YouTube video

UPDATED 01/11/2020, 10:30AM: This article has been updated to correct the description of this video. The video’s owner says it depicts police backing away after being threatened by the crowd, not deliberately opening the barricade.

Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory early Thursday morning, defying a violent mob of hundreds of Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol Wednesday afternoon, forcing members of Congress to shelter in place and halting House and Senate proceedings.

Capitol police said one woman was shot dead by authorities, and three others were left dead due to “medical emergencies.” Explosive devices were found outside the Democratic and National Committee buildings. 

Trump stoked the violent mob, telling thousands of supporters that gathered near the White House, “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength.” The president said he “will never concede,” and repeated false claims that he won the presidential election, citing conspiracy theories that have been rejected by the courts and discredited by Republican election officials in states like Georgia.

Shortly after his speech, hundreds of people from the crowd breached barricades outside the Capitol, forcing the House and Senate into recess as they entered the Senate chambers and even battled with police. The action had been organized and planned online for weeks.

Trump initially resisted a request from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to mobilize the National Guard. Social media outlets removed a video Trump released in which he repeated false claims of election fraud and called the insurrectionists “patriots.” Trump later released a statement saying he would observe an “orderly” transition of power. 

There have been calls to investigate the role of law enforcement in Wednesday’s events: Police arrested just 26 of the hundreds who raided the Capitol, and video shows police taking selfies with the rioters. Another video, which was widely shared on social media, appears to show outnumbered police backing away from barricades and allowing insurgents to enter the Capitol unimpeded (however, Marcus DiPaola, the journalist who recorded the original footage, told Newsweek that officers only backed away out of fear for their own safety). 

Biden, who defeated the Republican president in the Nov. 3 general election and is due to take office on Jan. 20, said the activity of the protesters “borders on sedition.”

The President-elect further said that for demonstrators to storm the Capitol, smash windows, occupy offices, invade the halls of Congress, and threaten the safety of duly elected officials: “It’s not a protest, it’s insurrection.”

Others called for Trump to be swiftly removed from office. 

“Donald J. Trump should immediately be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate as soon as Congress reconvenes,” tweeted Rep. Ayana Pressly. “This is dangerous & unacceptable,” she said.

Rep. Ilhan Omar said she was drafting articles of impeachment against Trump. “We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath,” she tweeted.

Republican officials are reportedly discussing using the 25th Amendment, which would require Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of Cabinet members to vote to remove Trump. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has also called for Pence to remove Trump, saying “This president should not hold office one day longer.”

Experts have long warned of the growing threat of far-right domestic terrorists. In October, the FBI arrested 13 heavily armed militia members who were plotting to kidnap Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and violently overthrow several state governments for instituting measures to contain the coronavirus. According to the criminal complaint, “Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor.” Trump repeatedly attacked Whitmer on social media, including telling his supporters to “Liberate Michigan” on Twitter.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Jaisal is currently the Democracy Initiative Manager at the Solutions Journalism Network and is a former TRNN host, producer, and reporter. He mainly grew up in the Baltimore area and studied modern history at the University of Maryland, College Park. Before joining TRNN, he contributed print, radio, and TV reports to Free Speech Radio News, Democracy Now! and The Indypendent. Jaisal's mother has taught in the Baltimore City Public School system for the past 25 years. Follow him on Twitter @jaisalnoor.