Pro-Trump Mob Storms U.S. Capitol (UPDATED)

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 6, 2021 (Updated May 19)

The following story contains graphic content and language.

A horde of pro-Trump protesters insurrectionists have descended on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. They breached police lines to gather on the Capitol steps and have now entered the building. Their presence en masse has interrupted Congressional proceedings on certifying President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. Violence erupted. The Virginia state police and the entire National Guard were activated.

According to Axios, “Capitol police ordered lawmakers and reporters to shelter in place within the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, as protesters at a “March for Trump” breached the building following Congress beginning to certify Electoral College votes for Joe Biden. Where it stands: The House and Senate are in recess and all the doors are now closed in the House Chambers, per Axios reporters on the ground. Vice President Mike Pence, overseeing the certification of Electoral College votes, left the Senate chamber shortly after 2 p.m.” (All times are in Eastern Standard Time.)

Armed Standoff

CNN is now reporting (as of approx. 2:50 pm EST) that an armed standoff is occurring at the door of the front door of the House building. Bloomberg News reporter Erik Wasson confirmed that detail:

Shortly afterward, some of the protesters have begun scuffling with law enforcement:

More Video

UPDATE (2:25 pm): Live on CNN, rioters were captured breaking into the Capitol building, breaking a window and climbing inside:

The incident occurred roughly 40 minutes ago. Later, word broke that shots were fired inside the Capitol building. A woman is reportedly in critical condition after being shot in the chest while inside the building. (That woman later died.)

Biden Speaks

BREAKING (4:13 PM): President-Elect Joe Biden is speaking live on the violent siege at the Capitol: “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 says. He calls on President Trump to address the nation on television and call for an end to the violence: “”I call on President trump to go on national television now ,and demand an end to this siege,” he says. “I call on the president to go on national television right now and uphold his oath to defend the constitution.”

Biden continued his remarks by quoting Abraham Lincoln: “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.” He concludes: “I’m not concerned about my safety, security or the inauguration. The American people are going to stand up now. Enough is enough is enough.”

The News Station Managing editor Matt Lasslo tweeted at 3:11 pm: “BREAKING: PROTESTERS JUST BREACHED THE NORTH DOOR OF THE CAPITOL. AGAIN. ‘Really? Again?’ one of the heroic, exhausted and frustrated Capitol Police officers escorting me and a crew of others out of the complex just said to his colleagues.”

Trump (Finally) Breaks Silence

The President has spoken — finally. In a recorded video message, he urged supporters to go home — and repeated the lie about his election loss. “This was a fraudulent election,” Trump insisted. “But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law & order.”

The “law and order president” incited a violent insurrection that endangered scores of elected officials. And his supporters beat up the very officers he claims to support. But it took hours for cops to corral the crowds.

“Where are the arrests?” asked CNN commentator Gloria Borger.

Double Standards?

Many noticed the contrast between how these protesters were treated versus Black Lives Matter protesters. When Black Lives Matter protesters were blocks away from the Capitol, a massive National Guard presence was there on the steps. Police were quick to subdue and arrest them. “When it was Black Lives Matter, they had people in riot gear ringing the Capitol, as if it was gonna be stormed,” Anderson Cooper noted.

But when pro-Trump white people stormed the capitol — climbing walls, breaking glass, stealing podiums, acting like beasts of the Southern wild — it took hours for the National Guard to arrive. Police let them in and in some cases stood by, watching, as they ransacked the Capitol.

When BLM protests broke out over the summer in response to the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, pundits (many conservative) assailed the protesters as violent thugs. Arrests, tear-gassing, and even rubber bullets became commonplace. Peaceful protesters were tear-gassed by D.C. police so that Trump could pose with a Bible for a photo-op back in June. But it was these pro-Trump protesters who stormed the Capitol and breached barricades in a thuggish display of opposition. CNN anchor Don Lemon pointed out the dichotomy:

Updates

UPDATE (app. 5pm EST): Riot gear police have FINALLY arrived on the scene and are assembling on the Capitol steps. They are walking, slowly, down the stairs and dispersing the crowds from the stairs. This has only occurred after HOURS of mayhem by the MAGA crowd.

UPDATE: 5:13 pm CST: The woman who was shot in the chest during today’s melee has died. That’s according to two officials familiar with the matter. They spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Growing Criticism Of Trump

In the meantime, Donald Trump faces criticism for encouraging the rebellion: he had, after all, told his supporters at a rally today to march to the Capitol. But instead of apologize for ginning up this melee, Trump sent a tweet that justifies the violence and mayhem this afternoon. “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” he tweeted. Twitter removed the tweet due to a violation of its rules. But the damage was done.

Following the attack, the publication Mother Jones declared Trump a “terrorist leader“. There’s talk of enacting the 25th Amendment, which removes a president from office if he proves to be unfit. But one menber of Congress has other plans for Trump. Rep. Ilhan Omar says she is drafting articles of impeachment. “Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate,” wrote Omar (D-Minnesota). “We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath.”

UPDATE: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency in D.C. for 15 days — extending through the end of Trump’s term.

Certification

UPDATE: (Dec. 7, 2020, 4:10 pm): Congress voted overnight to certify President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. After the Capitol was secured last night, elected officials gathered in the Capitol building and made it official. Despite the disaster that had erupted hours earlier, a number of senators — including Josh Hawley and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — still objected to the election results. But their objections meant little. The result was the same.

What’s not the same is the state of the Capitol. Windows were smashed; cabinets were broken. A bust of 12th President Zachary Taylor was stained with blood, per the New York Times. The office of the Senate Parliamentarian was ransacked; papers were strewn all over the office. And now, a bombshell report from the Associated Press reveals that the Capitol Police refused help offered by the Pentagon.

AP Report

“Three days before the pro-President Donald Trump riot at the Capitol, the Pentagon asked the U.S. Capitol Police if it needed National Guard manpower. And as the mob descended on the building Wednesday, Justice Department leaders reached out to offer up FBI agents. The police turned them down both times, according to a defense official and two people familiar with the matter.

Capitol Police had planned for a free speech demonstration and didn’t need more help, those three told The Associated Press. The police weren’t expecting what actually happened — an insurrection. But the Capitol ended up being overrun, overwhelming a law enforcement agency sworn to protect the lawmakers inside.”

Five people died in the fracas yesterday. Additionally, at 5:44 pm today, CNN’s Kristin Wilson reported that a Capitol Police officer involved in the riot has died. (That was Officer Brian Sicknick.) At least 52 rioters were arrested yesterday. One of them had a sinister plan. NBC investigative reporter Scott McFarlane reports that the individual possessed several explosives:

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Calls For Removal

In the wake of this dangerous, deadly act of terrorism instigated by the President, many called on him to be removed from office. One of them is California Cong. Ted Lieu, who announced today that a total of 112 Congress members have co-sponsored the articles of impeachment he wrote, along with David Cicilline and Rep. Jamie Raskin. Another is Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger; another is current Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi joined that call today. In remarks earlier this afternoon, she said: “In calling for this seditious act, the President has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people. I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the Vice President to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment.” She warned: “If the Vice President and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment.”

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Barnett Arrested

UPDATE (Jan. 8): One of the insurrectionists — who had the audacity to enter Speaker Pelosi’s office and put his feet up on her desk — has been arrested. Richard Barnett, who identifies as a white nationalist, was taken into custody, according to NBC reporter Pete Williams. Police arrested Barnett in Arkansas and charged him with entering and remaining on restricting grounds, violent entry, and theft of public property.

Richard Barnett in Speaker Pelosi’s office. Photo via AFP/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are beginning to break away from the President. Even some Republicans are outraged. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) blamed the President for the riot. He said Trump was “delighted” to watch the drama unfold. But Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) wasn’t amused. She urged the President to resign today. “I want him out,” she said. “He has done enough damage.”

Capitol Standoff

UPDATE (Jan. 12, 2021): There is a new standoff occurring outside the Capitol. Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) set off the newly installed metal detectors outside the chamber doors. She refused to allow officers to check her bag and is now in a standoff with Capitol Police, according to reporter Ryan Nobles.

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Boebert was eventually allowed into the chamber, Nobles said. It is unclear whether she did in fact agree to a search. But recent events indicate that Rep. Boebert may have set off the detectors with a firearm.

One of the newest members of Congress, Boebert is a staunch gun rights advocate who wants to carry her Glock in the halls of Congress. The Washington Post quoted Boebert as saying she would continue to carry: “Even though I now work in one of the most liberal cities in America, I refused to give up my rights, especially my Second Amendment rights,” Boebert, who defeated Scott R. Tipton in the Republican primary, says in the ad. “I will carry my firearm in D.C. and in Congress.”

Commission Vote

UPDATE (MAY 19, 2021): Nearly four months after the deadly insurrection, the House voted on a bipartisan commission that would investigate the results of January 6. The commission would have five Republicans and five Democrats, according to the Washington Post.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had Rep. John Katko (R-NY) negotiate with the Democrats on the terms of a commission. According to MSNBC, Katko produced an agreement that was “nearly identical” to the one House Republicans proposed in January. Yet somehow McCarthy remains opposed to the commission. And Minority Whip Steve Scalise is now pressuring House Republicans to vote “no” on legislation that would create the commission.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he was “undecided” about the commission. Hours later, on Tuesday night, former president Trump issued a statement opposing the commission, calling it a “Democrat trap”. Today, on Wednesday, McConnell says he opposes the Jan. 6 commission.

“After careful consideration, I’ve made the decision to oppose the House Democrats’ slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of January the 6th,” he said on the Senate floor. His position underscores a sustained effort by Republican lawmakers to downplay or outright deny the events of Jan. 6.

Clyde & Gosar Gaslighting

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said the crowd was full of “peaceful patriots,” even though many had brought weapons and dozens had assaulted police. (At least three people arrested in connection with the Capitol riot are facing gun charges; one of them had a handgun, a loaded rifle, and a loaded shotgun, among other things.)

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Georgia) said point-blank: “There was no insurrection.” He added that the people gathered in Statuary Hall could be mistaken for tourists: “If you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.”

That account is belied by the account of D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone.

Michael Fanone’s Story

Officer Fanone was one of hundreds of officers who defended the Capitol against the mob. Fanone, 40, told The Washington Post in January that rioters dragged him down the steps of the Capitol. One of them shocked him with a stun gun. He then drifted in and out of consciousness.

He said he heard members of the mob urging others to kill him with his own gun. Terrified, the father of four girls told the violent mob that he was a father. “I got kids,” Fanone told the crowd, hoping to appeal to their humanity. The gambit worked. Fanone was eventually freed and brought inside a building. That moment was captured on camera — and later broadcast for the world to see.

In May 2021, CNN aired graphic bodycam footage showing Fanone being assailed by the mob. On the video, Fanone screams in pain as he’s being Tazed.

“I got kids,” Fanone says, and someone seems to get the message. “Don’t hurt him,” a voice says. “We’re better than this.” The rioters guided Fanone away from the mob, and he was taken inside. The camera veers wildly during the clip, darting between views of hands and fists and jackets. But what’s clear is the agony (and danger) Fanone was in.

“I experienced the most brutal, savage hand-to-hand combat of my entire life, let alone my policing career, which spans almost two decades,” Fanone told CNN’s Don Lemon. “This was nothing I had ever thought would be a part of my law enforcement career.”

Aftermath

Fanone suffered a heart attack during the melee; he now has PTSD and a traumatic brain injury resulting from Jan. 6. And he has no patience for those seeking to whitewash that day. “I’m not a politician; I’m not an elected official. I don’t expect anybody to give two shits about my opinions,” he told Don Lemon. “But I will say this. Those are lies, and peddling that bullshit is an assault on every officer that fought to defend the Capitol. It’s disgraceful.”

Subsequently, members of the Capitol Police issued a letter to members of Congress expressing “profound disappointment” with McConnell’s and McCarthy’s actions.

Tim Ryan Snaps

Update (6:31 pm): As the House debated the Jan. 6 commission earlier today, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) grew frustrated. Ryan launched into an impassioned rant, arguing that the GOP opposition to the commission “is a slap in the face to every rank-and-file cop.” He insisted that both parties must ground themselves in reality to work:

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The House voted 252-175 in favor of the commission.

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