Congress has resumed debate as part of the process of formalize the election of Joe Biden on Wednesday night, hours after hundreds of supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon to interrupt the process.
The Senate rejected by a 93-6 vote an objection to Arizona’s 11 electoral votes, which went to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Arizona Congressman Paul Kosar and Texas Senator Ted Cruz had submitted the objection before the chaos erupted on Capitol Hill at about 2 p.m. Wednesday.
The stunning attack brought a halt to that process as Capitol Police worked to both stop the flood of trespassers and protect the legislators.
Police evacuated lawmakers and struggled for more than three hours to clear the Capitol of Trump supporters, who surged through the halls and rummaged through offices in shocking scenes of chaos and mayhem.
One woman died after being shot during the mayhem, Washington police said. The FBI said it had disarmed two suspected explosive devices.
The insurrection lasted well after sunset Wednesday, with the Maryland, Virginia and DC National Guards called into clear out the Capitol. Lawmakers were sent into hiding, some barricading inside the chamber for a time as the marauders moved in.
“My staff and I are safe and currently in lockdown,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said. “The storming of the U.S. Capitol is a stain on American democracy. Make no mistake—this disgraceful violence will not stop the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20.”
Capitol Police were overwhelmed by the mob, who smashed their way inside the heart of American democracy. Several insurrectionists were seen, at one point, occupying the Senate chamber.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a citywide curfew starting at 6 p.m. National Guard troops, FBI agents and U.S. Secret Service were deployed to help overwhelmed Capitol police, and Guard troops and police pushed protesters away from the Capitol after the curfew took effect.
Thirteen of the thugs were arrested with weapons. Shots were fired from inside the Capitol, though it wasn’t immediately clear how many shots and whom was fired upon.
Before the Senate resumed debate just after 8 p.m. on Jan. 6, Vice President Mike Pence expressed remorse over the day’s events.
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today – you did not win,” Pence said as the session resumed. “Let’s get back to work,” he said, drawing applause.
“We will certify the winner of the 2020 election,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell added, calling the assault by Trump supporters a “failed insurrection.”
After about two hours of debate in prime time, the Senate overwhelmingly rejected the Gosar-Cruz objection to Arizona. The only Senators who voted to support the objection were all Republican supporters of Trump — Cruz; Missouri Senator Josh Hawley; Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith; Kansas Senator Roger Marshall; Louisiana Senator John Kennedy; and Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville.
The House of Representatives was expected to vote on the Arizona objection on or about 11 p.m. Wednesday, and likewise is expected to reject the objection. After that vote, the electoral vote certification process will resume.
Back on the House Floor.
To finish the job we started.
They. Will. Not. Win.
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) January 7, 2021
Bush, Obama appalled
The most recent former commanders in chief issued statements condemning the Capitol violence.
“This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election,” former President George W. Bush, a Republican, said, without mentioning Trump by name.
“History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation,” former President Barack Obama Obama, a Democrat, said.
Trump had addressed thousands of his supporters earlier in the morning at a rally in Washington.
Soon after, House and Senate members were evacuated as those carrying Make America Great Again paraphernalia brawled with police officers who were barricading the crowds out of the nation’s capital, Reuters reports.
“The cornerstone of our democracy is the peaceful transfer of power,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “We must call this what it actually is: a failed attempt at a coup. This is the final chapter of an incompetent, cruel, and divisive administration that has trampled on the Constitution and the rule of law at every turn, and we won’t let President Trump, the members of Congress who enable him, or the lawless mob that stormed our nation’s Capitol steal our democracy. The election results are clear and the will of the American people will be carried out.”
New York City elected officials were tweeting from the scene telling Twitter users they had were in safe locations and condemning the actions of conservative demonstrators they saw as disrupting a Democratic election.
Oh…I’m a little nervous now. They’re trying to get into the building here. https://t.co/Ss43HIrFmP
— Grace Meng (@Grace4NY) January 6, 2021
After being in the House chamber to certify the results of a fair and free election, I am now sheltering in place.
The President and every single Republican who incited and encouraged this behavior must denounce it immediately.
— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) January 6, 2021
The media often portrays activists on the left as violent agitators. When was the last time a cabal of left-wing activists stormed into the Capitol in a violent attempt to disrupt a presidential vote count in real time. Enough with the moral equivalence. https://t.co/HjsZ5BQelz
— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) January 6, 2021
A short walk from the rally, hundreds of Trump supporters overturned barricades and clashed with police on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol where Congress was meeting, clambering onto the structures erected for Biden’s inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20 to unfurl Trump flags and gathering on the Capitol steps. Police used teargas and pepper spray on some of the protesters.
Trump, who has spent much of his time since the Nov. 3 election trying to overturn the results, falsely said he won as he spoke on an outdoor stage framing the White House, which Biden is due to move into in two weeks.
Crowds gathered at the so-called “Save America March” wore Trump-approved red baseball caps and cheered as Trump repeated the groundless conspiracy theories that have consumed his final days in office — a period in which coronavirus infections have surged throughout the United States as the pandemic worsens.
“You don’t concede when there’s theft involved,” Trump said. “Our country has had enough and we will not take it any more.”
For more than an hour, he aired familiar grievances with the news media and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival from the 2016 election, and delighted the crowd by calling Democratic victories the product of what he called “explosions of bullshit.”
Congress was due to confirm Biden’s victory on Wednesday. Many of Trump’s fellow Republicans have promised a stonewalling effort that could stretch proceedings past midnight but was almost certain to fail.
This is a developing story; check with amNY.com for results.
With reporting from Reuters