A violent mob incited by President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol Wednesday, attacking police, ransacking and looting offices, and sending lawmakers diving for cover amid gunfire and tear gas. The unprecedented violence interrupted a joint session of Congress convened to certify Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s Electoral College victory. It came after President Trump — backed by his attorney, Rudy Giuliani — rallied thousands of supporters outside the White House, urging them to march on the Capitol to overturn the results of the election.
Rudy Giuliani: “Let’s have trial by combat!”
President Donald Trump: “Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
After the speech, Trump retreated to the White House while his mob marched on Congress, where they pushed past police and smashed their way into the Capitol. The Secret Service whisked Vice President Mike Pence to safety as terrified lawmakers fled the House and Senate chambers. A dozen lawmakers were trapped on the gallery above the House floor as marauders tried to force their way past barricades. Some of the lawmakers put on emergency gas masks as tear gas filled the air; others broke furniture apart to fashion makeshift clubs to defend themselves before Capitol Police finally cleared a path for their escape. The insurrectionists overturned desks, tore paintings off walls, posed for photos on the House and Senate daises, and looted the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Four people died in the melee, including Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and supporter of the racist, pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory. She was fatally shot by police inside the Capitol. Washington’s police chief said three other people died in “separate medical emergencies,” but provided no details.
A bomb squad discovered pipe bombs left outside the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic National Committees, and police seized a rifle and Molotov cocktails from a truck parked near the Capitol. The insurrectionists were overwhelmingly white and male. Some carried Confederate flags and displayed white supremacist and neo-Nazi symbols.
More than an hour after the attempted coup, President Trump released a short video statement asking his supporters to go home, while adding “we love you” and “you’re very special.”