CNB News – A chaotic and violent scene unfolded at the Capitol on Wednesday as supporters of President Trump swarmed the building to protest the Electoral College vote, forcing a lockdown and various confrontations with police.
Vice President Pence and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Senate president pro tempore, were escorted from the Senate chamber after rioters overpowered police and broke into the Capitol to protest as a joint session of Congress convened to certify President-elect Joe Biden‘s win.
The House and Senate were less than an hour into debating the first GOP objection to a state that Biden won — Arizona — when they were forced to abruptly recess as mostly maskless people crowded into the hallways around each chamber.
Lawmakers, staffers and reporters in each chamber were forced to shelter in place, told to hide under their seats and given gas masks. At least one person was shot in the confrontation at the Capitol, according to The Associated Press.
The confrontation with rioters outside the House chamber resulted in broken glass on one of the center doors. Capitol Police officers inside the chamber drew their guns in anticipation of people trying to breach the door.
Some rioters broke into the Senate chamber, with one getting up on the dais and yelling “Trump won that election.”
Lawmakers and some former White House officials urged President Trump to condemn the violence erupting on the Capitol grounds, after Trump spoke earlier in the day seeking to rally supporters to protest the electoral count.
“Mr. President @realDonaldTrump the men & women of law enforcement are under assault. It is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted.
Mr. President @realDonaldTrump the men & women of law enforcement are under assault. It is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 6, 2021
“Condemn this now, @realDonaldTrump – you are the only one they will listen to. For our country!” tweeted former White House communications director Alyssa Farah.
Condemn this now, @realDonaldTrump – you are the only one they will listen to. For our country!
— Alyssa Farah (@Alyssafarah) January 6, 2021
“The President’s tweet is not enough. He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home,” tweeted former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Trump had tweeted earlier Wednesday afternoon urging supporters to “stay peaceful” and support law enforcement without expressly condemning those using force to enter the Capitol building. The president tweeted again 35 minutes later to condemn the violence.
“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!” he wrote.
Pence, who earlier in the day told Congress he does not believe he has the “unilateral authority” to reverse the election results despite demands from Trump, called on rioters to immediately leave the Capitol.
“The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building,” Pence tweeted.
Later Wednesday afternoon, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) issued a joint statement urging Trump to tell the rioters to leave the Capitol.
“We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protestors leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately,” they said.
Lawmakers, staff and reporters were evacuated from the Capitol as scores of people forcefully entered the building, overwhelming the Capitol Police.
Police had extra officers on duty on Wednesday in anticipation of potentially violent protests, but still lost control of the situation as the mob pushed its way into the building.
The National Guard and other law enforcement plan to respond to the situation, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted shortly after 3:30 p.m. EST.
“We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful,” she added.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that he is deploying members of the state’s National Guard and 200 state troopers to respond to the situation.
Those in the House chamber were given gas masks amid reports that police may use tear gas in an effort to clear the area outside the chamber. Images shared by reporters inside the chamber showed doors to the room barricaded and several law enforcement officers with guns drawn.
On the Senate side, senators, staff and roughly a dozen reporters were locked in the upper chamber as chaos erupted outside the doors. Senators were instructed to stay in their seats, after many were first spotted milling about and chatting on their phones.
Security staff at one point told staff to get toward the back of the chamber and instructed senators to stay away from the doors.
Amid confusion about what was happening, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) stood up to tell her colleagues that shots had reportedly been fired.
“I hope these guys wake up to the damage that they’re doing,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said of lawmakers objecting to the election results when asked about the session resuming again.
Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah), another Republican who has opposed efforts to overturn the election, cast blame on Trump for the unfolding scene.
“This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection,” he told a reporter.
Several lawmakers tweeted that they were sheltering in place in their offices as the scene unfolded. Police earlier had evacuated several buildings including the Library of Congress’s Madison Building across from the Capitol and the Cannon House office building.
Police issued a warning to Capitol Hill staffers, urging those in the Cannon House building to “take visitors, escape hoods, and Go Kits” and report to a tunnel connected to a nearby building.