Trump Unleashes Mob to Storm Capitol and Disrupt Functioning of U.S. Government

The defeated president called for chaos and his supporters responded by storming the Capitol in Washington, disrupting the counting of electoral votes.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
A mob supporting President Donald Trump broke into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

This breaking news report will be updated as events continue to unfold.

Responding to outgoing President Donald Trump’s call to disrupt the counting of electoral votes that would confirm his defeat, hundreds of his supporters broke into the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, forcing Congress to halt its work and Vice President Mike Pence to be evacuated as the mob overcame token resistance from the police.

The assault on Congress came immediately after Trump urged protesters gathered outside the White House to march on the Capitol to support challenges to the electoral count and suggested that he would accompany them. “After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you,” the president said. “We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women.”

The chaos entered the House chamber with a loud shout from the hall outside as Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, was reciting a litany of false claims about the validity of the vote count in his state as part of a planned series of bogus objections to the certified results from Trump supporters in Congress.

Robert Moore, a British foreign correspondent for ITV News, was with the rioters as they burst into the Capitol.

Within minutes, congressional reporter shared images of windows being smashed by the mob, and Trump supporters marauding through the halls, eventually seizing the Senate chamber, and facing off with armed officers at the door of the House.

The far-right YouTuber Elijah Schaffer, who was embedded with the pro-Trump mob, shared footage of the police losing control of the Capitol to the president’s vigilantes.

As the Capitol police were overwhelmed, a source in the Defense Department gave conflicting accounts to reporters as to why a request from Washington’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, for the National Guard to be deployed was not immediately met.

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia announced that he was responding to a request from the mayor to send “members of the Virginia National Guard along with 200 Virginia State Troopers” to the Capitol.

“As we figured out during the BLM protests,” Charlie Savage of the New York Times observed on Twitter, “the thing about calling out the National Guard to quell this riot is that because D.C. is not a state, the commander of those troops would not be Muriel Bowser, D.C.’s elected leader. They would instead be controlled by… Donald Trump.”

At a news conference on Thursday, Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, told reporters that he had tried to deploy Maryland’s National Guard to defend the Capitol after a frantic call for help from House and Senate leaders hiding from the mob, but the Pentagon had repeatedly refused to grant authorization for 90 minutes after the request was made.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester is seen hanging from the balcony in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A member of a pro-Trump mob dropped to the floor of the Senate on Wednesday.

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Later in the afternoon, a defense official told Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post, “The entire D.C. National Guard will be activated today, putting about 1,100 guardsmen on duty tonight.”

Defense officials told the New York Times that the belated order to deploy the National Guard had been approved by Pence, not Trump.

ABC News reported later that “President Trump rebuffed efforts for quite some time to call in the National Guard Wednesday afternoon as chaos escalated at the U.S. Capitol, and steps weren’t made until a few White House officials intervened for ‘the sake of the country.'”

Even when the Capitol police attempted to retake the building from the mob, the officers seemed generally reluctant to use force.

As many observers noted on social networks, the restraint demonstrated by the police during the initial storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump’s supporters stood in stark contrast to the far greater levels of violence routinely inflicted on racial justice protesters over the past year and the mass deployment of the D.C. National Guard in June to protect the Lincoln Memorial days after the killing of George Floyd.

Dre Miller, an activist in Portland, Oregon, who took part in racial justice protests last year, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that he was shocked by how lax the policing was in Washington. “Every night, we were met by violence: tear gas, batons, arrests right away. And that would just be for us out there yelling and vocalizing our frustrations of us being killed,” he said. “But today it wasn’t like that. It was vacant. It was available for them to actually overthrow the Capitol. It’s just wild how different the response is.”

Amid the chaos inside the Capitol building, there was at least one act of deadly violence. One witness tweeted graphic video of a woman wearing a Trump flag bleeding heavily after being shot in a barricaded Capitol hallway.

While the exact circumstances have not yet been confirmed, video of the incident recorded from another angle appeared to show that the woman was climbing through a window that had just been shattered by rioters when she was shot from the other side of a locked door.

Later on Wednesday, NBC News reported that the woman who was shot had died. The woman was later identified by her family in San Diego as Ashli Babbitt, a 14-year Air Force veteran who was a Trump supporter and shared QAnon conspiracy theories online.

After the shooting, dozens of rioters in Trump regalia were filmed casually making their way out of the federal building they had broken into and sacked, past a police officer who held the door open for them. None were arrested. The words “Murder the Media” were scrawled on the door they exited through.

Speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, President-elect Joe Biden called on Trump “to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, Trump did make a halfhearted effort to end the attempted coup he had requested, tweeting a video statement in which he reiterated his false claim that he won the election in a landslide but calling for his supporters to “go home now.”

In the video — which was later removed from Twitter for what the social network called “severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy” — the president was careful not to condemn the mob, however, telling them, “I know how you feel,” and “We love you. You’re very special.”

The Washington Post reported that a man with a megaphone told a crowd of hundreds outside the Capitol: “Hey, everyone, Donald Trump says he wants everyone to go home.”

He was met with loud booing.

The president’s call for “peace” appeared not to reach his supporters outside the Capitol, who attacked reporters and destroyed their equipment.

Early Wednesday evening, Rep. James Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, confirmed that Congress planned to return to the business of counting the electoral votes once the building was secured.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi confirmed that plan a short time later, in a note to colleagues calling the mob attack “a shameful assault” on American democracy, “anointed at the highest level of government.”

In a statement, Sen. Mitt Romney, the Utah Republican who voted to remove Trump from office last year, called on his colleagues to put aside any further objections to the electoral count when the joint session of Congress resumes. Earlier, as lawmakers and reporters were rushed to a secure location, Romney told Jonathan Martin of the New York Times, “This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection.”

Among the elected officials disgusted by the assault on Congress was Vermont’s Republican governor, Phil Scott, who called it “an unacceptable attack on our democracy” and demanded that Trump “resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress.”

Rep. Cori Bush, a newly elected progressive Democrat from Missouri, tweeted a draft resolution calling for the expulsion of Republican colleagues who she said had “incited this domestic terror attack through their attempts to overturn the election.”

Shortly after 8 p.m., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, reopened the Senate debate on the counting of the electoral votes and denounced the riot. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who will soon be the new majority leader after the Democratic sweep in Georgia’s special election, said that January 6 will now take its place in American history, along with December 7, 1941, as “a day that will live forever in infamy.”

During the ensuing debate, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Georgia Republican who lost her seat to Democrat Raphael Warnock on Tuesday, announced that she had changed her mind and decided not to object to the count in Arizona as she had pledged to do on the eve of the election.

Pelosi restarted the House debate shortly after 9 p.m. local time.

After objections to the votes from Arizona were overwhelmingly defeated in both chambers, the counting of electoral votes proceeded until Republicans also objected to the certified returns from Pennsylvania. During a debate over those objections, Rep. Conor Lamb, a Pennsylvania Democrat, chastised his Republican colleagues for inciting violence with their baseless claims of fraud.

“These objections don’t deserve an ounce of respect. Not an ounce! A woman died out there tonight, and you’re making these objections, Lamb said, looking to the Republican side of the chamber.

“We know that that attack today, it didn’t materialize out of nowhere,” he continued. “It was inspired by lies, the same lies you’re hearing in this room tonight, and the members who are repeating those lies should be ashamed of themselves. Their constituents should be ashamed of them.”

After the debate, the House and the Senate overwhelmingly defeated the objection and Pennsylvania’s electoral votes were counted.

The complete tallying of the electoral votes was completed, making Biden’s election official, at 3:40 a.m.

Minutes after Pence declared that Biden would become president in two weeks, Trump — who was temporarily suspended from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for inciting violence — tacitly accepted the end of his presidency, saying “there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” in a message tweeted by his social media aide and former caddy Dan Scavino.

Last updated: Thursday, January 7, 10:19 p.m. EST

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