was shot, he said.
Biden, a Democrat who defeated the Republican president in the Nov. 3 election and is due to take office on Jan. 20, said the protesters’ activity was “a disaster on borders.”
The former vice president, for demonstrators to storm the Capitol, smash windows, occupy offices, invade Congress and threaten the safety of properly elected officials: “It’s not a protest, it’s a rebellion.”
He urged Trump to insist on “ending this siege” on national television.
In a video posted to Twitter, Trump reiterated his false allegations about electoral fraud but urged the protesters to leave.
“You have to go home now, we need peace,” he said, adding: “We love you. You are very special. ”
Twitter Inc. later restricted users to Trump’s video and tweet re-tweets “because of the risk of violence.”
Police later cleared protesters off Capitol stairs, according to video, and were working to clear them from the building.
Vice President Mike Pence, who had presided over the joint session of Congress, had already been escorted from Parliament.
The chaotic scenes unfolded after Trump, who refused before the election to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost, addressed thousands of protesters, repeating unfounded claims that the fight had been stolen because of fraud and widespread electoral irregularities. Legislators
had been discussing a last-ditch effort by pro-Trump law makers to challenge the consequences, which were unlikely to succeed.
Critics had called the Republican lawmakers’ effort an attack on American democracy and the rule of law and an attempt to seek legislation.
The two top Democrats in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, called on Trump to demand that all protesters leave the Capitol and its lands at once. Capitol Police told lawmakers in the House chamber to take gas masks under their seats and order them to drop to the ground for their safety. Officers pulled their guns as someone tried to enter the chamber of the House. Police stacked furniture against the House’s chamber doors as protesters tried to break them down, Democratic Rep. Jason Crow said on MSNBC. Hundreds of House members, staff and the press were later moved to an undisclosed location.
Both sides’ election officials and independent observers have said there was no significant fraud in the Nov. 3 contest, which earned Biden more than 7 million votes in the national popular vote. Weeks have passed since the provinces completed certification that Biden won the election by 306 Electoral College votes to 232. Trump. Trump’s formidable challenges to Biden’s victory have been rejected by courts across the country.
‘WE WON’T TAKE IT’
Trump had pressed Pence to throw out election results stating that the president had narrowly lost, even though Pence has no authority to do so.
“Our country has had enough and we will not take it any more,” Trump said at the rally.
The endorsement in Congress, usually a formality, was expected to extend for several hours as some Republican lawmakers made an effort to deny some state heights, beginning with Arizona. Republicans and Democrats, who were bitterly divided over that effort, called on protesters to stand down.
“This is American and this must end,” said House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, a Trump ally who supported the Republican effort to challenge the results.
That attempt was unlikely to succeed, as even many Republicans opposed it.
“If this election were overturned by mere allegations of the losing side, our democracy would go to death spiral,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who helped put some of the ‘ to Trump’s greatest successes.
Schumer called the challenges in Congress by Trump’s allies an “attempted coup” and said: “Congress does not dictate the outcome of an election. The people do. ”
Outside the Capitol, members of militia and right-wing groups, some in body armor, mingled with the crowds.
A suspicious device was found outside the headquarters of the Republican National Committee, less than a block of the Capitol complex, and exploded by a bomb squad, according to a spokesman. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a city-wide curfew starting at 6 pm (2300 GMT).
National Guard troops, FBI agents and the U.S. Secret Service were used to help defeat Capitol police.
The violence unfolded the same day that Trump’s Republicans lost their majority in the Senate as they lost two runoff elections in Georgia.
“We will never give up,” Trump earlier told thousands of cheering supporters on a grassy expanse near the White House called the Ellipse. “We will never give up. It’s not happening. ”
Trump called on Pence to reverse election results as he presides over the Congress debate. “If you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you,” Trump said.
The US Constitution does not give Pence the power to unilaterally distort election results, and the vice president said in a statement that he could not unilaterally receive or reject electoral votes. The violence stunned world leaders. “Trump and his supporters must finally accept the decision of American voters and stop trampling on democracy,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Business groups, usually ardent allies of Republicans in Washington, responded strongly. The National Association of Manufacturers said Pence should consider calling a clause in the Constitution that allows a president to be sacked when he can’t do his job.
“This is a disaster and should be treated as such,” said group president Jay Timmons. (Reuters)