WASHINGTON – A mob derailed the typically routine process of Congress certifying the presidential election results on Wednesday, with both chambers abruptly recessing after President Donald Trump’s supporters clashed with police and forced their way into the U.S. Capitol.
A House office building was evacuated, and the Capitol and surrounding office buildings were locked down as pro-Trump demonstrators protesting the election results pushed past barricades and made it to the hallways outside the House and Senate chambers and clashed with law enforcement. Some were carrying Trump flags, video posted on Twitter showed.
According to pool reports, Vice President Mike Pence was rushed out of the Senate chamber, where he had been presiding over the certification.
As Pence was rushed away, Senate parliamentary staff grabbed hold of the boxes containing the Electoral College certificates.
Lawmakers were also evacuated from the House, as confirmed by members of Congress themselves on social media.
We have been evacuated from our office in the Cannon House Office Building. Awaiting further instructions from Capitol Police.
— Rep. Steven Horsford (@RepHorsford) January 6, 2021
Another pool report said: “There’s an armed standoff at the house … police officers have their guns drawn at someone who is trying to reach the front door.”
Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei, who was Trump’s campaign chairman in Nevada in 2016, described Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters as “shameful.”
January 6, 2021: History made today for all the wrong reasons. Shameful. All our Washington staff are safe.
— RepMarkAmodei (@MarkAmodeiNV2) January 6, 2021
Trump at a rally had encouraged demonstrators to march on the Capitol, and indicated he would march with them to the Capitol, but instead returned to the White House.
As the violent demonstration was unfolding Trump blasted his vice president in a tweet, saying Mike Pence for refusing to attempt to block confirmation of Joe Biden’s victory over Trump, an act a vice president did not have the authority to do during Wednesday’s procedures.
President-elect Joe Biden, speaking Wednesday afternoon, called for the mob to disperse, and for Trump to make a national appearance to quell the violence.
“The words of a president matter,” Biden said. “At their best, they can inspire. At their worst, can incite.”
Trump later released a video statement that tended toward the latter. He praised the mob – “I love you,” Trump said – and repeated his false allegation that the election was “stolen,” while at the same time urging his supporters to “go home in peace.”
Trump’s supporters unleashed the chaos as lawmakers had gathered to tally the Electoral College votes, the final step in formalizing Joe Biden’s presidential win.
A woman was shot in the chest on Capitol grounds and was in critical condition, according to CNN. Several Capitol Police were also injured and taken to the hospital.
Dozens of Republicans were expected to file a series of objections to Biden’s votes from a handful of swing states, alleging fraud claims that have failed in lawsuits brought by the legal team of Trump, who has refused to concede.
The House and Senate convened briefly to begin tallying votes, and the first objection was filed to Arizona’s 11 electoral votes. The two chambers began debate over that objection, which was raised by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and 60 colleagues, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
That debate was upended as the protesters approached the building. As Capitol Police closed the doors to lock down the House floor, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) shouted to Republicans, “This is because of you,” according to pool reports.
Asked about his comment by a reporter after he and other lawmakers had been evacuated to a safe location, Phillips said it reflected “what I was feeling.”
“This has been brewing for four years. And the collective dereliction of duty manifests itself in that moment for me,” Phillips said, according to a pool report.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a 6 p.m. citywide curfew until 6 a.m. Thursday.