Carnage at the Capitol: Four dead, pipe bombs, guns and Molotov cocktails are found and Senators return to the chamber under armed guard – as DC Mayor Muriel Bowser imposes 15 days of emergency measures until Joe Biden’s inauguration
- Chaotic scenes broke out as dozens of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon
- A woman identified as Ashli Babbit of San Diego was shot in the chest and later died
- Babbit was a 14-year veteran of the US Air Force and a fervent Trump supporter, her husband told KUSI
- Police said three other people died on Capitol grounds from ‘individual medical emergencies’ on Wednesday
- Dozens of police were reportedly injured and law enforcement officials say at least two pipe bombs were found near the grounds
- The entire National Guard was deployed to the Capitol and police declared a 6pm curfew for DC
- Capitol buildings were placed on lockdown at 6.45pm due to an unspecified ‘internal security threat’
- Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders were whisked to safety as the violence broke out
- Lawmakers cowering inside the House Chamber put on gas masks as tear gas was fired in the Rotunda
- President-elect Joe Biden called for the ‘mob to pull back’ and said the uprising bordered on sedition
- Trump – after hours of remaining silent – told those inside the Capitol that he loves them and understands their pain but urged them ‘to go home’
- He had initially urged his supporters to march to the Capitol after a rally earlier in the afternoon before only asking them to remain peaceful when violence broke out
- Lawmakers returned to the Capitol at about 8pm to resume the certification proceedings
Ashli Babbitt (pictured) has been identified as the woman who was shot and killed inside the US Capitol when Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the building and violently clashed with police in a bid to stop Joe Biden’s victory being certified
Four people are dead and dozens have been arrested after Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol and clashed with police in a bid to stop Joe Biden’s victory being certified.
Ashli Babbit was the first person confirmed dead after she was shot in the chest when she and dozens of other protesters breached security perimeters at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.
Babbit’s husband revealed her identity to San Diego news outlet KUSI. He said Babbit was a 14-year veteran who served four tours with Air Force as a ‘high level security official’, a fervent supporter of Trump and ‘a great patriot to all who knew her’.
It remains unclear who shot Babbit as the Metropolitan Police Department in DC conducts an investigation into her death. Witness accounts and videos from the incident suggested that she may have been shot by police while trying to climb through a broken window near congressional chambers.
DC Police said that three other people died on Capitol grounds on Wednesday, according to Politico. Those three deaths were related to unspecified ‘individual medical emergencies’.
Several blocks away from the Capitol, a man was stabbed outside the Trump International Hotel, NBC reported.
The National Guard descended on the streets in large numbers to help enforce a 6pm citywide curfew while hundreds of protesters remained on the Capitol grounds. As of 11pm 30 people had been arrested for breaking curfew. Fifteen others were arrested earlier for protest-related activities over Tuesday and Wednesday, police said.
Two pipe bombs found near the Capitol grounds at the headquarters for the Republican and Democratic National Committees were removed, along with a truck filled with long guns and Molotov cocktails.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency in the city for the next 15 days until the inauguration.
Earlier in the day, President-elect Joe Biden called for the ‘mob to pull back’ and said the uprising bordered on sedition.
Trump – after remaining silent for much of the afternoon – posted a video telling his ‘very special’ supporters inside the Capitol that he loves them and understands their pain but urged them ‘to go home’.
He had initially encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol after a rally earlier in the afternoon before asking them only to remain peaceful when violence broke out.
After an hours-long recess, members of the House and the Senate who had been whisked to safety when the siege kicked off returned to the Capitol just before 8pm to resume their Joint Session to certify the Electoral College count of the presidential election.
The lawmakers were seen flanked by armed guards as they made their way back into chambers.
Babbit was shot in the chest on Wednesday afternoon after chaotic scenes broke out when dozens of Trump supporters breached security perimeters at the Capitol. She died several hours later
A suspected pipe bomb which was discovered near Republican National Committee headquarters. Another was reportedly found close to the DNC HQ
An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while Trump supporters gather in front of the Capitol on Wednesday
The DC National Guard was deployed to the streets to help enforce a 6pm curfew
National Guard members line up on the Capitol grounds as protesters continue occupying the area after curfew
Members of the National Guard assist police in dispersing protesters gathered outside the Capitol on Wednesday night
A protester struggles with a riot police officer outside the Capitol building after the 6pm curfew went into effect
Paramedics work to resuscitate a patient near the Capitol after it was stormed by Trump supporters on Wednesday
Just before 8pm lawmakers who had been whisked to safety when the siege kicked off began arriving back at the Capitol to resume the Joint Session to certify the Electoral College count of the presidential election
The lawmakers were seen flanked by armed guards as they made their way into the Capitol
- Chaotic scenes unfolded soon after Trump addressed thousands of protesters at a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol
- After protesters started clashing with law enforcement, Trump tweeted to his supporters to ‘stay peaceful’
- He later praised the mob, saying he ‘loved’ them but telling them to go home before Twitter and Facebook temporarily blocked him from using their sites
- Biden called for the restoration of ‘simple decency’ after the mob delayed Congress from certifying the results of November’s election
- The president-elect stopped short of accusing Trump of treason but said the events ‘bordered on sedition’
- As protesters remained in the Capitol, MAGA fans took to the streets in California, Oregon, New Mexico and Kansas and surrounded Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office
- Lawmakers returned to the Capitol at about 8pm to resume the certification proceedings
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the certification would resume in a letter to Democratic colleagues, writing: ‘We have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use.’
She said she hoped the session, which was expected to go long into the night due to Republican objections of the election, would be shorter.
‘We always knew this responsibility would take us into the night. The night may still be long but we are hopeful for a shorter agenda, but our purpose will be accomplished,’ she said.
Vice President Mike Pence reopened the Senate by condemning the violent siege ‘in the strongest possible terms’ – but did not lay the blame on Trump for inciting the MAGA mob.
‘To those who wreaked havoc in our capitol today, you did not win,’ Pence said. ‘Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.’
The vice president, who is chairing the special Senate session, called it a ‘dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.’
‘But thanks to the swift efforts of the U.S. Capitol Police, federal, state and local law enforcement, the violence was quelled. The Capitol is secured and the people’s work continues,’ Pence said.
But astonishingly – and to the disgust of Republicans including Mitt Romney and every Democrat – some Republicans continued their doomed bid to overturn the election result.
In the Senate, objections were filed in Arizona and Pennsylvania, but both were torpedoed by majority vote.
House Republicans also tried to challenge the results in Georgia, Michigan and Nevada, but didn’t have final support.
Pennsylvania’s vote concluded just before 1am, virtually bringing the 12-hour certification saga to a close.
Capitol police officers point their guns at a door that was vandalized in the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress
Members of congress ran from the floor as police ordered them to evacuate to their offices for their own safety after a mob smashed through police barricades
Paramedics and protesters work together to transport a wounded man on a barrier near the Capitol
Police try to hold back protesters pushing into a doorway at the Capitol on Wednesday
The mostly maskless crowd flooded the halls of the Capitol with little resistance from Capitol Police
Members of congress run for cover as protesters try to enter the House Chamber
A protester walks through Congress carrying Nancy Pelosi’s lectern after storming the Capitol
A Trump supporter posed alongside a statue of President Gerald Ford inside the Capitol
Police deployed tear gas at protesters who refused to step away from barriers outside the White House
Police spray tear gas at a protester who picked up a police barricade in an effort to get closer to the Capitol
The chaotic scenes unfolded at about 3pm, soon after Trump addressed thousands of his supporters and encouraged them to march to the Capitol. The protesters organized via far-right social media sites, including Gab and Parler, telling each other the best routes to avoid police on their way to the Capitol.
As the mob broke down police barricades and stormed into the Capitol, lawmakers cowering inside the House Chamber were told to put on gas masks as tear gas was fired in the Rotunda. Officers at the front door of the chamber had their guns drawn at a protester trying to break down the door.
For those fleeing, it was a race against time: Protesters were getting in as quickly as members of Congress could get out.
One protester occupied the Senate dais and yelled: ‘Trump won that election’. Some protesters even occupied Pelosi’s office, sitting mockingly at a desk.
After protesters started clashing with law enforcement, Trump tweeted to his supporters to ‘stay peaceful’.
‘Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!’ the president wrote.
As the violence escalated, Trump tweeted: ‘I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!’
He did not initially tell the protesters to leave.
Biden on Wednesday evening called for the restoration of ‘simple decency’ after the mob delayed Congress from certifying the results of November’s election.
‘At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times,’ Biden said. He called it ‘an assault on the rule of law like few times we have ever seen it.’
‘I call on this mob to pull back and allow democracy to go forward.
In an address that took less than 10 minutes and was televised against a split screen of the still-occupied Capitol building, Biden attempted to project calm and to say that a deeply divided country can still come together – while also expressing outrage.
He stopped short of accusing Trump of treason but said the events ‘bordered on sedition’.
‘At their best, the words of a president can inspire,’ Biden added. ‘At their worst they can incite.’
Minutes after Biden’s address, Trump posted his own video telling his mob of supporters that he ‘loves’ them, but to ‘go home’. In the same breath he also continued to peddle his baseless claims that the ‘election was stolen’.
‘There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us – from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people,’ he said.
‘We have to have peace. So, go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace.’
The video was later removed by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube because it violated their policies.
The president then posted another tweet reiterating his false claim that the election was stolen and encouraging supporters to ‘remember this day’. The tweet was perceived by some as an attempt to rile up the Capitol crowds.
‘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. ‘Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!’
Twitter removed the tweet for violating its rules.
A rioter holds a Trump flag inside the US Capitol after storming the building. He is standing in front of a painting depicting the Battle of Lake Erie – major US naval victory in the War of 1812
A protester is seen hanging from the balcony in the Senate Chamber
Capitol police detain protesters outside of the House Chamber on Wednesday
Lawmakers were urged to put gas masks on as police fired tear gas to stop the protesters
Rep. David Trone wears a gas mask inside the US Capitol. Lawmakers cowering inside the House Chamber were urged to put on gas masks as tear gas was fired in the Rotunda
Members of Congress are pictured rushing to evacuate the House Chamber as protesters attempted to enter
Lawmakers cower in fear as protesters try to break down the doors of the House Chamber on Wednesday
The storming brought the certification of Joe Biden’s victory to a halt – after Pence said he would defy Trump and refuse to overturn the election single-handed
Supporters of US President Donald Trump roam under the Capitol Rotunda after invading the Capitol building
Supporters of Donald Trump are seen inside the US Capitol after rioters breached security and entered the Capitol
Protesters gesture to U.S. Capitol Police in the hallway outside of the Senate chamber at the Capitol
A supporter of US President Donald J. Trump sits on the desk of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Blood is seen on the floor after a woman was shot and killed inside the Capitol during a riot on Wednesday
Protesters use a a barrier to break down a door at the Capitol on Wednesday
Media members work to pick up equipment damaged in the chaos outside the Capitol
FBI agents arrive on the Capitol grounds to help enforce a 6pm curfew
‘We love you. You are special.’ Trump finally addresses Capitol mob HE unleashed and says ‘Go home now. We have to have peace’
Donald Trump told his mob of supporters that he ‘loves’ them, but to ‘go home’ after they rampaged past police barriers to storm the U.S. Capitol.
But despite calling for his supporters to stand down, he continued to peddle the baseless claims that the ‘election was stolen’ in a video posted to Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
‘There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us – from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people.
‘We have to have peace. So, go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace,’ Trump said.
It came hours after Trump stirred them into a frenzy at his ‘Stop the Steal’ rally, telling them to march on the U.S. Capitol.
The president still has not conceded the election and earlier Wednesday addressed a crowd at the ellipse spouting conspiracy theories that he still had a path to win – if Vice President Mike Pence did his bidding, as well as if GOP lawmakers revolted.
Pence did no such thing.
The chaotic scenes unfolded soon after Trump addressed thousands of protesters and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol. After protesters started clashing with law enforcement following the Capitol breach, Trump tweeted to his supporters to ‘stay peaceful’
Mob smashes through police barriers and wall of tear gas to stop Biden’s victory being certified: How Trump protesters turned Congress into a battlefield
Capitol Police used tear gas as hundreds of people were seen climbing the marble steps outside the building. They banged on the locked doors of the Capitol and smashed the glass in the doors.
Demonstrators fought with police and then forced their way into the building.
Asked how so many people were able to get in, officials said they were focusing their attention on keeping lawmakers inside safe.
One video posted on TikTok appeared to show a group of about four officers standing by as protesters pushed past a barricade near the Capitol building.
The officers did not appear to try to block the stampede, instead walking with it toward the building.
One protester jumped up on the dais, where the president of the Senate presides, and yelled: ‘Trump won that election.’
Several dozen protesters roamed the halls of the Capitol, yelling: ‘Where are they?’
Tear gas was being used by Capitol Police as protesters filled both the House and Senate side of the Capitol.
Another protester in the Senate yelled: ‘Where’s Pence, show yourself!’
The chaos caused the Capitol to go on lockdown and disrupted the certification of the electoral college vote that would cement Biden’s victory.
Mayor Bowser declared a 6pm curfew for the city and said multiple law enforcement agencies would be patrolling the streets. Just before the curfew went into effect she was asked multiple by times by CNN if curfew violators would be arrested, but she refused to give a clear answer.
Bowser said ‘many’ arrests had already been made but did not have a specific number.
As footage started coming out of Capitol Hill being breached by angry Trump supporters, Donald Trump Jr tried to quell the outburst with a tweet – that was critical of Democrats and liberals.
‘This is wrong and not who we are. Be peaceful and use your 1st Amendment rights, but don’t start acting like the other side,’ Trump Jr. wrote. ‘We have a country to save and this doesn’t help anyone.’
Meanwhile, the president continued to direct his rage at Pence, who earlier announced he would not single-handedly overturn the election results from his position of the chair.
‘Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!’ the president tweeted.
The extraordinary breech was a departure from security mishaps of the past. Protesters have routinely disrupted televised hearings while in progress and even events inside the House chamber. But trained Capitol Police are usually able to arrest disruptors and remove them immediately. Often formal charges are never filed.
But in Wednesday’s storming of the building, dozens of people made it by armed police officers and entered the building without going through any security set up to keep out those with weapons or dangerous items.
There were occasions after September 11th when the building was placed on lockdown and people were ordered to leave, but this usually happened when suspicious packages were discovered.
When the building is open, as it was before the pandemic, members of the general public are not allowed to walk unescorted on the second floor where lawmakers enter and exit the legislative chambers.
The protesters were aided by scaffolding constructed for the upcoming inauguration.
In another tense piece of video from inside, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) tweeted video of protesters repeatedly rushing Capitol Police officers in the crypt, in the ground floor part of the building under the rotunda.
‘I like many people voted for President Trump in the 2020 election and hoped for a different result,’ McCaul wrote. ‘But violence and destruction is not the way to express your grievances. This is disgraceful and has to end.’
Trump supporters stand in the Capitol before storming the House Chamber on Wednesday afternoon
A wall of Trump supporters are seen outside the Capitol before crowds breached barriers and stormed inside
Several windows inside the Capitol were shattered during Wednesday’s chaos at the Capitol
Police deploy a stream of tear gas a protesters occupying the Capitol grounds on Wednesday
A woman is pushed into an ambulance near the Capitol on Wednesday evening
Trump’s mob causes chaos nationwide: MAGA fans take to the streets in California, Oregon, New Mexico and Kansas and surround Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office
As the US Capitol was stormed, Trump supporters staged smaller rallies outside statehouses in several cities, including Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.
Protesters swarmed into the Kansas statehouse in Topeka and gathered inside the first floor of the Capitol Rotunda, though the rally remained orderly, television station KSNT reported.
There were no immediate reports of violence, despite the flurry of demonstrations by pro-Trump demonstrators echoing his baseless claims that he was robbed of a re-election victory due to voter fraud.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said on Twitter that he had instructed city agencies to close municipal offices early in Colorado’s state capital ‘out of an abundance of caution’ after about 700 demonstrators gathered at the statehouse downtown.
‘My hope is that this situation will be resolved quickly. Pray for our nation,’ he tweeted.
A major courthouse complex and two other government buildings in Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, were also ordered closed due to protests near the statehouse.
Among those whose daily routines were altered were aides to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, the Republican election official pressured by Trump in a weekend telephone call to ‘find’ enough additional votes for the president to overturn the November victory of President-elect Joe Biden, due to take office in two weeks.
Raffensperger’s spokesman, Walter Jones, said staff left their offices after lunch out of an abundance of caution because of protests. He said Raffensperger was not in the office at the time.
In Salt Lake City, Dana Jones, director of the state Capitol Preservation Board, said she had asked building staff to work from home on Wednesday afternoon on the advice of the Utah Highway Patrol and public safety commissioner, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
The precaution was taken, the newspaper said, in response to a crowd of about 250 pro-Trump demonstrators who posted signs on the Capitol building that read: ‘Stop the steal!’ and ‘Trump won!’
A Utah state police spokesman said security had been beefed up at the Capitol, though he said protesters there were ‘very peaceful,’ the Tribune reported. It said one of its photographers was pepper-sprayed by individuals upset that he was documenting their protest.
Several hundred Trump supporters also staged a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally at the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix, cheering and jeering while exhibiting a guillotine.
MISSOURI: Armed men stand on the steps at the State Capitol after a rally in support of President Donald Trump
ATLANTA: The crowd consisted of around 25 people, some of whom were carrying assault rifles
LA: Christian Angelo Hill, 19, a Black Lives Matter supporter, reacts after being sprayed with an unknown substance during a rally held by U.S. President Donald Trump supporters
OREGON: Protesters hold a rally in support of U.S. President Donald Trump at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem
TEXAS: Jack Finger, of San Antonio, protests the election with supporters of President Donald Trump Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Austin
ATLANTA: Georgia Capitol Police escorted Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger (above) and his staff out of the building shortly before 3pm
‘I won’t betray my oath’: Pence publicly defies Trump’s demand to block Biden’s confirmation
Trump told thousands of supporters just outside the White House that he wanted Pence to ‘come through’ for us and demanded that he reject electoral votes out of hand over that the president claims is ‘fraud.’
He threatened Pence saying ‘I’m not hearing good stories’ and telling him to have ‘courage’ to strike down swing states’ votes – a move which would defy the constitution.
But minutes before arriving on Capitol Hill to preside over the joint session of Congress to certify the election’s outcome, Pence bluntly told lawmakers that he would refuse to obey Trump’s orders.
Pence sent a letter to the 535 senators and representatives on Capitol Hill ahead of his presiding over the Joint Session that will certify Joe Biden’s victory.
In it, he outlined his belief in his role in the proceedings, which he notes is ‘ceremonial’ and adds that it doesn’t include the authority to ‘determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.’
Trump has tried to put the blame on Pence for his expected loss on Wednesday but the president also lacks support among the majority of senators in his own party, which dooms his efforts for a congressional overthrow of the results.
Pence acknowledged Trump’s allegations the election was rigged, of which there has been no proof and no court has upheld, in a likely peace offering to the president.
‘I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of this election,’ he wrote.
Images emerged shortly before of hundreds of protesters descending on the steps of the Capitol after rallying near the White House for President Donald Trump
A Capitol Police officer urged lawmakers to leave the building after top leaders were escorted out
Pence acknowledged Trump’s allegations the election was rigged, which there has been no proof and no court has upheld, in a likely peace offering to the president
Members of the far-right group Proud Boys make ‘OK’ hand gestures indicating ‘white power’ during the chaos
Leigh Ann Luck dressed up as Statue of Liberty shouts as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump protest
Tear gas was being used by Capitol Police as protesters filled both the House and Senate side of the Capitol
Capitol Police spray tear gas at Trump supporters as they try to break through a police barrier
In a letter Wednesday, Pence said, ‘It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution contains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not’
But he noted as vice president he does not have the power from the constitution to decide which electoral votes are counted and which are not.
‘As a student of history who loves the constitution and reveres its Framers, I do not believe that the Founds of our country intended to invest the vice president with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress and no Vice President in American history has ever asserted such authority,’ Pence noted.
He added vice presidents in the past have conducted ‘the proceedings in an orderly manner even where the count resulted in the defeat of their party or their own candidacy’.
‘It is my considered judgement that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,’ he said.
He concluded his letter with a prayer to God: ‘When the Joint Session of Congress convenes today, I will do my duty to see to it that we open the certificates of electors of the several states, we hear objections raised by Senators and Representatives, and we count the votes of the Electoral College for President and Vice President in a manner consistent with our Constitution, laws and history. So Help Me God.’
Pelosi reminded lawmakers that only 11 members from each party were allowed on the House floor at a time due to social distancing. She called out Republicans for having too many lawmakers on the floor
‘The law says voter registration ends on October 5. Democrats said we don’t care what the law says they went to a court got an Obama appointed judge to extend in 18 days,’ Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, a top Trump ally on Capitol Hill, complained of Arizona
Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over the debate. She sanitized the gavel before she used it. Pence had used it when he presided over the Joint Session
REPUBLICANS OBJECT TO ARIZONA’S VOTES
When the certification process got underway shortly after 1pm Wednesday, lawmakers got through Alabama and Alaska, two states that went for Trump, before the first objection was filed for Arizona.
Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, objected to his state’s Electoral College votes going to Biden and Harris. He confirmed that his objection had been signed on to by a US senator.
Democrats in the chamber audibly groaned while droves of Republicans in the chamber stood up and clapped.
The move forced Pence to order the houses out of Joint Session. The senators in the House chamber started moving back toward their side of the US Capitol.
On the House side, during their debate on the Arizona objection, Republican lawmakers used their time to complain about the treatment of the president, particularly the impeachment process and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
They did not offer any proof of voter fraud but complained that voter laws were changed ahead of the November contest, which is not illegal.
‘The law says voter registration ends on October 5. Democrats said we don’t care what the law says they went to a court got an Obama appointed judge to extend in 18 days,’ Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, a top Trump ally on Capitol Hill, complained of Arizona.
Many states had their voter registration deadlines extended because of the coronavirus pandemic – the extension applied to voters of both parties. Other states extended the time period allowing mail-in voting, again because of the pandemic and it applied to all voters.
Democrats argued the election was legally conducted.
‘Under some of the most trying circumstances in our history, our fellow citizens conducted a free and fair election vindicating our founders belief once again that we were capable of self government, and a peaceful transition of power,’ Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff said.
Speaker Pelosi presided over the debate. She sanitized the gavel before she used it. Pence had used it when he presided over the Joint Session.
Pelosi also reminded lawmakers that only 11 members from each party were allowed on the House floor at a time due to social distancing. She called out Republicans for having too many lawmakers on the floor.
MITCH MCCONNELL SLAMS ELECTION ‘CONSPIRACY THEORIES’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shamed Trump and his own Republican colleagues for mounting challenges to the Electoral College vote count, saying their doing so could lead to a ‘death spiral’ of American democracy – and pointing out there’s no real evidence of widespread voter fraud.
‘We’re debating a step that has never been taken in American history, whether Congress should overrule the voters and overturn a presidential election,’ he said on the Senate floor, after Rep Gosar and a batch of GOP senators, including Sen Ted Cruz, objected to Arizona’s Electoral College vote count.
McConnell ridiculed Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in a five-minute speech, which will be one of his last as majority leader, and which he said was about the most important vote of his career.
‘The assertions range from specific, local allegations to Constitutional arguments to sweeping conspiracy theories,’ McConnell said.
He reminded senators that he was supportive of Trump using the country’s legal system, which handed the president and his team loss after loss. And pointed out that these cases were heard by some of the ‘all-star judges whom the president himself nominated’ – including on the U.S. Supreme Court.
McConnell said that every election is plagued by some instances of vote irregularity. ‘And of course that’s unacceptable,’ he said.
McConnell ridiculed President Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in a five-minute speech which will be one of his last as majority leader – and which he said was about the most important vote of his career
The top Senate Republican also said he supported ‘strong state-led voting reforms,’ adding that he didn’t wan tto see ‘last year’s bizarre pandemic procedures’ – like mail-in ballots that gave Democrats an edge – ‘become the new norm.’
‘But my colleagues nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale, the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election,’ McConnell argued. ‘Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break, when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.’
He pointed out that the Constitution gives Congress a ‘limited role.’
‘We simply can’t declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids,’ McConnell said.
Twisting the knife into Trump, McConnell also pointed out that the race between Biden and Trump ‘was not unusually close.’
‘The Electoral College margin was almost identical to what it was in 2016,’ McConnell pointed out.
‘If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side our democracy would enter a death spiral,’ McConnell warned. ‘We’d never see a whole nation accept an election again.’
‘Every four years there would be a scramble for power at any cost,’ he added.
TRUMP’S STOP THE STEAL RALLY
This came after Trump excoriated ‘weak’ Republicans and demanded fealty from Pence to a rally crowd near the White House on Wednesday, where he demanded Pence and Congress overturn the election results that lead to his defeat.
In an extraordinary speech, Trump once again called his election ‘rigged’ just minutes before a joint meeting of Congress was to begin counting the certified electoral votes that have him losing to Joe Biden.
Trump referred to votes that came in after 10pm election night – which consisted of in-person and mail-in ballots and denied him the lead he said he and his pollsters anticipated – as ‘these explosions of bullsh*t.’
Members of the crowd immediately chanted ‘Bullshi*t!’ in response.
‘Our election was over at 10 in the evening,’ Trump said.
Trump mocked his party’s 2012 Republican presidential nominee, now-Sen. Mitt Romney, for conceded his own race back then.
‘We will never concede. It doesn’t happen,’ he said – although losing candidates have conceded for generations. ‘There’s never been anything like this. It’s a pure theft.’
Trump’s comments amounted to a declaration of war on elements of his party, after his lawyer Rudy Giuliani demanded ‘trial by combat’ against opponents of his claims of election fraud.
Trump spoke to a crowd of several thousand – but referred to them as consisting of ‘hundreds of thousands’ of supporters fathered on a lawn south of the White House that doesn’t hold that many.
He said his election was ‘stolen by the fake news media. That’s what they’ve done and that’s what they’re doing.’
Trump addressed his thousands of his supporters near the White House Wednesday at his ‘Save America’ rally and declared war on his own party, calling Republicans who opposed him ‘weak’
Hours after a humiliating defeat in one Georgia Senate race and the prospect of losing another, Team Trump showed no sign of conceding
A stand was being erected at the base of the US Capitol as a pro-Trump supporter holds a flag, hours before Congress meets to certify the electoral college vote for Biden
A crowd of Trump supporters started gathering outside of the White House for a rally on Wednesday
He urged his supporters to march down to the Congress, which was to commence the count at 1 pm.
‘We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,’ he said, speaking from behind a pane of bullet-proof material.
He turned up the heat on Pence, a potential 2024 contender who will preside over the count. His role is set in the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act, and is largely ceremonial.
‘Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution,’ he said.
Trump acknowledged that he has tried to pressure Pence into rejecting votes from states he lost, quoting from a conversation he has denied happened.
‘All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to re-certify and we become president and you are the happiest people,’ he told his fans, who cheered ‘Stop the Steal!’ at times.
‘I said Mike, that doesn’t take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage. And then we’re stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot and we have to live with that,’ he said of Biden.
‘If we’re wrong we will be made fools of, but if we’re right a lot of them will go to jail. Let’s have trial by combat,’ he said, without explaining exactly what he meant by combat
Donald Trump Jr, the president’s eldest son, demanded that Republican Party lawmakers in Congress ‘be the hero, not the zero’ and refuse to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory
Thousands of supporters of President Trump are seen above near the Washington Monument for the ‘Save America’ rally on Wednesday
Trump touted his own vote total, but denied Biden’s was real.
‘And by the way, does anybody believe that Joe had 80 million votes?’ Trump asked rhetorically. ‘Does anybody believe that? He had 80 million computer votes. It’s a disgrace,’ Trump said.
His mention of the pandemic came in terms of his own race, where millions voted by mail as thousands battled infections in a year more than 300,000 Americans died of COVID-19.
‘They’ve used the pandemic as a way of defrauding the people in a proper election,’ Trump said.
‘Eight weeks. I want to go back eight weeks. Let’s go back eight weeks,’ he mused at one point, as he described a conversation with an unnamed official who told him that he would be lock to win in 2024.
Trump repeatedly couched his demands not as an effort to overturn the votes of the people, but as a legal effort.
‘Somebody says: Well we have to obey the Constitution,’ Trump said. ‘And you are, because you’re protecting our country and you’re protecting the Constitution so you are,’ he said.
He said it would protect the country from having what he called ‘an illegitimate president.’
‘The states were defrauded. They were given false information,’ Trump claimed.
During various tangents, he complained about how he is treated on social media, such as when ‘I get a flag’ on his tweets. ‘I don’t care about Twitter, Twitter’s bad news, he said afterward.
He went after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell several times, including for not going along with his proposal to change communications laws.
‘I helped Mitch get elected,’ he said of the longtime incumbent.
‘And then all of a sudden you have something like this,’ he said, going after ‘weak Republicans’ and ‘pathetic Republicans’ – despite a top official in Georgia blaming him for the likely defeats of two Senate Republican incumbents.
He also called out Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) after her comment that failing to accept the electors certified by states would violate the Constitution.
‘The Liz Cheneys of the world, we’ve got to get rid of them,’ Trump said.
‘Brian Kemp – vote him the hell out of office please,’ Trump said of the Georgia governor.
He said Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger had ‘no clue’ what was going on, but then said ‘maybe’ he was with the other side – the Democrats.
‘I can’t believe this guy was a Republican,’ said Trump. ‘He loves recording telephone conversations,’ Trump said – mentioning a leaked call where Trump can be heard asking him to ‘find’ 11,780 votes to make him the winner.
‘People love that conversation, because it says what’s going on,’ Trump said.
Donald Trump Jr (left), the president’s eldest son, kisses his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle (right), before addressing the rally on Wednesday
Donald Trump Jr., claimed there were 100,000 people there but images showed far fewer and he bashed elected Republicans who have refused to go along with his father’s claims of frau
Trump also complained about the Supreme Court, which failed to take up a Texas lawsuit he sought to join, and even his former attorney general Bill Barr, who said before leaving his post there wasn’t sufficient fraud to change the outcome.
‘I’m not happy with the Supreme Court. They look to rule against me. I picked three people. I fought like hell for one in particular,’ Trump inveighed.
‘You know I read a story in one of the newspapers recently, how I control the three Supreme Court Justices. I control them. They’re puppets. I read it about Bill Barr – that he’s my personal attorney, that he’ll do anything for me.
‘But he denied pulling Barr’s strings’And I said, you know, it really is genius, because what they do is that, and it makes it really impossible for them to ever give you a victory, because all of a sudden Bill Barr changed if you hadn’t noticed. I like Bill Barr but he changed because he didn’t want to be considered my personal attorney, and the Supreme Court. They ruled against me so much you know why? Because the story is, I haven’t spoken to any of them. Any since virtually they got in, but the story is that they’re my puppet, right, that they’re puppets. And now that the only way they can get out of that – because they hate that it’s not good on the social circuit. And the only way they get out is to rule against Trump. So let’s rule against Trump and they do.’
‘You know I read a story in one of the newspapers recently, how I control the three Supreme Court Justices. I control them. They’re puppets. I read it about Bill Barr – that he’s my personal attorney, that he’ll do anything for me.’
But he denied pulling Barr’s strings’And I said, you know, it really is genius, because what they do is that, and it makes it really impossible for them to ever give you a victory, because all of a sudden Bill Barr changed if you hadn’t noticed. I like Bill Barr but he changed because he didn’t want to be considered my personal attorney, and the Supreme Court. They ruled against me so much you know why? Because the story is, I haven’t spoken to any of them. Any since virtually they got in, but the story is that they’re my puppet, right, that they’re puppets. And now that the only way they can get out of that – because they hate that it’s not good on the social circuit. And the only way they get out is to rule against Trump. So let’s rule against Trump and they do.’
Giuliani said, ‘If we’re wrong we will be made fools of, but if we’re right a lot of them will go to jail. Let’s have trial by combat,’ he said, without explaining exactly what he meant by combat.
‘I’m willing to stake my reputation, the president is willing to stake his reputation on the fact that we’re going to find criminality there,’ said the former New York mayor. Trump and his allies have suffered dozens of losses in state and federal courts with suits charging election fraud.
He spoke to thousands of cheering supporters on the Ellipse south of the White House. A permit was for 30,000 people.
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., claimed there were 100,000 people there but images showed far fewer.
He bashed elected Republicans who have refused to go along with his father’s claims of fraud.
‘The people who did nothing to stop the steal — this gathering should send a message to them. This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party. This is the Republican Party that will put America first,’ he said.
His girlfriend, former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, also spoke.
Eric Trump (right), the president’s son, and his wife, Lara Trump, raise their fists in front of thousands of supporters near the White House on Wednesday
A militia-like group is seen making their way to Trump’s rally on Wednesday morning
Trump supporters gather near the White House and watch the rally on a big screen set up nearby
A woman is seen holding a sign that reads ‘Trump is the party’ as the president’s supporters gather on the Washington Monument grounds
Trump supporters braved cold temperatures in Washington, DC, on Wednesday hours before the start of planned demonstrations
A Trump supporter is seen with a protective vest decorated with Trump badges at Wednesday’s rally
Trump was expected to address his supporters later in the morning during a rally on the Ellipse, just south of the White House
United States Park Police are seen above arresting a man near the Washington Monument on Wednesday
After claiming fraud in Trump’s election, John Eastman claimed fraud in the count Tuesday night, which allowed Rev. Raphael Warnock to be called as the winner in one runoff and has Democrat Jon Ossoff leading in another.
Explaining how the fraud he claims occurred happened, Eastman said: ‘You know the old way was to have a bunch of ballots sitting in a box under the floor … They put those ballots in a secret folder in the machines, sitting there waiting until they know how many they need … I can now in that machine match those unvoted ballots with an unvoted voter and put them together in the machine. How do we know that happened last night in real time? You saw when it went to 99 per cent of the vote total, and it stopped.’
He pointed to a point late in the vote count while counties were still tabulating votes – a version of Trump’s complaint that he led in early returns on election night in November. Last night, Republicans led until addition in-person votes came in in populous Democratic-leaning counties ‘That means they were unloading the ballots from that secret folder,’ he claimed.
At least 10 people were arrested for gun possession crimes and other violations and others were seen clashing with counter-demonstrators.
One man from North Carolina was detained after he was caught carrying a gun without a license.
The man rode into the capital on a bus which was stopped by police near Ninth Street and Constitution Avenue NW.
Police boarded the bus and confiscated a rifle and a handgun as well as a drum magazine that holds additional ammunition.
Many in the crowd were photographed not wearing masks and gathered in tight quarters, shoulder to shoulder, despite the raging pandemic and the nationwide surge in the number of coronavirus cases.