A mob of people backing President Donald Trump’s coup-like effort to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday, breaching security fences, entering the building, and bringing to a halt the process of Congress certifying Electoral College votes.
As of this writing, the Capitol building has been placed on lockdown and lawmakers have been evacuated. Photos taken inside the building show Trump supporters roaming throughout the building, sitting in the office chairs of lawmakers such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California), and posing in the chair that’s normally reserved for the president of the Senate in that legislative chamber.
NBC News has confirmed that one person has been shot inside the Capitol building by a member of law enforcement.
Reports of an armed standoff between Trump loyalists and Capitol police were also tweeted out by Bloomberg News reporter Erik Wasson. “Armed standoff on House floor. Police pointing guns at protestors who have broken glass door,” Wasson wrote.
Due to the unrest, the certification process for the Electoral College was halted and a recess was called as Pence himself was escorted by security away from the Senate chamber.
Images from inside the Capitol show Trump supporters who breached security inside the Senate chambers standing in the gallery as well as on the Senate floor. Reports at this time have stated that all lawmakers within the building have been moved to secure locations.
As of 3:55 p.m. Eastern Time, President Donald Trump has issued two tweets directly addressing his supporters regarding the unrest inside the Capitol. None of the tweets from the president, however, are asking his supporters to remove themselves from the building to allow the certification process to continue.
“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence!” Trump wrote. “Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
Trump had addressed his supporters earlier in the day outside the White House, telling them that he would continue to try and overturn the results of the election. Biden won 306 Electoral College votes in November’s race to Trump’s 232.
Trump also expressed his desire for Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally reject Electoral College votes, a power the vice president doesn’t actually have, according to the Constitution.
“Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country,” Trump told his crowd of adoring supporters.
In a “Dear Colleague” letter made public on Wednesday, Pence refuted Trump, pointedly stating that he cannot do what the president was asking of him.
“Some believe that as Vice President, I should be able to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally,” Pence said in the document. “Others believe that electoral votes should never be challenged in a Joint Session of Congress. After a careful study of our Constitution, our laws, and our history, I believe neither view is correct.”
Following the speech, thousands of Trump’s supporters walked to Capitol Hill, where they attempted to breach several buildings, breaking through several layers of security fencing in the process.
The Madison and Cannon buildings on the Capitol Complex were initially evacuated due to the tumult. Reporters said that some in those buildings were encouraged to use underground tunnels if they had to go somewhere else.
“I’m sheltering in place in my office. The building next door has been evacuated. I can’t believe I have to write this,” Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Michigan) wrote in a tweet describing the scene.
I’m sheltering in place in my office. The building next door has been evacuated. I can’t believe I have to write this.
— Rep. Haley Stevens (@RepHaleyStevens) January 6, 2021
Some lawmakers appeared to be placing blame on each other, too, for the storming of the Capitol. “This is what you’ve gotten,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) reportedly said during the confusion, directing his ire toward Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who had objected to certifying Arizona’s Electoral College votes moments before the Capitol was stormed.