Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress were evacuated from the building due to the violence. This is a breaking story.
A swarm of right-wing extremists egged on by President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol Wednesday afternoon, shortly after Republicans in Congress began their attempt to subvert democracy and block certification of the electoral college count from the 2020 presidential election.
Members of Congress were evacuated from Senate and House chambers due to the attack. Shortly after 5 pm EST, police officers began deploying tear gas in an attempt to finally disperse the mob. Congress’ Sergeant at Arms said the building was secure around 5:30 pm EST.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement the House would reconvene later Wednesday night, in the Capitol building, to complete the certification of the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden.
“We always knew this responsibility would take us into the night. The night may still be long, but we are hopeful for a shorter agenda,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues. “But our purpose will be accomplished.”
The Senate is also planning to reconvene at 8 pm EST.
Earlier in the day, a woman who was part of the mob and appeared to be wrapped in a Trump flag, was shot in the upper body area and evacuated from the Capitol grounds. The victim was later reported to have died.
CNN also reported that “multiple officers” were injured in the attack, and one was transported to the hospital.
Biden Calls On Terrorists to Leave Capitol, Trump Says ‘Go Home’ But Continues to Lie About Election
Earlier Wednesday afternoon, President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation, calling for an end to the violence.
“At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault,” Biden said. “Let me be very clear: The scenes of chaos at the capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are. What we’re seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent, this is disorder; it’s chaos. It borders on sedition and it must end. Now. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.”
He also demanded action from President Trump. “I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege,” Biden said. “Enough is enough is enough.”
Shortly after, President Trump finally released a video addressing the domestic terrorists who he had earlier encouraged to march to the Capitol (and, in fact, said he would join). At the same time, the President continued his false claims about the election.
“We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side” Trump said, lying. “But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt … Go home. We love you and you’re very special.”
Republicans Try to Reign-In Mob With Tweets as Members Shelter in Place
Some Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Vice President Mike Pence–who for years sat by while Trump divided the country and stoked outrage and violence —took to Twitter on Wednesday to try to convince protesters to remain peaceful and leave the Capitol.
“The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now,” Pence tweeted. “Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who in recent weeks has supported Trump’s efforts to subvert democracy, weakly attempted to mitigate the very damage he caused by talking down protesters with a tweet. “Those storming the Capitol need to stop NOW. The Constitution protects peaceful protest, but violence—from Left or Right— is ALWAYS wrong,” Cruz wrote. “And those engaged in violence are hurting the cause they say they support.”
“Like most of my colleagues, I’m sheltering in place,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) told NPR. “I’m literally looking at pictures of my colleagues where they’re down on their stomachs in the House gallery.”
Slotkin, a former intelligence officer, said she is talking to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She said Capitol police defended members of Congress with their bodies. Slotkin is currently sheltered in an undisclosed location.
“Do we want to continue this thing called democracy…or let it go down because we didn’t understand how fragile it was?” Slotkin asked. “The first order of business is to clear the Capitol complex which is not safe, but then we have to have that existential conversation.”
The rioters descended on DC from across the country as part of a so-called “Stop The Steal” protest, organized by Trump allies who have bought into debunked conspiracy theories that the election was fraudulent. Trump was handily defeated by President-elect Joe Biden by 7 million votes and a 306-232 margin in the Electoral College.
Despite that reality, thousands of Trump supporters marched on the Capitol shortly after Trump addressed them, again lied about the election results, and urged them to support his attempted coup. They listened and within hours were violently attacking police officers—despite for months insisting they “backed the Blue”—and trying to breach the Capitol building in an act of domestic terrorism.
As he was sheltering in the Longworth Office Building because protestors had stormed the capital, Rep Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) called into MSNBC around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
“Obviously, I have never experienced anything like this,” he said from his office.
He talked about hearing explosions, having to lock his doors and repeatedly getting alerts through his computer system. Boyle told anchors Chuck Todd, Katie Tur and Andrea Mitchell that his staff had been prepared for a “long night” and to take precautions during the day, like using the underground tunnels system.
However, he said, he didn’t expect chaos to arrive so early in the proceedings.
“This is much worse than I was anticipating,” Boyle said.
Some protesters began physically scaling the Capitol, while others breached the building and made their way outside the Senate chamber, according to the Huffington Post.
The violent clashes earlier forced a lockdown of the House and Senate, interrupting the certification process and also forcing evacuations of the Madison Library of Congress Building and the Cannon House Office Building, forcing reporters, congressional staff to leave.
Rep. Haley Stevens of Michigan, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter that she was forced to shelter in place in her office amid the chaos.
Rep. Nancy Mace, a Republican from Oklahoma, was also forced to evacuate and denounced the violence.
Wednesday’s incidents came after similar clashes on Tuesday evening, where right-wing protesters clashed with police.
A Growing Number of Politicians Are Calling for President Trump to Step Down or Be Removed Immediately
In response to today’s attempted coup, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar said she would draft articles of impeachment against President Trump, while other Democrats called on Trump’s Cabinet and Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
Vermont’s Republican Gov. Phil Scott also called for Trump to be removed from office or to step down. “The fabric of our democracy and the principles of our republic are under attack by the President,” Scott tweeted. “Enough is enough. President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress.”
Editor’s note: The headline of this article has been updated.
Patrick Abdalla and Katelyn Kivel contributed to this report.