WASHINGTON — Chaos erupted in the nation’s capital as supporters of President Donald Trump swarmed the Capitol building, prompting Vice President Mike Pence to be swept to a secure location and the Senate chamber to be evacuated.
The Associated Press reported that one person was shot and taken to a hospital.
Thousands of protesters had gathered at the National Mall earlier to protest the election results. At a rally about an hour before the protesters broke through police lines at the Capitol, Trump had urged them to go to the building.
“We’re going to try and give our Republicans,” he said. “… the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
Trump later tweeted asking protesters to “stay peaceful.”
Trump has unsuccessfully tried to overturn election results in six battleground states through dozens of failed lawsuits, falsely claiming the election was stolen despite no evidence of widespread fraud. Although several Republican legislators have indicated they will object to the certification of electoral votes for Biden, the campaign lacks the votes needed to overturn the results.
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- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asked for the National Guard to clear and secure the Capitol, according to a person familiar with the situation not authorized to speak on the record.
- U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., texted “shots fired” to a USA TODAY Network reporter at 2:46 p.m. ET while the U.S. Capitol was breached by protesters. It was unclear what Burchett was hearing, whether it was gunshots, flash bangs, tear gas or something else causing the sound. Burchett said he was in the House chamber.
- Washington, D.C., has instituted a curfew of 6 p.m. through 6 a.m.
- Dozens of protesters, many wearing red hats and holding “Trump” flags, could be seen walking through the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, according to live video streaming from C-SPAN.
- At earlier rallies on the Mall, most of the early crowd shunned face coverings despite the nationwide surge in coronavirus cases, though some wore red “Make America Great Again” masks. “USA” and “stop the steal” chants rippled through the area. Music blared and people stumped for the president with megaphones. Many donned red, white and blue apparel, and waved “Trump 2020” flags.
- Meanwhile in Kansas, Trump supporters moved into the statehouse. And in Georgia, the Secretary of State was reportedly evacuated.
As Trump’s speech concluded, a group of about two dozen people moved in on the U.S. Capitol as debate over certifying the election was taking place inside. Several flash-bang grenades were launched. A stretcher was seen being taken through the crowd as tensions flared. Behind them, a huge throng continued to swell, with a reporter estimating more than 1,000 pushing up against the inauguration stage set up outside the Capitol building.
The crowd soon broke through security fencing and breached the building. The Capitol was locked down and Pence was evacuated.
Terry Gainer, former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police who also served as the Senate’s sergeant-at arms, described Wednesday’s protests as unprecedented in four decades in law enforcement.
“It’s dangerous,” Gainer said. “This is a much more hateful crowd incited by the president, himself. It’s definitely something new in our business.”
– Kevin Johnson, 2:20 p.m. ET
Trump once again repeated his repudiated claims of a rigged election, blaming the “fake news media,” “weak Republicans,” and the tech giants. Trump also rejected early results from Tuesday’s election that saw Democrats leading in both Senate runoff elections in Georgia.
“This year they rigged the election, they rigged it like they never did before,” Trump said, citing unfounded examples.
Legal challenges, however, have been consistently rejected in several courts. Trump’s Homeland Security and Justice departments have said there is no evidence of significant, widespread voter fraud.
But Trump again urged Vice President Mike Pence to reject the Electoral College count, which Pence has no legal right to do.
“We will never concede,” Trump said. “We will stop the steal.”
– John Bacon, 12:20 p.m. ET
Chad Heuer, 45, said he traveled from southern Michigan to watch Trump speak because he wants members of Congress to listen to what Trump supporters say.
“We have a constitution. Let’s uphold it,” Heuer said.
Michele Haynes from Las Vegas, unwilling to accept the reality that Biden will become president, said she’s “sure there are other options” for Trump to remain in office regardless of what happens in Congress. She said Americans won’t accept Biden as president.
“They have more,” she said of allegations of voter fraud. “It’s going to be revealed.”
– Ryan Miller, 11:35 a.m. ET
At Black Lives Matter Plaza, just blocks from the White House, two counter protesters camped out between police barricades playing “FDT” by rapper YG.
Sean Davis, 20, and Kayla Buie, 19, stood before a line of Black Lives Matter and rainbow flags, trading insults with passing groups of Trump supporters. Davis, a chef who has been unemployed since the beginning of the pandemic, said the couple drove from New York on Tuesday night to show their support.
“At first I wasn’t going to come, but then everything Trump was doing it goes against our political system,” he said. “It’s more like tyranny.”
– N’dea Yancey-Bragg, 10:50 a.m. ET
Sherri Lynn Womack, a member of the Lee County board of education in North Carolina, said she traveled to Washington to demand better election security and stronger voter ID laws. She cited what she believes are “suspicious” videos of ballot counting in Georgia.
“I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists,” she said. “But these are legitimate questions that need to be asked.”
The Trump campaign is falsely claiming that surveillance camera footage captured election workers in Georgia adding thousands of illegal ballots that were brought into an Atlanta facility in suspicious “suitcases” on election night. State officials said the full video shows the suitcases were actually standard containers used to secure ballots.
Meanwhile, David Tate, 32, a truck driver from New Hampshire, said he drove 14 hours because he doesn’t want his three children to grow up under a Biden administration. He said he doesn’t believe Biden could have gotten the amount of votes he did because of the massive crowds Trump drew compared to the smaller events held by Biden.
“It’s kind of our right and our duty as American citizens to stand up against this naked treason,” he said. Biden, however, did not host large events at the behest of the public health experts who urged Americans to avoid large gatherings.
– N’dea Yancey-Bragg, 9:25 a.m. ET
Among those on the National Mall was Angela Strong, 41, a sixth-generation Texan who said she had ancestors on the Mayflower and others who fought in the Civil War.
“If they were willing to sacrifice everything to defend liberty and freedom, I could come down to support the cause for freedom,” Strong said. She said debate has been stifled in America, and people who disagree can’t have a conversation without arguing.
Strong said she couldn’t speak to Trump’s claims of voter fraud because Texas was not that close of a race, but added that concerns raised by people in other states such as Pennsylvania should be heard. Experts have agreed,however, that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Pennsylvania or elsewhere.
“If their citizens and legislators are questioning it in any contested state, it shouldn’t be ignored,” she said. “We have to give those voices the opportunity to say how they feel and why it is they feel that way.”
– Ryan W. Miller, 8:25 a.m. ET
Crowds of President Donald Trump’s supporters began gathering Tuesday in Washington, and D.C. police announced six protest-related arrests.
The Metropolitan Police Department detained three men and two women on charges ranging from carrying a pistol without a license to assault of a police officer, according to a spokesman. The U.S. Park Police also made one arrest, the spokesman said.
Hundreds of people had gathered during the day on Freedom Plaza near the White House, many waving Trump and American flags. Vendors ringing the plaza sold flag-themed hats and shirts emblazoned with sayings from “Stop the steal” to “Trump is my president.”
– Ryan W. Miller and Trevor Hughes, 12:05 a.m. ET
Congress’ count of the Electoral College, a normally symbolic affair affirming the president-elect’s victory, is set to be a contentious, lengthy process when the House and Senate convene in a joint session to count the electoral votes on Wednesday.
In an effort that has divided the Republican Party, over a dozen Senate Republicans and at least 50 House Republicans are set to object to the counting of electoral votes from states that Trump contested after Election Day. No Democrats are expected to object to the results.
Trump has urged Republican lawmakers to join the objections, but the effort is unlikely to succeed because a majority of both the House and Senate is needed to exclude any electoral votes.
Congress is set to meet on Wednesday at 1 p.m. EST as protesters descend on Washington. Read more here about the procedures and what to expect.
– Nicholas Wu and Camille Caldera, 7 a.m. ET
Contributing: Jorge L. Ortiz