Updated: 4:35 p.m. The U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. was under siege on Wednesday as pro-Trump rioters overwhelmed security, breached the Senate chambers and stalled the planned count of Electoral College votes. Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives were rushed to safety.
As night fell on Washington D.C., police ringed the Capitol and appeared to have restored order.
Security broke down at about 2:15 p.m. eastern time. Three hours later rioters continued to occupy Congress. The U.S. National Guard had been activated and there was a dusk to dawn curfew in place.
District 14 U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, who represents the coast, said the day's extraordinary events would not stop the Congress from certifying election results.
“More than 40 years ago, as I lay bleeding from five gunshot wounds on an air strip in the Guyanese jungle not knowing if I would live or die, I swore that if I did survive I would dedicate my life to public service. I thought of that moment today, when the U.S. Capitol was stormed by a mob of Trump rioters emboldened by the President fomenting a coup d’état," she said in a prepared statement released Wednesday afternoon. "My colleagues and I who were in the Capitol as the rotunda was breached and tear gas filled the air were evacuated to a safe location, where we remain.
"This is a dark day for American democracy," she wrote. Speier called for Trump's removal under provisions of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.
Some Republican representatives — even those who supported the president’s erroneous claims of victory in the November election — did not mince words on social media as they struggled to describe what they were seeing from secured locations.
“This is a coup attempt,” said Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger over Twitter.
The mob was not peaceful. Television showed rioters fighting with police. CNN reported that one woman had been shot and at least one policeman injured.
The violence followed an angry screed from President Donald J. Trump, who said he would never concede despite losing the election on Nov. 3. At 4:20 p.m. eastern time he released a brief statement apparently attempting to disperse the crowd, telling them to "go home," but it was a mixed message at best. Later, Twitter suspended the president's social media account.
As the riot continued in and around the Capitol, President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation. He called unfolding events an “Unprecedented assault, unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times.
“America is so much better than what we are seeing today,” he said.