Lawmakers resumed counting Electoral College votes on Wednesday, hours after a mob of Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol resulting in the death of one woman, with Vice President Mike Pence gaveling in the session and saying that Wednesday was a “dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.”
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win,” Mr. Pence said. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, promptly vowed that the Senate would finish its work Wednesday night, undeterred by “failed insurrection.”
“They tried to disrupt our democracy,” he said. “They failed. They failed.”
Earlier in the evening, Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues that they were determined to reconvene saying, “We always knew this responsibility would take us into the night.”
Violence overtook the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, when a mob loyal to President Trump stormed the building, halting Congress’s counting of the votes as the police evacuated lawmakers in a scene of violence, chaos and disruption that shook the core of American democracy.
The sergeant-at-arms, the top security official at the Capitol, announced that the building had been secured around 5:40 p.m.
The unrest prompted Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington to declare a citywide curfew from 6 p.m. Wednesday night to 6 a.m. Thursday morning, which was later extended to Jan. 21. The Army activated the District of Columbia National Guard in response to a request from the mayor, an Army official said.
The chaos began around 2:15 p.m., as the House and Senate debated a move by a faction of Republicans to overturn the election results, security rushed Vice President Mike Pence out of the Senate chamber and the Capitol building was placed on lockdown.
In a scene of unrest common in authoritarian countries but seldom witnessed in the history of the United States capital, hundreds of people in the mob barreled past fence barricades outside the Capitol and clashed with officers. Shouting demonstrators mobbed the second floor lobby just outside the Senate chamber, as law enforcement officials placed themselves in front of the chamber doors.
For a time, senators and members of the House were locked inside their respective chambers. Images posted on social media showed at least one person took to the rostrum of the House chamber to declare his support for Mr. Trump.
“This is what you’ve gotten, guys,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, yelled as the mayhem unfolded in the Senate chamber, apparently addressing his colleagues who were leading the charge to press Mr. Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.
“This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection,” Mr. Romney said later.
Mr. Biden responded to the violence on Wednesday, saying, “I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.”
In a brief video posted to his Twitter account shortly after 4 p.m., Mr. Trump repeated his baseless claim that “the election was stolen” and spoke in sympathetic and affectionate terms to members of the mob, before advising them to “go home.” “We love you,” he added.
The posting, which Twitter later removed after locking the president’s account, came hours after Mr. Trump appeared at a rally in which he exhorted his supporters to go to the Capitol to register their discontent.
As officers and members of the mob clashed outside, lawmakers had been debating an objection to the certification of Arizona electors, ensconced in their respective chambers.
The extraordinary day in Washington laid bare deep divisions both between the two parties and within Republican ranks, when the ceremonial counting of electoral votes that unfolds every four years in Congress turned into an explosive spectacle.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, warned of a “death spiral” for democracy, while Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, listed a litany of accusations of election fraud with little evidence.
By Wednesday evening, former President George W. Bush was among the high-profile Republicans who sharply condemned what he called “mayhem” and a “violent assault on the Capitol.”
This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic,” he said in a statement.
Nicholas Fandos, Emily Cochrane, Eileen Sullivan, Glenn Thrush, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Jonathan Martin
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