Chaos, violence, 4 dead, as pro-Trump mob occupies US Capitol; Congress confirms Biden win; Trump says his term is ending, transition will be ‘orderly’
Tumult and violence engulfed the U.S. Capitol in some of the most jarring scenes ever to unfold in a seat of American political power, sending shockwaves around the nation and world.
It began as a day of reckoning for President Donald Trump’s futile attempt to cling to power, as Congress took up the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
It fractured into scenes of fear and agony that left a key ritual of American democracy shredded to pieces, Mary Clare Jalonick, Andrew Taylor, Lisa Mascaro and Calvin Woodward report.
A pro-Trump mob overran the Capitol, occupying one hallowed space of American democracy after another. A woman was shot and killed by police, and three others died in apparent medical emergencies.
The nation’s elected representatives scrambled to crouch under desks and don gas masks, while police unsuccessfully tried to barricade the building. Washington’s mayor instituted an evening curfew in an attempt to contain the violence.
The rioters were egged on by Trump, who has spent weeks falsely attacking the integrity of the election and had urged his supporters to descend on Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of Biden’s victory. Some Republican lawmakers were in the midst of raising objections to the results on his behalf when the proceedings were abruptly halted by the mob.
Before dawn today, lawmakers completed their work, confirming Biden won the presidential election. Vice President Mike Pence announced the tally: 306-232.
Trump said ‘there will be an orderly transition’ after Congress concluded the electoral vote count certifying Biden’s victory, Zeke Miller and Jill Colvin report. He had refused to concede the election until the statement was posted to Twitter by an aide immediately after the vote.
Earlier, authorities eventually regained control, as night fell. Heavily armed officers brought in as reinforcements pushed the mob farther away in clouds of tear gas, flash-bangs and percussion grenades.
At least 52 people were arrested, including 26 on the Capitol grounds, and 14 police officers were injured.
Analysis: The riotous mob that laid siege to the Capitol was the product of the destructive forces that Trump has been stirring for years, culminating in the disruption of a democratic ritual that would formally end his unconstitutional bid to stay in power. The stunning scene that unfolded first outside the citadel of democracy, and then in its inner sanctum, was one that Americans are accustomed to watching in distant lands with authoritarian regimes. But the terrifying violence, which included gunshots fired in the Capitol and an armed occupation of the Senate floor, was born from the man who swore an oath to protect the very democratic traditions that a mob tried to undo in his name, Jonathan Lemire reports.
Capitol Breach-Security: Lawmakers are vowing an investigation into how police handled the violent breach at the Capitol. The Democratic chairwoman of the House Administration Committee says the breach “raises grave security concerns” and that her committee will work with House and Senate leaders to review the police response and preparedness, Matthew Daly reports.
An Unimaginable Moment: To see it unspool — to watch the jumbled images ricochet, live, across the world’s endless screens — was a struggle to believe your eyes. But there it was, in the capital city of the United States in early January 2021: a real-time breaking and entering the likes of which the republic has never seen. This was not “the peaceful transfer of power” so lionized by the American tradition. Not even remotely. “This,” Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said, “is an absolute disgrace.” The U.S. seemed at risk of becoming the very kind of country it has so often insisted it was helping: a fragile democracy, Ted Anthony reports.
Republicans: The insurrection offers a new, and perhaps final, moment of reckoning for a Republican Party that has been steadfastly encouraging Trump’s false claims that the November election was stolen. The party must decide whether now is the time to stop enabling Trump’s dangerous behavior. This may have been the darkest day of Trump’s turbulent presidency, but with 13 days left in the world’s most powerful office, he has the time and willingness to continue his assault on democracy, Steve Peoples reports.
Extremists: Experts on far-right extremism say the storming of the U.S. Capitol is a jarring but natural product of years of violence and hateful rhetoric stoked by disinformation and conspiracy theories. Members of the Proud Boys and other far-right groups joined the crowds that formed in Washington to cheer on Trump as he called on them to protest Congress’ counting of Electoral College votes confirming Biden’s victory. Michael Kunzelman and Amanda Seitz report.