At the end.
Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images
The United States slipped deeper into a political crisis on Thursday, after a mob of insurrectionists incited by Donald Trump attacked the Capitol and disrupted a joint session of Congress to confirm Joe Biden’s election as president. Members of Congress from both parties have since called for Trump’s removal from office and members of his administration have resigned in protest, including a Cabinet secretary. They were joined in condemnations of the president’s conduct from former members of his administration. Below, updates on the volatile situation and how it has played out.
Updates appear in reverse chronological order.
After the disastrous failure to protect the Capitol, the head of the U.S. Capitol Police will resign next week, according to a spokesperson. The AP reports Capitol Police twice turned down the D.C. National Guard — including as the mob descended on the Capitol.
After initial reports on Wednesday that the cabinet was discussing invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump in the waning days of the administration, that option is reportedly now off the table. According to BusinessInsider, Vice-President Pence opposes removing Trump via the 25th Amendment. Because Pence would need to lead such a charge — with a support of the majority of the cabinet — the only remaining option to remove Trump would be through a potential second impeachment. Earlier on Thursday, House Speaker Pelosi said House Democrats would impeach Trump a second time if the 25th Amendment was not invoked.
In a brief statement at the White House, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: “Let me be clear, the violence we saw yesterday at the Capitol was appalling, reprehensible, and antithetical to the American way. We condemn it — the president and this administration — in the strongest possible terms. it is unacceptable and those who broke the law should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” McEnany took no questions.
The head of the D.C. Police and the secretary of the Army, in charge of the D.C. National Guard, acknowledged Thursday their collective failure to safeguard the Capitol, according to the Washington Post. Secretary Ryan McCarthy said a breach was not in his “wildest imagination” while D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said, “There was no intelligence that suggested there would be a breach of the U.S. Capitol.” That is contrary to numerous postings on social media calling for such a siege.
ED KILGORE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Vice President Pence and the Trump Cabinet to remove the president from office via the emergency provisions of the 25th amendment. If that doesn’t happen quickly, she said, the House would begin impeachment proceedings. She indicated there is overwhelming support for that step in her caucus. But she brushed off questions about the exact timing and whether there is enough time for impeachment and removal in the 13 days remaining before the Biden inauguration.
Texas senator Ted Cruz — who vociferously defended Trump’s false accusations of voter fraud and expressed support for challenging Biden electors — told KTKR-TV in Houston: “the president’s language and rhetoric crossed the line and it was reckless. I disagree with it, and I have disagreed with the president’s language and rhetoric for the last four years.”
As New York’s Benjamin Hart notes, there is a ”growing list of staffers who are considering abandoning ship,” but this is by far the biggest Trump administration departure so far.
Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois called for Trump’s removal in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday morning. “It’s time to invoke the 25th Amendment and to end this nightmare,” said Kinzinger, who has occasionally criticized the president in the past and was among the minority of House Republicans who voted to certify Biden’s win last night.
On Thursday morning, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf issued a statement calling on Trump to speak out against yesterday’s violence in the Capitol.
“These violent actions are unconscionable, and I implore the President and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday,” Wolf said. “DHS takes the safety and security of all Americans very seriously — it’s at the core of our mission to defend our homeland. Any appearance of inciting violence by an elected official goes against who we are as Americans.”
Less than two hours later, the White House announced that it was withdrawing Wolf’s nomination to lead the department in a permanent capacity, per The Hill. White House spokesman Judd Deere claimed in a statement that the withdrawal actually happened on Wednesday and “was not related at all to Wednesday’s events or the Acting Secretary’s comments this morning.”
Wolf is currently on an official trip to the Middle East and intends to keep serving until Biden is inaugurated.
But he doesn’t name the Republicans who “incited” yesterday’s mob with their “lies.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday that in light of yesterday’s violence at the Capitol, President Trump should be immediately removed from office, via either impeachment or the 25th Amendment.
“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer,” the Democratic leader said in a statement.
“The quickest and most effective way – it can be done today – to remove this president from office would be for the vice president to immediately invoke the 25th amendment,” he continued. “If the vice president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”
Former Attorney General William Barr said in a statement to the AP that Trump’s conduct as a mob occupied the Capitol yesterday was a “betrayal of his office and supporters.” He added, “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.”
Nancy Mace, a freshman congresswoman who worked for Trump’s 2016 campaign, told CNN on Thursday morning that she feels his administration’s accomplishments were erased yesterday. “Everything that he’s worked for … all of that — his entire legacy — was wiped out yesterday,” she said, according to Politico. “We’ve got to start over.”
“I’m disappointed right now,” Mace continued. “I think that after last night — and I’m on my 100th hour of being a member of Congress, I’m working on about two hours of sleep — I’m distraught. We’ve got to rebuild our nation, and we’ve got to rebuild our party. This is not who we are. It’s extremely distressing. And it’s saddening. It’s heartbreaking.”
Politico’s Olivia Beavers shared a harrowing breakdown of what was happening inside the Capitol as rioters breached the building:
Fear came first, then the chaos ensued. Messages from the U.S. Capitol Police to ‘Stay calm’ were soon followed by police announcing they deployed tear gas in the Capitol Rotunda and members should find emergency escape hoods, which could be used essentially as gas masks, below their seats. That’s when the gravity of the situation seemed to fully click for lawmakers, who also realized what was unfolding as the crinkling sound of unwrapping our hoods filled the House chamber.
BLAME: Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) shouted at his GOP colleagues: “This is your fault.” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), sitting in the House gallery, yelled at Republicans located below to ask their “friend” Trump to tell the rioters to stand down. As I recall, both were met with groans.
Then very quickly, members and staff, holding or wearing their escape hoods, were ushered from the House floor, followed by press and other lawmakers in the gallery. It was difficult to walk through the gallery because of the narrow path between the stationary chairs, not to mention the brass guardrails that section off various parts of the area. It was right as I reached the guardrail that the police shouted for everyone to take cover.
I still crossed the guardrail and after I found a suitable hiding spot, I realized the glass panels on a door to the House entryway had been shattered, and Capitol police were aiming their guns through the small holes at faceless intruders I could not see on the other side. I wondered, then, would I see someone die today?
Later, a guard refused to let Beavers and several other journalists into a safe room with members of Congress, leaving them stranded in a hallway until Representative Ruben Gallego said they could shelter in his office. Read Beavers’ full account here.
Yesterday Giuliani told the crowd at the “Save America March” that the dispute over the election should be settled via “trial by combat.” A short time later they stormed the Capitol.
Mulvaney, President Trump’s former chief of staff, announced during a Thursday morning appearance on CNBC that he has resigned as special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland.
“I called [Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo last night to let him know I was resigning from that. I can’t do it. I can’t stay,” Mulvaney said.
He predicted others in the administration may resign in the coming days, as Trump is “not the same as he was eight months ago.”
“We didn’t sign up for what you saw last night,” Mulvaney said. “We signed up for making America great again, we signed up for lower taxes and less regulation. The president has a long list of successes that we can be proud of.”
As for those who choose to stick around for the last two weeks of the Trump administration, Mulvaney said, “I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in.”
The Oregon senator shows how the mob trashed his office, leaving a Trump flag behind to “mark their presence.” He also says a laptop was stolen from his desk.
On Morning Joe, a furious Joe Scarborough demanded to know why Capitol Hill police failed to keep the Trump-supporting mob out of the building yesterday.
“So I want to know from the Capitol Hill police, what is it, just white people? Or is it Donald Trump supporters?” Scarborough said. “Why do you scream at people for walking across the street three blocks away from the capitol? Why are you known as badasses around the Capitol, but then Trump supporters come in and you hold open the fucking doors for them? You open the doors for them? And let them breach the people’s house! What is wrong with you?”
Two months after losing the election, after doing everything he could to deny, discredit, and undo that reality, Trump released a statement following Congress’s confirmation of Biden’s win in which he finally acknowledged that it was all over:
Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.
After the electoral votes had all been counted and certified, Vice-President Pence read the results to applause, and after a closing prayer from Chaplain Barry Black reflecting on the horrifying events at the Capitol on Wednesday, the joint session of Congress was dissolved.
Trump and his allies’ fantasy of overturning the election is dead for good.
Video of the finale:
That welcome relief from more debate came at about 3:36 a.m.
That’s nearly two-thirds of the House GOP. They lost, of course: 64 Republicans and 218 Democrats outnumbered them. Eight of Pennsylvania’s nine GOP representatives voted against their own state’s election results.
Now it’s on to another joint session to keep counting electoral votes from the dozen remaining states and, eventually, certifying Biden’s victory and ending this absurd drama once and for all.
Freshman Kansas Republican Jake LaTurner received a positive test result late Wednesday night after having been on the floor of the House voting in favor of the objection to Arizona’s electoral votes. It surely won’t be the last case among lawmakers and everyone else who spent time in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday and couldn’t possibly have followed all the appropriate coronavirus precautions during a literal mob scene and sudden evacuation.
The Washington Post reports on how Wednesday’s chaos played out in the West Wing and offers more details about the bunker-minded Trump’s failure to act:
People who interacted with Trump on Wednesday said they found him in a fragile and volatile state. He spent the afternoon and evening cocooned at the White House and listening only to a small coterie of loyal aides …
As rioters broke through police barricades and occupied the Capitol, paralyzing the business of Congress, aides said Trump resisted entreaties from some of his advisers to condemn the marauders and refused to be reasoned with. “He kept saying, ‘The vast majority of them are peaceful. What about the riots this summer? What about the other side? No one cared when they were rioting. My people are peaceful. My people aren’t thugs,’” an administration official said. “He didn’t want to condemn his people.”
“He was a total monster today,” this official added …
Current White House aides tried to get Trump to call into Fox News Channel, but he refused. He at first did not want to say anything, but was convinced to send some tweets — although Twitter later locked his account, something that enraged the president. Then they scripted a video message for him to record, which he agreed to record and distribute on Twitter. But the president ad-libbed by including references to false voter fraud claims that they had asked him not to include, the administration official said.
Trump was also reportedly obsessed with hating on Pence:
A former senior administration official briefed on the president’s private conversations said, “The thing he was most upset about and couldn’t get over all day was the Pence betrayal … All day, it was a theme of, ‘I made this guy, I saved him from a political death, and here he stabbed me in the back.’”
A first attempt to make sense of how in the hell Wednesday’s siege on the Capitol was allowed to happen, from the Washington Post:
In a city on high alert, in a building with its own 2,000-officer police department, people forced their way into the sanctums of American democracy with nothing more than flagpoles, riot shields and shoves.
Nobody stopped them — and some officers were captured on video appearing to stand back as rioters streamed inside.
On Wednesday, while police were still struggling to eject the last intruders from the Capitol, current and former law enforcement officials said it appeared the U.S. Capitol Police and other agencies had failed to anticipate the size and intentions of the crowd that Trump urged to march up Pennsylvania Avenue to where lawmakers were gathered …
And at the Capitol itself, police had set out low barriers and officers were largely in street uniforms, not riot gear. All were prepared to confine a protest, but not to deter an attack, law enforcement officials said. Law enforcement experts said they were mystified by the tactics that police used once the mob was already inside the Capitol.
A former chief of the Capitol Police was dumbfounded:
“It’s like watching a real-life horror movie. I mean, we train and plan and budget every day, basically, to have this not happen,” said Kim Dine, who was chief of the Capitol Police from 2012 to 2016. “How it happened, I can’t figure that out.”
Dine said he was surprised to see that, on Wednesday, the Capitol Police had allowed rioters to gather so close to the building, on the Capitol steps — and that, once they forced their way inside, the rioters were not immediately arrested.
As of late Wednesday night, D.C. police had only made 52 arrests, 47 of which were for violating the 6 p.m. citywide curfew.
At 1:25 a.m, the Minnesota Democrat tweeted: “Still at senate waiting for house Republicans to be done debating ridiculous objection to PA election. After all this, seriously? 92 senators already rejected this. Around 3 a.m. I’ll go back to House to read rest of states & declare that Joe Biden is the next president.”
Tusla World reports:
“I’ve known Mike Pence forever,” Inhofe said Tuesday night. “I’ve never seen Pence as angry as he was today. “I had a long conversation with him,” said Inhofe. “He said, ‘After all the things I’ve done for (Trump).’”
It’s 1:45 a.m. and representatives are still going back and forth decrying Wednesday’s violence, grandstanding, and arguing about the election results or Trump and Republicans’ efforts to discredit them. There was also just some rancor while Pennsylvania representative Conor Lamb was speaking, with some representatives exchanging threats:
The Washington Post’s Paul Kane shares his experience amid the chaos. An excerpt:
Soon, the Senate was sealed off and the session was adjourned. Capitol Police raced around the two-story Senate Chamber locking every set of doors. Then Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) looked at her phone and announced: “Shots fired.” A veteran Capitol Police officer tried to calm the senators, telling them the report might not be accurate. But at 2:30 p.m., police ordered everyone out.
In the most dramatic moments of the siege, with armed officers in every corner of the Senate, police began barking out instructions. They marched us all — a phalanx of senators, staff and press — through multiple office buildings in search of the safest grounds to shelter on the Capitol complex.
The New York Times reports on the ordeal in the House:
Representative Ruben Gallego, Democrat of Arizona and a veteran, jumped on the arm rests of chairs and began directing members to move calmly and quickly from the chamber. Frantic shouting filled the room as lawmakers struggled to unfold the plastic bags that they were instructed to prepare to put over their heads in case of tear gas. Police officers and members of the floor staff began yelling for lawmakers to exit.
A wooden chest was pushed in front of the main doors to the chamber. Security officers drew their guns, pointing and shouting at the entrance, as lawmakers, staff aides and reporters cowered in the top levels of the chamber. There was a bang, and everyone was told to get down.
Shortly after 2:45, the evacuation resumed. With the police in the lead, guns drawn, the lawmakers entered a scene of havoc, Mr. Crow said. Some police officers scrambled to barricade other doors to block pro-Trump extremists. Others pinned some protesters to the ground to allow the lawmakers to pass.
At The New Yorker, Evan Osnos recalls the strange sight of Trump loyalists taking over — and taking advantage:
For anyone who has been to the U.S. Capitol, the scenes that followed were so unhinged that they took a moment to absorb. In the two decades since September 11th, much of the grounds of Congress have been encircled by rings of security. Now any sense of control was gone. The mob quickly overwhelmed the police, broke windows, and forced open doors. A jittery throng coursed through the Capitol, mugging with the statues and lounging at the desks of senators and representatives. They rummaged through drawers and brandished their loot for photographers. A man in a wool Trump hat, with a pom-pom on it, and a rictus of glee, carried off a carved wooden podium bearing the seal of the Speaker of the House.
The Washington Post’s Paul Kane also recounts how senators reacted while huddling in a secure room:
Eventually, reporters were herded out of the main secure room and into an outside lobby. Senators stayed behind, and began discussing what had gone wrong with the basic fabric of American democracy. Televisions were wheeled into the senators-only room so they could watch the chaos unfold for themselves. Pressure mounted on the few Republicans who had been objecting to counting Biden’s electoral college votes, giving life to the mob’s delusions of four more years for Trump. Just before 5 p.m., Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) led a contingent of GOP objectors into a separate room to discuss whether to go forward with their challenge in light of the mob violence.
Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs reports that deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger resigned on Wednesday afternoon, adding that “Pottinger was among [the] White House officials [who were] dismayed by [the] protesters’ attack and Trump’s role in inciting [the] violence. Pottinger had intended to resign on Election Day, regardless of outcome, but stayed at [National Security Adviser Robert] O’Brien’s request.”
Pottinger is one of at least four White House officials known to have resigned as a result of the Capitol riot. Deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews, social secretary Anna Cristina Niceta, and Stephanie Grisham, Melania’s Trump’s chief of staff, also submitted their resignations on Wednesday.
But House members are still mouthing off during their debate on Pennsylvania’s results, which means the official certification won’t happen until sometime Thursday morning.
Senate votes 92-7 (Cruz, Hawley, Hyde-Smith, Lummis, Marshall, Scott (FL), Tuberville) to reject Perry/Hawley objection to Biden’s Pennsylvania electors. It doesn’t even matter what the House does now, since *both* chambers must approve the objection for it to be successful …
As between the Arizona (93-6) and Pennsylvania (92-7) objections, three Senators switched votes: Kennedy voted in favor of the Arizona challenge but against the Pennsylvania one. Lummis voted in favor of Pennsylvania but against Arizona. Scott (FL) voted in favor of Pennsylvania but against Arizona. The other five objectors were the same.
ED KILGORE: For a good while it looked like the Joint Session of Congress might breeze through the roll call of the states after the Arizona challenge failed as part of an implicit deal in which Republican senators withdrew their support. Planned objections to Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada elections were presented by House members who had to admit they had no senatorial sign-ons anymore. Each time, applause filled the joint session of weary solons. But when Pennsylvania arrived, the House challengers proudly brandished an agreement from Josh Hawley, who earlier signaled that the Keystone State was of special interest to him. So the joint session adjourned and again the Senate and House split up into separate sessions to debate and vote upon the Pennsylvania challenge.
This could take a while.
ED KILGORE: As sleep-craving members of Congress, media observers, and TV viewers held their breaths, the joint session of Congress proceeded alphabetically through the states until it reached Georgia, where 74 House Republicans had signed on to an objection to Biden’s electors. But when questioned, the House member presenting the objection admitted that “after today’s events,” the senators who originally signed on to the challenge had withdrawn their support, effectively killing it. The chamber broke into hearty applause.
We will now see if this set a precedent for other planned challenges, which if so would bring the proceedings to a speedy conclusion with the confirmation of Joe Biden’s election. Update: It did set a precedent, no GOP senators supported the challenges related to Michigan or Nevada. We’ll see if Pennsylvania gets a pass as well.
Graphic: by Curbed
Our eagle-eyed Curbed colleagues Deane Madsen and Christopher Bonanos have gone through images of today’s chaos at the U.S. Capitol and determined where they were taken. Have a look at the results and the photos that correspond to above aerial shot here.
ED KILGORE: True to the ideologically more strident nature of the House Republican Caucus, and the influence of its powerful House Freedom Caucus faction, where the electoral-vote-protest stunt was designed, there was a lot more support for the Arizona challenge among House as opposed to Senate Republicans. They favored the challenge by a 122-82 margin, with all 220 Democrats who voted opposing it. Now the joint session that began the day’s long and eventual proceedings will reconvene, as senators file into the House chamber. We’ll soon know if there is enough bicameral Republican support for additional challenges, which, if they are made, will drag the process far into the wee hours.
Obviously the Trump bravos are far short of the majority in both Houses needed to sustain one of these challenges and deny Joe Biden electoral votes.
Washington, D.C., police say three additional people lost their lives amid today’s chaos at the Capitol. D.C. police announced late Wednesday that in addition to the woman who was shot and killed, an adult man and two adult women suffered medical emergencies resulting in their deaths. It’s not yet clear what those medical emergencies were.
D.C. police also announced that 14 of their officers were injured in the violence.
CNN’s Kaitlin Collins reports: “White House officials were shaken by Trump’s reaction to a mob of his supporters descending on the Capitol today. He was described to me as borderline enthusiastic because it meant the certification was being derailed. It has genuinely freaked people out.”
It comes down to Section Four of the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice-president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare the president unfit for office. Such an action would put Pence in charge for up to 21 days, if one chamber of Congress chooses not to act. With just 14 days remaining in his presidency, if Pence pursued the 25th Amendment, he would remain in office until Biden’s inauguration.
One reason I wrote the article — it wasn’t some crazy, desert-island hypothetical. The Trump administration has been full of craziness, and it was very easy to imagine that something could happen in the last few weeks that could be unendurable by the political system. Today in some ways might have been, who knows. A lot of people who were soft Trump supporters may say “This is way too much.”
Also, the inauguration is 14 days away. We don’t know what’s going to happen over the next 14 days. People are saying this is the low point. It may not be.
Intelligencer contributor Shawn McCreesh spoke with some of the mad MAGA faithful at the Capitol today:
“Something had to be done,” said Marilyn Bittner, who works as a “house flipper” in Maine. “They’re not listening to us in the courts or in the legislature, so it’s reached a point where people are going to break in,” she said.
On the muddy lawn, a contractor from Philly named Dave told me “This is just the beginning. People are pissed off.” Why wasn’t it an act of domestic terrorism to break into the U.S. Capitol? “This is our house,” he said. “We own it. They don’t own it.” Inside the building, Trump loyalists ran wild through the halls, posing for pictures in Nancy Pelosi’s office and scrawling “MURDER THE MEDIA” on the walls while he tweet-egged them on.
“The building belongs to us,” said Dave Hall, an unemployed Middlebury, Vermont, man who was waving a QAnon flag in front of the marble steps. He said his favorite news sources were The Epoch Times and One America News Network. Like everyone I spoke to, he had nothing but disdain for the Vice-President.
“This pretty much solidifies what we already knew about Pence,” said Hall. “He’s not aligned with freedom, he’s not aligned with Trump.”
ED KILGORE: The Senate will now have to wait on the House, which reconvened about an hour later, to catch up before Congress goes back into joint session and we find out whether Trump supporters will insist on going on through the night with additional challenges. In the House, the very Trumpy Florida Republican Matt Gaetz enlivened matters by claiming that some of the rioters who attacked the Capitol today were actually members of antifa.
Sarah Matthews says she’s done. “I was honored to serve in the Trump administration and proud of the policies we enacted,” Matthews wrote in a statement. “As someone who worked in the halls of Congress I was deeply disturbed by what I saw today. I’ll be stepping down from my role, effective immediately. Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.”
ED KILGORE: When the Senate finally voted on the Arizona challenge, only six Republicans supported it: Ted Cruz (who brought this particular challenge), Josh Hawley (who was the first senator to support any challenge), Cindy Hyde-Smith, Roger Marshall, John Kennedy, and Tommy Tuberville. Fourteen senators had originally indicated support for the attempted coup, so their numbers were pared by more than half, and 45 Republican senators split with Trump. Other than Cruz, the other five “aye” voting senators were from very red states.
ED KILGORE: There was a bit of a surprise just before the Senate began voting on the Arizona challenge. Yes, Lindsey Graham had been dismissive toward the challenge and had never said he would support it. But his brief speech attacking the challenges as representing an effort to disenfranchise the entire American electorate was not something you’d expect to hear from one of Trump’s closest allies and an enabler of the election-fraud talk. It might be another sign that Trump is losing his grip on Republicans enough that a born opportunist like Graham is loosening his tongue.
ED KILGORE: If most Republican senators are either opposing challengers or soft-peddling them, over in the House the original instigator of this whole process, Mo Brooks of Alabama, didn’t bother with any denunciation of violence or grace notes for the Capitol police. He immediately launched into a high-speed, high-volume rap about alleged “voting by illegal aliens” that presumably keeping Joe Biden out of the White House will prevent. Brooks was particularly enamored of the phrase “the illegal-alien bloc vote” that lifted Biden to the threshold of power. I couldn’t help but remember Brooks’s Alabama predecessors who used to talk with the same hostile tone about the “Negro bloc vote” during the civil-rights era. It’s hard to ignore the high odds that Brooks is their moral and spiritual descendant.
Some Cabinet members are holding preliminary discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment to force President Trump’s removal from office, a GOP source said. The discussions are ongoing but it’s unclear if there will be enough Cabinet members to result in Trump’s removal. The conversations have reached the Hill where some senators have been made aware of the discussions, the source said.
And on Wednesday night, the House Judiciary Committee released a statement urging Vice-President Pence to invoke the 25th:
Even in his video announcement this afternoon, President Trump revealed that he is not mentally sound and is still unable to process and accept the results of the 2020 election. President Trump’s willingness to incite violence and social unrest to overturn the election results by force clearly meet this standard. So too are his recent Tweets, which Twitter has since deleted, saying the election was ‘stolen’ and that today’s riots ‘are the things and events that happen.
ED KILGORE: In an inverse move from Kelly Loeffler, Josh Hawley, who made this whole absurd process possible, claimed that today’s violence made the challenges “more important than ever” as an example of the “right” (non-violent) way to seek change. It’s a clever maneuver, but unfortunately, stealing an election nonviolently is only marginally better than stealing it violently.
Mitt Romney addressed his Senate colleagues with tears in his eyes, saying his 25 grandchildren were wondering if he was okay after the attack. “We gather due to a selfish man’s injured pride,” Romney intoned, saying what happened was an “insurrection incited by the president of the United States.” Romney said Republicans who vote with Trump will go down in history alongside the mob. “No congressional audit is ever going to convince these voters … the best way to convince [them] is by telling them the truth!” The chamber stood and applauded.
Josh Hawley, the first Republican senator to say he would object to Biden’s certification, doubled down — using the riot as a foil. Hawley said deliberating is the right way to sort out disagreements about the election, instead of resorting to violence. “What we are doing here tonight is actually very important. For those who have concerns about the integrity of the election … for what happened in November, this is the appropriate means,” he said. The shtick isn’t going down well in his native Missouri — the Kansas City Star said Hawley has “blood on his hands” after today.
Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat who lost both her legs in combat in Iraq, assailed Republicans for appeasing Trump’s “porcelain ego” and linked them to the mob that stormed the Capitol, tearing up at the end of her speech.
ED KILGORE: In reconvening the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted in passing that today is the Feast of the Epiphany on the Catholic Church’s calendar of holy days. In the biblical context, the “epiphany” refers to the recognition of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, beginning with the Magi. Given the events of the day and the shocked reaction of many Republicans, you might say they are experiencing an “epiphany” about Donald Trump’s true and sinister nature.
CNN reported earlier tonight that Melania Trump’s chief of staff, former White House communications director Stephanie Grisham, resigned in protest over the violence. Vox’s Alex Ward reports that National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger, and possibly Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination Chris Liddell are also considering resigning.
The Daily Beast adds:
According to two sources familiar with the matter, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been busy making calls to the White House in an effort to try and maintain cohesiveness, at least for the next few hours. As Trump aides rushed to keep the departures to a minimum and perform some semblance of damage control, the president vented his fury that politicians and people on cable news were already starting to hold him responsible for the day’s mayhem, according to two people familiar with the situation. Predictably, Trump held the position that it wasn’t his fault, and that a strong public denunciation was not necessary at the time, the sources relayed.
ED KILGORE: The most tangible immediate sign of the change today’s violence wrought was when Kelly Loeffler — who just lost her Senate seat last night — arose to briefly say she could no longer support the challenge to Arizona’s electoral votes. Maybe she is simply dropping the mask of being a pro-Trump ultra now that it didn’t save her Senate career, but in any event, it was a dramatic change of tone for her and other Republican senators who insisted on these challenges.
ED KILGORE: Congress came back into session after law-enforcement officers swept the Capitol and the grounds around it and issued an all-clear. Clearly Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell decided that reconvening as quickly as possible was important symbolically to show that they were not intimidated by the rioters. And in sharp contrast to Trump’s tender tips-from-the-coach tone toward those rioters (whom he said he “loved”), Mitch McConnell opened the Senate session by referring to them as an “unhinged mob” that had “tried to disrupt democracy, and they failed.” Soon-to-be Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was predictably more blunt, directly blaming Trump for the violence.
And then Oklahoma’s James Lankford, who was speaking in favor of the Arizona electoral-vote challenge when the Senate was abruptly adjourned with the rioters near their chamber, mostly confined his remarks to a condemnation of the violence and appreciations for the law-enforcement officers who hustled the senators out of harm’s way. But he did concede that the electoral commission he and other Senate Republicans had asked for “is not going to happen at this point” and that Biden was going to be certified as president.
What has happened is that the session that was supposed to be about the presidential election is now mostly about the pro-Trump violence that disrupted it. Whatever else you can say about Trump’s incitement of the mob this morning, it has turned into another classic Trumpian unforced error.
She was an Air Force veteran from San Diego, KUSI reports:
The woman is Ashli Babbit, a 14-year veteran, who served four tours with the US Air Force, and was a high level security official throughout her time in service. Her husband says she was a strong supporter of President Trump, and was a great patriot to all who knew her.
The Metropolitan Police Department says an investigation into her death continues.
Not-shocking news regarding one of the ringleaders of congressional Republicans’ efforts to block the certification of Biden’s victory:
Meanwhile, Representative Liz Cheney — one of the GOP lawmakers who has most vociferously opposed her colleagues’ effort, drawing a personal attack from Trump during his speech today — appeared on Fox News tonight to condemn the mob and implicate the president:
It’s one of the big questions hanging in the air tonight. Intelligencer’s Matt Stieb summarizes what’s been reported thus far:
It’s not clear was caused this upending of the chain of command, which came after President Trump encouraged protesters to head to the Capitol to protest the certification of election results, did not explicitly condemn the attack, and said in a video that he “loves” his supporters who stormed the Capitol.
… For 12 hours, finally applying the same standard to the regularly violence-encouraging president that it is supposed to apply to everyone. The move comes 14 days before the end of Trump’s presidency, after he twice expressed his support for the pro-Trump mob that took over the U.S. Capitol today. The company has also threatened to ban him permanently:
It’s the first time the platforms have ever deleted the president’s posts.
Earlier he said he “loved” the people who stormed the Capitol. His 6:01 p.m. message, which Twitter eventually removed:
Intelligencer’s Sarah Jones writes that the mob today at the Capitol was “what Trumpism without Trump looks like: old fashioned white supremacy, outfitted with a new set of grievances”:
When Biden takes the oath of office later this month, Trump’s presidency will be over. White supremacy, however, will not. America will still be America and Biden will have to figure out how to deal with it. Pretending that this country is nobler than it is will accomplish nothing; it will only guarantee that the forces Trump mobilized will rage on for years. So let’s agree now to call the events of January 6 what they are: an insurrection waged by the usual suspects, incited by a president who understands precisely what he’s doing. The fascistic undertones are not difficult to hear. Go home now, Trump told supporters on Wednesday, but you’re right to be angry, the election was stolen. “We love you,” he added “You’re very special.” They know. They’re grateful. And they’re not going anywhere.
Intelligencer’s Jonathan Chait argues Trump is guilty of sedition, and his supporters are all accomplices:
It can be a little unfair, a little too easy, to blame people who decry a problem when some others take up their cause violently. But violence was just what Trump promised. While Trump, characteristically, declined to march alongside his followers — this is a man, after all, who rides in a golf cart and calls it “exercise” — he got the riot he wanted.
Violence is what he has been promising all along, wafting the scent of blood into the air to goad his supporters.
Intelligencer’s Eric Levitz calls for Trump’s presidency to be ended, immediately:
Trump cannot be allowed the opportunity to pardon his insurrectionaries. He cannot be allowed to carry on using the presidency’s bully pulpit to propagate the incendiary lies that ease his narcissistic injuries at our democracy’s expense. He cannot be allowed to dissolve today’s horror in the acid bath of America’s inveterate amnesia, and emerge three years from now as a leading contender for a major party presidential nomination. He must be evicted from our White House immediately. He must be frog-marched out of our civic life in disgrace.
“We don’t want anybody hurt,” he said, while also repeating his false claims that prompted the mob in the first place:
In a statement provided to Intelligencer’s Olivia Nuzzi, a staff member of Madison Cawthorn — one of the most pro-Trump voices in the newly sworn-in class of representatives — describes how they were evacuated: “Once I got on [the House floor] I stood by the door and heard a Capitol Police officer ask how many guns were in the room. They then told us to get behind the chairs as we may have to drop to the floor and they are [bulletproof]. Then told us to get gas masks out from beneath the chairs and put them on.” Before they were able to get their masks on, a police officer escorted them into an elevator and out of the Capitol.
ED KILGORE: After both Houses of Congress abruptly adjourned when protesters broke into the Capitol, Secret Service agents and Capitol Police quickly whisked away Vice-President Mike Pence, Senate President Pro Tempore Charles E. Grassley, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and transported them to undisclosed “secure locations.” They merited special handling because they are in the line of presidential succession. So the rioters triggered provisions designed to deal with huge calamities like war and terrorist attacks. Other members of Congress were initially encouraged to shelter in place in locked offices, though some were apparently taken into basement quarters in the Capitol or the nearby office buildings. As order returns to the Capitol, it may take a while to reassemble Congress.
COVID-19 did reduce the total number of people in the Capitol today, since many members of Congress have disbursed staff to other locations by way of social distancing.
Both buildings are near the Capitol in D.C. The DNC was evacuated, the New York Times reports:
An explosive device was found at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee in Washington and the nearby headquarters of the Democratic National Committee was evacuated after the discovery of a suspicious package on Wednesday, according to three people briefed on the discoveries.
The device that was found at the R.N.C. was a pipe bomb that was successfully destroyed by a bomb squad, according to an official for the R.N.C.
The package at the D.N.C. has yet to be identified, according to a top Democrat briefed on the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images