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UPDATE, 5:45 PM PT: “This will be a stain on our country, not easily washed away,” said Senator Chuck Schumer tonight of the violence and rioting on Capitol Hill today by supporters of Donald Trump. “The final, terrible, indelible legacy of the 45th president of the United States — undoubtedly our worst,” the soon-to-be Senate minority leader added.
The New York Democrat’s unvarnished remarks came after Mitch McConnell and outgoing VP Mike Pence briefly spoke on a day that saw “this temple to democracy …desecrated,” in Sen Schumer’s words. After the Senate leaders spoke the process to certify the electoral college vote in favor of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris began again, after being interrupted this morning.
“Those who performed these reprehensible acts cannot be called protesters,” Schumer said of the hundreds of MAGA hat wearers who poured into the building past little resistance from Capitol Hill police and invaded both chambers and official’s offices. “No, these were rioters and insurrectionists, goons and thugs, domestic terrorists. They do not represent America.”
“They must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law…and provided no leniency,” Sen Schumer bluntly said.
“This mob was in good part, President Trump’s doing. “incited by his words and his lies,” the Democrat stated of his fellow NYCer. “He hardly ever discourages violence and more often encourages it. This president bears a great deal of the blame.”
Schumer also laid responsibility at the feet of many Republicans in the chamber around him and the likes of Fox News, and fellow conservative outlets like NewsMax and OAN.
“Now, January 6 will go down as one of the darkest days in recent American history. A final warning to our nation about the final warning of a demagogue President, the people who enable him, the captive media that parrots his lies and the people who follow him as his attempts to push America to the brink of ruin. “
CNN, MSNBC and BBC World News carried the soon-to-be former minority leader’s words, but not Fox News Channel. Instead, after ignoring Mike Pence’s remarks and coming late to Sen. McConnell’s, cut back to their regularly scheduled programming of Tucker Carlson and away from Schumer.
Too bad, because they missed some lines of hope in this day of infamy.
“Democracy’s roots in this nation are deep, they’re strong and they will not be undone ever by a group of thugs,” Chuck Schumer declared. “Democracy will triumph as it has for centuries.”
Later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recited the prayer of St. Francis as she reconvened the chamber. “We know that are in difficult times, but little could we have imagined the assault that was made on our democracy today….To those who engage in the gleeful desecration our temple of democracy, American democracy, justice will be done.”
UPDATE, 5:18 PM PT: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned the siege of the Capitol as an “insurrection,” and vowed that the chambers of Congress would finish the process of counting the electoral votes.
“Now we’re going to finish exactly what we started,” McConnell said.
Both chambers were scheduled to resume the process, but it was unclear if Donald Trump’s allies would continue to challenge the results.
“We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats,” McConnell said. “We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation.”
Vice President Mike Pence, seated in the same spot where one of the rioters plunked down as they occupied the Capitol earlier this afternoon, said, “To those who wreaked havoc on in the Capitol today: You did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins.”
Their remarks were a bit of a contrast to those of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who said that President Donald Trump bears blame. He called it “the final, terrible, indelible legacy of the 45th president of the United States, undoubtedly our worst.”
UPDATE, 4:56 PM PT: Broadcast and cable networks have been on air throughout the day covering the Capitol Hill unrest, and networks are planning to continue throughout the evening.
ABC News is planning a three-hour primetime special, anchored by George Stephanopoulos, joined by David Muir and Linsey Davis.
CBS News started their coverage at 1 PM ET and went for seven hours, and planned to return at 9 PM ET with anchor Norah O’Donnell.
NBC News, on the air since 1 PM ET, planned to stay with the unrest at least through 11 PM, with Lester Holt and Savannah Guthrie anchoring.
Holt said on NBC Nightly News, “So here we are, at the end of an extraordinary and chaotic day in the history of our country – we’ve seen an assault on our democracy like we’ve never seen. The normally routine exercise of certifying, or as in this case counting the votes of a presidential election turning into a life-threatening attack on one of the pillars of our country: gunfire, a woman dies, others wounded, members of Congress in gas masks, hiding under their desks, saying prayers. The U.S. Capitol occupied and under siege.
“The questions will linger for a long time. On a very basic level, just how could an angry mob breach what should have been one of the most secure buildings in the world? Why did it take so long for authorities, including President Trump himself, to respond? And what responsibility will the president ultimately bear for what happened today?”
UPDATE, 4:49 PM PT: Stephanie Grisham, First Lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff and spokesperson, has resigned in the wake of the violent protests at the Capitol.
“It has been an honor to serve the country in the White House. I am very proud to have been a part of Mrs. Trump’s mission to help children everywhere, and proud of the many accomplishments of this Administration,” she said in a statement to CBS News.
CNN first reported on her resignation. Grisham did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
UPDATE, 3:44 PM PT: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Congress would reconvene later on Wednesday after pro-Donald Trump demonstrators disrupted the proceedings to affirm Joe Biden as the winner of the Electoral College vote.
“Today, a shameful assault was made on our democracy. It was anointed at the highest level of government. It cannot, however, deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to members.
“To that end, in consultation with Leader Hoyer and Whip Clyburn and after calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Vice President, we have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use. Leader Hoyer will be sending out more guidance later today.”
She added, “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.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the Senate also would reconvene on Wednesday evening.
UPDATE, 3:38 PM PT: Former President George W. Bush decried what he called an insurrection, joining with Joe Biden and others who have described the siege of the Capitol as something more than a protest.
“It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight,” Bush said in a statement. “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions and our law enforcement.”
UPDATE, 3:22 PM PT: A woman who was shot during the siege of the Capitol on Wednesday has died, the Associated Press reported.
It was unclear the circumstances of her death, but the Washington Examiner published graphic video of what they described as a woman being shot in the neck.
Authorities reportedly have secured the Capitol and the building was cleared, but demonstrations continue outside the White House.
UPDATE, 2:37 PM PT: During the siege and takeover of the Capitol, as chaos interrupted Senate and House proceedings, members of floor staff grabbed the most important documents — the cases holding the Electoral College votes.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said that floor staff grabbed them as members fled the room. Protesters eventually made their way to the floor, and one even was shown sitting in the chair of the presiding officer.
“Electoral college ballots rescued from the Senate floor. If our capable floor staff hadn’t grabbed them, they would have been burned by the mob,” Merkley wrote on Twitter.
One of the lingering questions is why Capitol Police didn’t have greater reinforcements, given the number of Donald Trump demonstrators who showed up for his gathering and marched to the Capitol, at his urging and at the urging of some of his supporters. The Capitol routinely sees protests. Jane Fonda was arrested multiple times in 2019 as she demonstrated for the environment, but there was no unrest.
But in this case, police officers were overwhelmed.
“They are used to people who are compliant,” former Senator Claire McCaskill told MSNBC, adding that she thinks the Capitol Police perhaps didn’t believe that they would go ahead and break windows and cause havoc.
UPDATE, 1:48 PM PT: Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said that one person sustained a gunshot wound in the unrest at the Capitol, but offered few immediate details.
Images from the Capitol showed authorities trying to clear demonstrators from the west front of the Capitol with flash grendades. Some of the protesters were occupying the makeshift platform set up for Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Bowser said in a press conference that Metropolitan Police have been ordered to establish a perimeter around the Capitol to try to bring order to the chaotic situation, where supporters of President Donald Trump continue to occupy areas of the complex. She said that she also has asked Maryland and Virginia police to help secure the Capitol.
There were five weapons recovered and 13 arrests, according to the chief of Metropolitan Police Robert Contee. He said that rioters assaulted a number of police officers in the Capitol. “We have reports that there are several injured officers who are still engaged to regain control of the Capitol,” he said.
A curfew will be in effect until 6 AM PM on Thursday. She said that the Capitol Police requested support of the D.C. National Guard on Wednesday.
Broadcast and cable networks have been providing ongoing coverage of what CNN is calling an “insurrection.”
CBS News political journalist Zak Hudak was inside the House chamber, and got video of a moment when what sounded like a gunshot as authorities had an armed standoff with protesters attempting to get in.
Audio from video I took moments later includes what appears to be the gunshot fired in the Capitol pic.twitter.com/6jrOrUxJvN
— Zak Hudak (@cbszak) January 6, 2021
PREVIOUSLY: The U.S. Capitol is in chaos today as police have drawn guns on and are clashing with pro-Donald Trump protesters who breached the U.S Capitol Building as Congress was convening to certify the presidential election.
Media reports of threats and violence from the crowd are coming in by the second. The Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC and other outlets are reporting that one person has been shot and critically wounded in the melee.
WASHINGTON (@AP) — AP source: 1 person shot at US Capitol amid melee with Trump supporters; condition unknown.
— Stefanie Dazio (@steffdaz) January 6, 2021
Protestors and police are now clashing inside the Capitol in what looks more and more like a coup every second. This is the end result of Trumpism. This was inevitable. pic.twitter.com/Ep4ppaZJjD
— Simon A. Purdue (@simonp_92) January 6, 2021
Here’s the scary moment when protesters initially got into the building from the first floor and made their way outside Senate chamber. pic.twitter.com/CfVIBsgywK
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 6, 2021
Trump urged protesters at the Capitol to “stay peaceful,” but he has not instructed them to disperse from the complex, where his supporters have breached the barricades and have been wandering through some of the halls near House and Senate chambers. One was pictured in the chair of Senate Majority Leader Mitch MConnell, and another was sitting at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk.
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump has called out the National Guard to help with the situation:
At President @realDonaldTrump’s direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services.
We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) January 6, 2021
Trump tweeted earlier: “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
“This is so un-American. I condemn any of the violence that is happening in the Capitol right now,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News.
On CNN, Fox News and other networks were images of authorities in the House chamber, with their guns drawn, as protesters pounded on the door outside. There were other images of those in the chamber on the floor of the House gallery, sheltering in place.
Fox News just broadcast an image of a protesters sitting in Pelosi’s office pic.twitter.com/Adq5ZvthFM
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 6, 2021
Video of Trump supporters breaking into the Capitol pic.twitter.com/imwGubWPEB
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 6, 2021
There also are photos of protesters in the Senate chamber, with one demonstrator in the chair of the presiding officer, saying that Trump won the election.
McCarthy said that he spoke by phone to Trump to say that “we need to make a statement to calm these people down.” Trump urged the demonstrators to be peaceful, but he said nothing about them vacating the premises.
Trump’s former communications director, Alyssa Farah, tweeted that the president should “condemn this now.” “You are the only one they will listen to,” she wrote.
MORE TO COME…