Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday in a bid to overturn his election defeat, occupying the American symbol of democracy and forcing Congress to suspend its session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Police evacuated lawmakers and struggled for more than three hours after the invasion to clear the Capitol of Trump supporters, who surged through the hallways and rummaged through offices in shocking scenes of chaos and disorder.
Capitol Police told lawmakers in the House chamber to take gas masks from beneath their seats and ordered them to drop to the floor for their safety. Officers drew their guns as someone tried to enter the House chamber.
Police piled furniture against the doors of the House chamber as protesters tried to break them down, Democratic Representative Jason Crow said on MSNBC.
Several hundred House members, staff and press were evacuated to an undisclosed location.
At least four people died – including one woman after being shot in the chest on the Capitol grounds.
The FBI said it had disarmed two suspected explosive devices.
The assault on the Capitol was the culmination of months of divisive and escalating rhetoric around the November 3 election, with Trump repeatedly making false claims that the vote was rigged and urging his supporters to help him overturn his loss.
The chaotic scenes unfolded after Trump, who before the election refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost, addressed thousands of supporters near the White House and told them to march on the Capitol to express their anger at the voting process.
He told his supporters to pressure their elected officials to reject the results, urging them “to fight.”
Police deployed fired tear gas inside the Capitol to disperse the rioters. Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said members of the crowd used chemical irritants to attack police and several had been injured.
Police declared the Capitol building secure shortly after 17:30HRS and lawmakers reconvened shortly after 20:00HRS to resume the election certification.
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today – you did not win,” Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the session, said as it resumed. “Let’s get back to work,” he said, drawing applause.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called the invasion a “failed insurrection” and promised that “we will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation.”
“We are back in our posts. We will discharge our duty under the Constitution, and for our nation. And we are going to do it tonight,” he said.