Democrats and Republicans alike are condemning the violent attempted takeover of the U.S. Capitol building last week by supporters of President Donald Trump, who were attempting to stop a vote that would certify the 2020 presidential election results and name Joe Biden the next president. The mob broke in to the Capitol, which resulted in the death of a Capitol police officer, the shooting death of a rioter by police, and three other deaths deemed to be medical in nature.
Now Trump has been impeached by the House for a second time on a vote of 232-197, with 10 Republicans joining with the Democrats.
Next Democrats want a trial in the Senate and Trump’s removal over claims that he incited the riot, but with President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration just a week away, Trump’s future, and some the details of the riot, remain murky.
Thousands of Trump supporters gathered in Washington, D.C. on January 6 for a pre-planned rally to protest what Trump and others have said was a landslide election victory by Trump that was stolen by Democrats largely through fraudulent ballots. The date was chosen to coincide with the certification of the election results by a joint session of Congress, just down the road from the rally.
At around noon, while the House and Senate met in the Capitol building to debate Republican objections to counting the electoral votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania, Trump was giving a more than hour long speech to his supporters in the Ellipse, near the White House.
In that speech Trump again said the election had been stolen and he implored Vice President Mike Pence to step in and stop the certification of the electoral votes, which Pence had already said he had no authority to do. He also encouraged the crowd to march to the Capitol to pressure senators and representatives to reject votes from some states.
“We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated,” Trump said. “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.
“We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women,” he said. “We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
During his speech, trouble began when police responded to reports of a potential explosive device at the Republican National Committee headquarters, which turned out to be a pipe bomb. Another pipe bomb was also discovered at the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Nearby, police discovered a vehicle with materials for 11 molotov cocktails inside.
While Trump continued to speak, rioters were already overwhelming Capitol police and breaking through barriers, pushing police closer to the building. Calls for more police officers began at this point.
At around 1 p.m. Vice-President Pence released a letter saying he can’t interfere with the Electoral College count, while Congress held a joint session and heard official objections from Republicans before separating to their separate chambers for the debate. Outside, the riot was growing more intense.
At around 2:11 p.m. rioters broke into the Capitol building through a door and a broken window. Soon afterward, the House and Senate were each called to recess and Pence and Pelosi are removed for their protection, while other members of Congress are taken to safe areas or shelter in place elsewhere.
Police request additional officers and states send National Guardsmen, and at 2:38 Trump sends a tweet in an effort to calm the crowd.
“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our country. Stay peaceful!” the tweet said.
At 3:13 p.m. Trump sent another tweet calling for calm.
“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are theParty of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thanks you!” he said.
At around 3:15 p.m., Capitol police shoot Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, as she tried to force entry into the Speaker’s Lobby near the House chambers.
Shortly after 4 p.m., Biden holds a press conference asking Trump to demand an end to the riot, and about 15 minutes later, Trump released a video on Twitter asking rioters to go home and reiterating that the election was stolen.
“We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt,” he said. “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.”
Babbitt was pronounced dead at around 5:45 p.m., but sometime during the violence, a Capitol police officer named Brian D. Sicknick was injured “while physically engaging with protesters,” according to the department.
He had returned to his division office and collapsed. He died on January 7.
Police believe he had been hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, although as of January 13, details on how and where that happened had not been released.
The Capitol was cleared by 8 p.m. January 6 and the House and Senate reconvened and eventually held a joint vote and certified the election, with Biden winning 306-232.
Now, one week since the riot, Democrats have called for Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would declare Trump unfit to serve and make Pence the acting president. Pence has since rejected that idea, saying it would be bad for the country.
Democrats did get their impeachment in the House, since they control that body and the measure only required a simple majority.
But impeachment in the Senate, which for now is controlled by Republicans, and where the measure would require a 2/3 vote, is unlikely in the short-term. But some Democrats have said they should wait until late in January when control would switch to the Democrats and their odds would increase somewhat.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t publicly said where he stands on the impeachment, but reports from unnamed sources claim that he has said he is OK with the impeachment moving forward as a way to be rid of the problem of Trump in his party.
Since the riot, President Trump’s accounts have been banned permanently from Twitter, indefinitely from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitch, and pages or organizations supporting Trump have been banned from online sites as well.
Some banks have also said they won’t process payments to Trump or anyone who supported the idea of objecting to the vote, and online providers like Google, Microsoft and Amazon have said they won’t host sites that encourage supporters of Trump.
Investigators from the FBI have made dozens of arrests and are seeking to make many more. Information on the individuals they’re seeking is available at https://www.fbi.gov/
By Dave Taylor