By Liam McGlynn and Shrida Pandey, News Editor and Online News Editor
// Democrat Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential Election, unseating incumbent President Donald Trump. Trump refused to concede to Biden under the pretense of voter fraud in several states and filed 62 lawsuits aimed towards overturning the results. However, judges across the country ultimately struck down all but one of his lawsuits.
After receiving each state’s electoral vote certification on Dec. 23, both the Senate and the House of Representatives planned on finalizing the election results on Jan. 6 in a joint session of Congress after Vice President Mike Pence counted the electoral votes. Prior to the session, massive crowds of the President’s supporters arrived in Washington D.C. to protest against the result of the election.
Before Congress voted, Trump gave a speech to many of his supporters at 11 a.m. ET where he persisted that the election was rigged and that it was stolen from him. In front of thousands of people, Trump attacked the media, claimed states needed to revote, and demanded that Pence overturn the results.
Trump also encouraged his supporters to march in front of the U.S. Capitol building.
“I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. Today we will see whether Republicans stand strong for the integrity of our elections, but whether or not they stand strong for our country,” Trump said in the speech.
Shortly after his speech, at 1 p.m., hundreds of people gathered around the Capitol while Congress was in session. At around 2:15 p.m., a mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol, interrupting Congress’ session and causing an immediate evacuation of the House Floor.
In response to the threat, Capitol Police evacuated lawmakers, reporters, and other individuals in the building while putting the entire premises under lockdown. Senate aides also shielded the Electoral College votes from the mob allowing for the congressional session to resume later on.
As rioters stormed their way into the Capitol, photos and videos from inside the building spread across social media showing demonstrators looting, vandalizing, and facing off with law enforcement officers. Later on, rioters burst their way into the Senate Chambers, forcing police to deploy tear gas in the Rotunda. With violence across the complex surging, a Capitol Police officer shot a Trump supporter inside the building. By the end of the night, the police reported four deaths, three of which are suspected to be caused by medical emergencies.
During the chaos, a homemade pipe bomb was found at the Republican National Committee. The Democrat National Committee also received a suspicious package, although police have not confirmed it as a bomb.
Both Republican and Democratic congresspeople released statements condemning the violence at the Capitol and calling for the President to denounce the events. Many Democrats also accused Trump of inciting his supporters and ultimately blamed him for the violence.
In response to some of his supporters invading the Capitol building, at 2:18 p.m., the President tweeted in an attempt to ease the tension and calm down his supporters.
“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay Peaceful,” Trump tweeted.
With rioters still in the Capitol, Biden went on national television to further condemn the mob and called on Trump to do more.
“What we’re seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward,” Biden said in his speech.
Soon after, Trump released a video of himself repeating his debunked claims of election fraud while also telling the violent mob to “go home.” However, before signing off in the video, Trump avoided condemning the actions of some of his supporters.
“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,” Trump said.
After a few hours, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook each took down the video in an effort to discourage further violence. Later on in the evening, Twitter temporarily locked the President’s account after he tweeted three statements that were deleted for violating Twitter’s rules. Instagram and Facebook also locked the President’s accounts on their services. On Thursday morning, Facebook and Instagram announced that they had officially locked the President’s account for at least two weeks.
Regardless of Trump’s message, the mob persisted and continued to engage with the Capitol Police. Trump reportedly refused to dispatch the D.C. National Guard, forcing Pence to authorize the mobilization to help regain control of the premises. Other governors from neighboring states also provided support.
Assisted by the FBI Swat team, D.C. National Guard, Maryland National Guard, Virginia National Guard, and D.C police, Capitol Police secured the inside of the Capitol building. To prevent a mob from reforming outside the building, police enforced D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 6 p.m. curfew.
Over the course of the event and its aftermath, police reportedly made 69 arrests connected to the event.
Trump’s inaction to condemn the rioters led many representatives and senators to call for his removal from office. Some members of Congress demanded that Pence and Trump’s cabinet invoke the 25th Amendment.
If Pence and a majority of Trump’s cabinet find Trump unfit for the presidency, under the 25th Amendment, Pence will take over. However, if Trump disputes these claims, two-thirds of the House and Senate will need to vote for his removal.
Many members of Congress want to formally start impeachment proceedings. Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota stated on Twitter that she already began the process.
“I am drawing up Articles of Impeachment. Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office by the United States Senate. We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath,” Omar said in the tweet.
After law enforcement regained control of the Capitol and cleared the complex of the mob, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Pence resumed the sessions in the House and Senate. When Congress finally reconvened, Congressional leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy addressed their respective bodies, condemning the mob’s actions.
The Senate proceeded to vote on the objection to the Arizona electoral votes and rejected the proposal 93 to 6. Similarly, an objection towards Pennsylvania electoral votes did not pass 92 to 7.
Prior to the mob, at least 14 Republican senators planned to object to the certification. These numbers decreased as senators removed their objections, likely due to the violence that occurred prior to the voting.
At approximately 3:40 a.m. on Thursday, over 15 hours after the joint session began, Pence and Congress finished counting the electoral votes, officially certifying Biden’s victory over Trump.
Watch the video below to see how Acalanes High School students reacted.
Barrett, Ted, and Manu Raju. “Capitol is on Lockdown as pro-Trump Demonstrators Try to Break Into the Building” CNN, Cable News Network, 6 Jan. 2021, http://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.htm
Clayton, James. “Trump blocked from Twitter for 12 hours after appeal to rioters.” BBC, 6 Jan. 2021, http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-55569604. Accessed 6 Jan. 2021.
Cooper, Helene, et al. “As the D.C. Police Clear the Capitol Grounds, the Mayor Extends a public Emergency. The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Jan. 2021, http://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/06/us/politics/national-guard-capitol-army.html?smid=tw-nytimes.
Garrison, Joey, and Deirdre Shesgreen.‘Violence never wins’: Congress reconvenes to continue Electoral College count after pro-Trump riot at Capitol. USA Today, 6 Jan. 2021, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2021/01/06/electoral-college-vote-stopped-unclear-when-resume-after-riot/6572441002/.Accessed 6 Jan. 2021.
Naylor, Brian. “Trump Downplays Insurrection But Tells Supporters To ‘Go Home.'” NPR, 6 Jan. 2021, http://www.npr.org/sections/congress-electoral-college-tally-live-updates/2021/01/06/954098712/in-video-trump-sympathizes-with-protesters-but-tells-them-to-go-home. Accessed 6 Jan. 2021.
Shamsian, Jacob, and Sawyer Click. “Police have arrested only 69 people connected to the Capitol building invasion so far, far fewer than thosearrested during BLM protests this summer.” Business Insider, 7 Jan. 2021.
Business Insider, http://www.businessinsider.com/number-of-arrests-capitol-riot-compared-blm-protests-chart-2021-1. Accessed 7 Jan. 2021.
Washington Post Staff. “Woman dies after shooting in U.S. Capitol; D.C. National Guard activated after mob breaches building.” The Washington Post, 6 Jan. 2021, http://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/01/06/dc-protests-trump-rally-live-updates/. Accessed 7 Jan. 2021.