WASHINGTON, DC – As a curfew was imposed on Washington, and about six hours after U.S. President Donald Trump riled up a crowd of about 10,000 outside the White House, officials declared the U.S. Capitol complex secure.
January 6 is supposed to be a day of propriety and ceremony. The mahogany boxes containing the certified votes of the Electoral College are carried into the the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives for a Joint Session of the U.S. Session. Alphabetically, the certified results of each state are supposed to be read aloud and then confirmed, the result being the official anointment of the next president of the United States.
It’s supposed to be a peaceful moment of history.
Tragically, a woman lost her life in the chaos. At least 5 others have been taken to hospital for treatment, according to local media.
The day began with Donald Trump insisting to around 10,000 of his supporters gathered at the Ellipse, just outside the White House, that he will never concede. The more than hour-long rally was filled with the repetitions of his personal grievances and false claims.
The American president returned to the White House, to tweet from his phone and watch what unfolded, safe in his private dining room. According to some White House reporters, his own advisers could not reach him.
His supporters marched the two kilometers (it’s a bit more than a mile) to Capitol Hill. They climbed the marble steps to wave their Trump flags. They mounted the tower built to support the television cameras for the upcoming inauguration. And some bashed in windows and entered the iconic white building.
Once inside, guns were drawn in the House chamber, as Capitol Police tried to secure the amphitheater from the group being called a mob and extremists. One Trump supporter managed to sit in the president’s seat in the Senate Chamber. Another man literally climbed the walls. Some entered Speaker Pelosi’s office, writing messages on her notepads and folders, promising they would never stop.
The complex was locked down, with staffers and lawmakers told to shelter in place. Senators Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell and others were herded into a room away from the Senate Floor with extra security. My congressman, David Trone, a Democrat of Maryland, posted a photo wearing the special hoods that a supposed to protect them from terror attacks. Others hid under their desks.
Americans were transfixed, seeing tear gas deployed in the halls most only see as tourists on a family or school trip. The National Guard was deployed to support the Capitol Police and the DC Metropolitan Police. The FBI and officers from ATF – Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – were called out. And anyone who knew anyone who works in DC, in the media and especially on Capitol Hill frantically messaged their friends and family, hoping they were safe. It’s now been confirmed that it was not the president, but Vice President Mike Pence who insisted on calling out the National Guard.
Republicans began calling upon Donald Trump to calm the situation. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the House Republicans, said, “…this is not the American way. This is not protected by the First Amendment, this must stop.”
President-elect Joe Biden delayed a speech on the economy and to confirm his pick for Attorney General to address the situation.
“What we’re seeing are a small number of extremist dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It’s 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 then urged Donald Trump to step up and actually lead, “to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.”
Moments later the President posted a video on Twitter around 4pm, a couple hours after the chaos first took hold, in which Donald Trump tried to claim he knows his supporters pain, and repeated the very false claims that so inflamed the people attacking the Capitol complex: “We had an election that was stolen from us,” he said. “It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side — but you have to go home now.”
DC Metropolitan police were arresting those who refused to comply with the curfew, and lawmakers insisted on returning to their vandalized chambers to continue the process and formally confirm the Electoral College Vote. There were calls for Donald Trump to be impeached and removed from office, even though he only has 14 days left to serve as the 45th President of the United States.
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