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Capitol Building Deemed Secure, Hours After Mob Storming

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JANUARY 6, 2021

The sergeant-at-arms, the top security official at the Capitol, announced that the building was secure, hours after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building on Wednesday. – Anna Moneymaker/NY Times

Lawmakers will resume counting Electoral College votes on Wednesday, hours after a mob of Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said as she vowed that the assault would not “deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden.”

In a letter to colleagues, Ms. Pelosi said she had reached that decision after consulting with her leadership team and a series of calls with the Pentagon, the Justice Department and Vice President Mike Pence. She made no mention of the president. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said that the vote would resume at 8 p.m. Eastern.

The police drew guns as a mob forced entry on Wednesday. – J. Scott Applewhite/AP

“We always knew this responsibility would take us into the night,” Ms. Pelosi wrote. “We also knew that we would be a part of history in a positive way today, despite ill-founded objections to the Electoral College vote. We now will be part of history, as such a shameful picture of our country was put out to the world, instigated at the highest level.”

Violence overtook the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, when a mob loyal to President Trump stormed the building, halting Congress’s counting of the votes as the police evacuated lawmakers in a scene of violence, chaos and disruption that shook the core of American democracy.

The sergeant-at-arms, the top security official at the Capitol, announced that the building had been secured around 5:40 p.m.

The unrest prompted Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington to declare a citywide curfew from 6 p.m. Wednesday night to 6 a.m. Thursday morning. The Army activated the District of Columbia National Guard — 1,100 troops — in response to a request from the mayor, an Army official said.

The chaos began around 2:15 p.m., as the House and Senate debated a move by a faction of Republicans to overturn the election results, security rushed Vice President Mike Pence out of the Senate chamber and the Capitol building was placed on lockdown.

In a scene of unrest common in authoritarian countries but seldom witnessed in the history of the United States capital, hundreds of people in the mob barreled past fence barricades outside the Capitol and clashed with officers. Shouting demonstrators mobbed the second floor lobby just outside the Senate chamber, as law enforcement officials placed themselves in front of the chamber doors.

For a time, senators and members of the House were locked inside their respective chambers. Images posted on social media showed at least one person took to the rostrum of the House chamber to declare his support for Mr. Trump.

“This is what you’ve gotten, guys,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, yelled as the mayhem unfolded in the Senate chamber, apparently addressing his colleagues who were leading the charge to press Mr. Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.

“This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection,” Mr. Romney said later.

Mr. Biden responded to the violence on Wednesday, saying, “I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.”

In a brief video posted to his Twitter account shortly after 4 p.m., Mr. Trump repeated his baseless claim that “the election was stolen” and spoke in sympathetic and affectionate terms to members of the mob, before advising them to “go home.” “We love you,” he added.

The posting, which Twitter later removed after locking the president’s account, came hours after Mr. Trump appeared at a rally in which he exhorted his supporters to go to the Capitol to register their discontent.

The extraordinary day in Washington laid bare deep divisions both between the two parties and within Republican ranks, when the ceremonial counting of electoral votes that unfolds every four years in Congress turned into an explosive spectacle.

As officers and members of the mob clashed outside, lawmakers had been debating an objection to the certification of Arizona electors, ensconced in their respective chambers. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, warned of a “death spiral” for democracy, while Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, listed a litany of accusations of election fraud with little evidence.

On Wednesday evening, former President George W. Bush was also among the high-profile Republicans who sharply condemned what he called “mayhem” and a “violent assault on the Capitol.”

This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic,” he said in a statement.


Courtesy/Source: NY Times

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