Credit…J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
After a mob was cleared from the Capitol building, the House and Senate voted down an objection to the election results in Arizona. The lawmakers had evacuated when Trump supporters disrupted Congress’s debate of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
After a joint session of Congress was suspended, the House returned to its chamber to debate challenges to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College win. A pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol, halting the certification vote.
Congress voted down an attempt to overturn the will of Arizona’s voters on Wednesday night, after a violent mob stormed the Capitol in a brazen effort to keep President Trump in office despite his decisive election loss in November.
While the House rejected the attempt with 303-to-121 vote, more than half of the Republican conference sought to overturn the Arizona electoral slate despite pleas from Democrats to reconsider after an insurgent mob stormed the Capitol. Representatives Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, and Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, were among those seeking to keep Mr. Trump in office despite his loss.
The Senate offered a sharper rebuke with a 93-to-6 vote after at least four Republican lawmakers, including Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, said they had changed their minds and would vote to uphold the Electoral College results after having previously said that they would object to them.
Those voting against the results of the American election were: Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Roger Marshall of Kansas and John Kennedy of Louisiana.
The move by Ms. Loeffler, who lost a special election in Georgia and failed to retain her Senate seat, amounted to one of her last acts in the upper chamber and she announced her reversal during remarks on the Senate floor after the debate resumed late Wednesday.
“When I arrived in Washington this morning, I fully intended to object to the certification of the electoral votes,” she said. “However, the events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider, and I cannot now, in good conscience, object.”
Ms. Loeffler’s remarks came after Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and Senator Steve Daines of Montana condemned the actions of the mob of Trump loyalists who stormed the Capitol earlier on Wednesday and said they would no longer back an effort by some of their Republican colleagues to throw out the election results.
Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, joined the group late Wednesday as well, releasing a joint statement with Mr. Daines that called on “the entire Congress to come together and vote to certify the election results.”
Ms. McMorris Rodgers’s remarks were particularly pointed.
“Thugs assaulted Capitol Police officers, breached and defaced our Capitol building, put people’s lives in danger and disregarded the values we hold dear as Americans,” Ms. McMorris Rodgers said in a statement, which she released a day after declaring she would object to the vote counts. “To anyone involved, shame on you.”
“What we have seen today is unlawful and unacceptable,” she added. “I have decided I will vote to uphold the Electoral College results, and I encourage Donald Trump to condemn and put an end to this madness.”
Shortly after Ms. McMorris Rodgers announced her decision, Mr. Daines followed suit, saying he, too, would certify electoral votes after having previously signed onto a letter saying he and other Republican senators “intend to vote on Jan. 6 to reject the electors” from some states.
“Today is a sad day for our country. The destruction and violence we saw at our Capitol today is an assault on our democracy, our Constitution and the rule of law, and must not be tolerated,” he said in his new statement Wednesday night.
“We will not let today’s violence deter Congress from certifying the election,” the statement added. “We must restore confidence in our electoral process. We must, and we will, have a peaceful and orderly transition of power.”
The lawmakers’ reversals came just hours after debate in the House and Senate over the move to overturn the election results was interrupted by the mob of Trump supporters whose move into the Capitol forced some members of Congress to remain locked inside their chambers for a time.
In the hours that followed, top Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence and Representative Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, condemned the violence. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who has publicly opposed efforts by some of his Republican colleagues to throw out the election results, was among those who both decried the violence and went further, laying blame for it at the feet of Mr. Trump.
Shortly after Ms. McMorris Rodgers released her statement announcing her intentions, Representative Lance Gooden, Republican of Texas, made clear that the day’s events would not change his mind.
“I’ve been asked if I’m joining those who are now backpedaling on objecting to the Electoral College certification,” he said in a tweet. “While I’m disgusted with what I saw today, mob riots don’t suddenly make this election secure. YES, of course, I’m still objecting.”
But other lawmakers continued to try to undermine the election. Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri who was one of the leaders seeking to overturn the results of Mr. Biden’s victory, condemned the rampage that occurred hours earlier, but objected to the court-approved actions of Pennsylvania officials who provided more time for voters to mail-in their ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Hawley, who was seen encouraging the mob with a raised fist before their violent attack, was condemned after his speech by Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, who described the day’s events as an “insurrection incited by the president of the United States.”
“Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy,” Mr. Romney said.
In the House, Representative Chip Roy, Republican of Texas, received his own standing ovation from Democrats as he outlined why he would not object.
“That vote may sign my political death warrant,” Mr. Roy declared. “But so be it.”
Senate Leaders Condemn Mob’s Assault on U.S. Capitol
Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, and Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, condemned the storming of the Capitol and vowed that the Senate would finish certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election victory,
“I want to say to the American people: The United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. They tried to disrupt our democracy — they failed. They failed. They failed to attempt to obstruct the Congress. This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our republic. We will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election.” “It is very, very difficult to put into words what has transpired today. I have never lived through or even imagined an experience like the one we have just witnessed in this Capitol. Make no mistake, my friends: Today’s events did not happen spontaneously. The president who promoted conspiracy theories that motivated these thugs, the president who exhorted them to come to our nation’s Capitol, egged them on — he hardly ever discourages violence, and more often encourages it — this president bears a great deal of the blame. We will resume our responsibilities now, and we will finish our task tonight.”
1:33Senate Leaders Condemn Mob’s Assault on U.S. Capitol
Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, and Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, condemned the storming of the Capitol and vowed that the Senate would finish certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election victory,CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
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.”
The New York Times
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.
Pro-Trump Mob Swarms Capitol
Supporters of President Trump swarmed and entered the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, prompting a lockdown and portions of the grounds to be evacuated.
[banging on door] [yelling] “This way! This way! This way! This way!” “They broke the glass?” “Everybody stay down, get down!” [crowd noise] [shot fired] “Take that House, take it now! Take it now!” [flash bang] [crowd noise] “You ain’t gonna stop us!” [flash bang] [crowd noise]
1:22Pro-Trump Mob Swarms Capitol
Supporters of President Trump swarmed and entered the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, prompting a lockdown and portions of the grounds to be evacuated.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
The violence at the Capitol broke out around 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, as the House and the Senate debated the presidential election results. Within minutes of Trump supporters breaching the Capitol complex, a mob was pounding on the doors of the House gallery, where a group of lawmakers were trapped.
“I thought we’d have to fight our way out,” said Representative Jason Crow, Democrat of Colorado and a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq.
He said he moved the others away from the barricaded door in the gallery, helping them don gas masks and telling them to take off the lapel pins assigned to all House members. He took out his only possible weapon: a pen.
Representative Patrick Fallon, Republican of Texas, wrote on Facebook: “We broke off furniture to make clubs to defend the US House of Representatives.”
Multiple lawmakers reported that the Capitol Police had instructed them to take cover on the House floor and prepare to use gas masks after tear gas was dispersed in the Capitol Rotunda.
After 15 minutes, Mr. Crow said, the Capitol Police and SWAT team members cleared a path outside the gallery, above the House floor, and hustled the lawmakers out on a rescue mission.
With the police in the lead, guns drawn, the lawmakers entered a scene of chaos and mayhem, Mr. Crow said. Some officers rushed to barricade other doors to block the mob, which swarmed the hallways just steps from where lawmakers were meeting, wearing and carrying pro-Trump paraphernalia. Other officers pinned some Trump supporters to the ground to allow the lawmakers pass.
“This is insane,” tweeted Representative Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota.
Representative Nancy Mace, a freshman Republican from South Carolina, described seeing people “assaulting Capitol Police.” In a Twitter post, Ms. Mace shared a video of the chaos and wrote, “This is wrong. This is not who we are. I’m heartbroken for our nation today.”
“We heard yelling through the halls,” said Mr. Crow, who said that he brought up the rear to ensure all the members made it to safety. As the police led the lawmakers down stairwells and into the subterranean maze of tunnels to a secure location, Mr. Crow said he called his wife in Colorado, who had been watching the terrifying scene on television.
The shouts of the mob could be heard outside the doors of the Senate as the trespassers breached the building. The police whisked Vice President Mike Pence off the dais and out of the chamber.
As it became clear the Senate chamber was not safe, security officers ordered the senators to leave. They hustled through the tunnels of the Capitol with an armed police escort.
Aides snatched the boxes containing the Electoral College certificates, making sure that the vandals could not literally steal the results of the election. Before long, the invaders were inside the Senate chamber, prowling among the mahogany desks and even sitting on the marble dais where Mr. Pence had been seated not long before.
In the early afternoon, the police fired what appeared to be flash-bang grenades. Rather than disperse, the demonstrators cheered and shouted, “push forward, push forward.” One person shouted, “that’s our house,” meaning the Capitol. Other people repeatedly shouted, “You swore an oath.”
As protesters circled the House chamber, Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, yelled out to Republicans: “Call Trump, tell him to call off his revolutionary guards.”
“It’s horrible that this is America.” said Representative Norma J. Torres, Democrat of California, as the Capitol’s emergency sirens blared. “This is the United States of America, and this is what we have to go through, because Trump has called on homegrown terrorists to come to the Capitol and invalidate people’s votes.”
Lawmakers were determined to resume their work in the Capitol on Wednesday night, if possible, Mr. Crow said. “We want to go back and finish the business of the people to show that we are a democracy, and that the government is stronger than any mob,” he said.
INSIDE THE CAPITOL
A ceremonial session of Congress to formally declare President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory was transformed into a scene of mayhem when a pro-Trump mob stormed the building.
A woman who was fatally shot inside the Capitol after it was overrun by a pro-Trump mob was struck by gunfire from a Capitol Police officer, a police official said Wednesday night.
Chief Robert J. Contee of the Metropolitan Police Department told reporters that the woman had been shot by a police officer on Wednesday afternoon as plainclothes police officers confronted the mob. She later died in a hospital, he said, and the shooting is being investigated.
Chief Contee said that three other deaths were reported on Wednesday — one woman and two men — from the area around the Capitol. He said, without elaborating, that the three people appeared to have “suffered from separate medical emergencies which resulted in their deaths.”
At least 14 Capitol Police officers were been injured during the demonstrations on Wednesday, Chief Contee said, including two who were hospitalized.
A video posted to Twitter earlier on Wednesday appeared to show a shooting in the Capitol.
The woman in the video appeared to climb onto a small ledge next to a doorway inside the building immediately before a single loud bang is heard. The woman, draped in a flag, fell to the ground at the top of a stairwell. A man with a helmet and a military-style rifle stood next to her after she fell, and shouts of “police” could be heard as a man in a suit approached the woman and crouched next to her.
“Where’s she hit?” people yelled as blood streamed around her mouth.
President Trump on Wednesday evening openly condoned on social media the violence unfolding at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol, prompting Facebook and Twitter to remove his posts and lock his accounts.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday evening, after spending much of the afternoon in the Oval Office watching footage of escalating violence unfolding on Capitol Hill. “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
The tweet that appeared to prop up violent protesters as “patriots” and asserted baseless claims about the election outcome came after the president, under public and private pressure from advisers, had offered only a tepid response as the Capitol was breached for the first time in modern history and one woman died after being shot on the Capitol grounds.
Mr. Trump posted the message on both his Twitter and Facebook accounts. Facebook removed the post. Twitter first attached a warning label to the tweet that said it made a disputed claim about election fraud before removing the tweet atogether, claiming it “violated the Twitter Rules.”
In a follow-up message, Twitter said it was suspending the president’s Twitter feed for 12 hours — and possibly more if he did not delete his message — and threatened a permanent suspension if Mr. Trump violated its rules in the future. In doing so, the platform took away the president’s favorite method of communicating with his supporters directly, one he has used often since the election to spread false claims about widespread voter fraud.
Then, around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night, a Facebook spokesman said officials had identified “two policy violations against President Trump’s Page,” and as a result, would block him from posting on the platform for 24 hours.
Even as former administration officials and Democratic leaders called on the president to tell his supporters to “go home,” Mr. Trump for hours did little to discourage them from storming the building. Instead, he issued two perfunctory tweets in which he asked them merely to remain “peaceful.”
“Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue,” he wrote, after shocking scenes of broken windows and waving Confederate flags in the Capitol had been playing on television for hours.
The Trump supporters had made their way to the Capitol at the president’s behest, after attending a rally near the White House, where he baselessly claimed the election results were fraudulent.
It was only hours into the melee, and after an explosive device was found at the Republican National Committee headquarters, that Mr. Trump released a message telling the mob to leave.
“You have to go home now,” he said in a video message filmed at the White House and posted on Twitter. “We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We don’t want anyone hurt.” Still, the president ultimately offered encouragement to the mob, noting: “We love you. You’re very special,” and “I know how you feel.”
But many advisers around the president were worried that his message in the video was not forceful enough and that some of his supporters would interpret it as encouragement to continue fighting for him.
Alyssa Farah, who resigned last month from her post as the White House communications director, tweeted a more direct message at the president’s supporters.
“Dear MAGA- I am one of you. Before I worked for @realDonaldTrump, I worked for @MarkMeadows & @Jim_Jordan & the @freedomcaucus,” she said, establishing her conservative bona fides. “I marched in the 2010 Tea Party rallies. I campaigned w/ Trump & voted for him. But I need you to hear me: the Election was NOT stolen. We lost.”
Earlier in the day the president had also encouraged his supporters with an alternate message. “We will never concede,” Mr. Trump said at the rally.
At the Capitol, some lawmakers who were taken to secure locations blamed the president for the uprising. “This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said.
Some former administration officials publicly tried to encourage Mr. Trump to take a tougher stand to quell the escalating chaos, while other allies privately pressed him to do more. “The President’s tweet is not enough,” Mick Mulvaney, the former acting White House chief of staff, wrote on Twitter. “He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home.”
In a joint statement, Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders, said, “We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protesters leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol grounds immediately.”
But Mr. Trump resisted those private and public entreaties to make any outright condemnation of the violence. Instead, his ire was more focused on Vice President Mike Pence, who earlier in the day made clear that he planned to reject the president’s pressure to block congressional certification of Mr. Biden’s victory. Mr. Pence was evacuated from the Senate chamber as the tension escalated.
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis accused President Trump of instigating the assault on the Capitol on Wednesday and said he should be ostracized.
“Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump,” Mr. Mattis said in a statement. “His use of the presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice.”
Mr. Mattis, who resigned in December 2018 after Mr. Trump’s abrupt decision to order the withdrawal of about 2,000 American troops from eastern Syria without consulting allies, said that the country’s resilience would see it through the tumult.
“Our Constitution and our Republic will overcome this stain, and ‘We the People’ will come together again in our never-ending effort to form a more perfect union while Mr. Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country,” Mr. Mattis said.
He had issued a withering critique of the president’s leadership in June during growing protests across the country. “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try,” Mr. Mattis wrote in a statement at the time.
In the hours after President Trump took to social media to openly condone the violence at the Capitol, he found himself increasingly isolated as White House officials began submitting their resignations, with more expected to follow suit.
Stephanie Grisham, the former White House press secretary who served as the chief of staff to Melania Trump, the first lady, submitted her resignation after the violent protests. Ms. Grisham has worked for the Trumps since the 2016 campaign and is one of their longest-serving aides.
Rickie Niceta, the White House social secretary, also said she was resigning, according to an administration official familiar with her plans who was not authorized to speak publicly. And Sarah Matthews, a deputy White House press secretary, also submitted her resignation, saying in a statement that she was “deeply disturbed by what I saw today.”
More resignations were expected.
Mr. Trump was strangely silent on Wednesday night, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill reconvened to resume counting electoral votes and roundly denounce the violence. His Twitter feed was suspended after he made baseless claims about election fraud and openly condoned the violence of his supporters.
And he was isolated in the West Wing, where the aides who did not quit on the spot also steered clear of him to avoid his line of fire.
The defections of former loyalists started earlier in the day. Many advisers around the president were worried that his message in a video he posted on social media was not forceful enough and that some of his supporters would interpret it as encouragement to continue fighting for him.
“Dear MAGA- I am one of you. Before I worked for @realDonaldTrump, I worked for @MarkMeadows & @Jim_Jordan & the @freedomcaucus,” she wrote, establishing her conservative bona fides. “I marched in the 2010 Tea Party rallies. I campaigned w/ Trump & voted for him. But I need you to hear me: the Election was NOT stolen. We lost.”
After a mob of President Trump’s supporters stormed Capitol Hill, egged on by his rejection of the 2020 election results, a small but growing chorus of civic and business leaders and lawmakers released statements calling for his removal from power.
Some suggested that Vice President Mike Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment, which provides procedures that can be used to replace a sitting president who is no longer capable of fulfilling his duties.
“Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy,” Jay Timmons, the president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
Mr. Timmons, whose organization formerly had a tight working relationship with Mr. Trump, added that the “outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy.”
He was not alone in making that suggestion. Representative Charlie Crist of Florida, who is now a Democrat but was formerly a Republican, posted on Twitter that “The 25th Amendment allows for the removal of a President. It’s time to remove the President.”
Representative Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, echoed that call on Twitter.
Seventeen Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee signed a letter to Mr. Pence calling for the invocation of the 25th Amendment.
“Even in his video announcement this afternoon, President Trump revealed that he is not mentally sound and is still unable to process and accept the results of the 2020 election,” they wrote, referring to the video removed by Twitter.
By Wednesday night, other calls for removal were rolling in slowly but steadily, including from Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, a Republican; Representative Mike Thompson, Democrat of California; Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon; and other members of the House.
Concern centered on Mr. Trump’s rejection of a fair and peaceful transfer of power — he has repeatedly claimed, inaccurately, that the election was unfair or stolen — and on his failure to call off the mob of his supporters as they aggressively and illegally broke into the Capitol building on Wednesday.
Mr. Trump did eventually post a video suggesting they should leave, but in friendly terms.
“Go home, we love you,” he said.
‘Our Democracy Is Under Unprecedented Assault,’ Biden Says
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. called on President Trump to go on television and respond to Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol this afternoon, disrupting the certification of the Electoral College vote.
Our democracy is under unprecedented assault — unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times. An assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward. You’ve heard me say it before in a different context, the words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. 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. It’s not a protest, it’s insurrection. The world is watching. Like so many other Americans, I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation, so long the beacon of light and hope for democracy, has come to such a dark moment. Notwithstanding what I saw today, what we’re seeing today, I remain optimistic about the incredible opportunities. There’s never been anything we can’t do when we do it together. So President Trump, step up.
1:32‘Our Democracy Is Under Unprecedented Assault,’ Biden Says
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. called on President Trump to go on television and respond to Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol this afternoon, disrupting the certification of the Electoral College vote.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. demanded on Wednesday that President Trump call on his supporters to end what Mr. Biden called an “unprecedented assault” on democracy as an angry mob breached the Capitol, delaying the formal certification of the 2020 election and plunging Washington into chaos.
“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,” Mr. Biden said in brief remarks from Wilmington, Del.
Seeking to tamp down the anarchy that Mr. Trump stoked with angry language just hours earlier, Mr. Biden urged rioters to abandon what amounted to an armed occupation of the House and Senate. The president-elect denounced Mr. Trump’s refusal to graciously accept defeat, and suggested that the president was to blame for the violence.
“At their best, the words of a president can inspire,” Mr. Biden said. “At their worst, they can incite.”
He added: “This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition, and it must end now. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.”
Former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter released statements condemning the actions of the mob.
“History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation,” Mr. Obama wrote.
Violent clashes between the police and a pro-Trump mob underscored a grim reality for Mr. Biden: He will not only inherit a country wracked by a pandemic and an economic crisis, but also a political fabric that has been ripped apart by Mr. Trump in ways that have few equals in the nation’s history.
Never before in America’s modern history has the peaceful transfer of power devolved into a physical confrontation inside the corridors of power in Washington, this time egged on by an incumbent president, who on Wednesday morning raged that the election was “rigged” and vowed “we will never concede!”
Unlike Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump remained mostly silent for hours, tweeting only that he hoped his supporters would remain peaceful and eventually saying that the National Guard would be sent to help the police.
Moments after Mr. Biden delivered his remarks, Mr. Trump posted a one-minute video in which he empathized with the rioters because “we had an election that was stolen,” but urged them to “go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order.”
But many of his supporters appeared to dismiss the president’s tweets and video. Protesters waving “TRUMP” flags descended on the Capitol.
Instead of delivering remarks about his plans to accelerate the country’s economic recovery, the president-elect delivered a forceful call for peace as the National Guard raced to Washington.
“At this hour our democracy is under unprecedented assault,” he said, adding later, “Today is a reminder, a painful one, that democracy is fragile.”
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. denounced the storming of the Capitol, calling it “a dark moment” in the nation’s history.
About 1,100 members of the District of Columbia National Guard — all the members who are available — and 650 Virginia National Guard troops will deploy in Washington on Wednesday night, a National Guard spokesman said.
“The entire D.C. National Guard has been mobilized and is prepared to support law enforcement officers in various locations in the city to protect property, allowing federal and local law enforcement officers to do law enforcement missions,” Capt. Tinashe T. Machona, a spokesman for the D.C. Guard, said in a statement.
The troops are being sent to the D.C. Armory and will be deployed to the Capitol and to other points around Washington, the official said.
In a statement, Jonathan Hoffman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Guard had been mobilized and the response would be led by the Justice Department. The decision by Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Christopher C. Miller, the acting defense secretary, came as a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol.
Defense and administration officials said it was Vice President Mike Pence, not President Trump, who approved the order to deploy the D.C. National Guard. It was unclear why the president, who incited his supporters to storm the Capitol and who is still the commander in chief, did not give the order. President Trump initially rebuffed and resisted requests to mobilize the National Guard, according to a person with knowledge of the events. It required intervention from the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, among other officials, the person familiar with the events said.
A Defense official said that 150 D.C. National Guard troops were en route to the Capitol at 5:20 p.m. to back up the police in clearing the area. The troops, the official said, would be wearing protective and riot gear but would not be armed, although that could change if the situation deteriorated Wednesday night. The troops would be stationed around the grounds of the Capitol to re-establish a perimeter.
Mr. Miller said on Wednesday afternoon that he had spoken with Mr. Pence, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senators Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, and Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland about the situation at the Capitol. He notably did not mention Mr. Trump in his statement.
“We have fully activated the D.C. National Guard to assist federal and local law enforcement as they work to peacefully address the situation,” Mr. Miller said. “We are prepared to provide additional support as necessary and appropriate as requested by local authorities. Our people are sworn to defend the Constitution and our democratic form of government, and they will act accordingly.”
Mr. Hoffman noted that the troops were deploying in “support” of federal law enforcement in the district, reflecting Defense officials’ reluctance to send military troops to the Capitol. Defense officials want the authorities in Washington to use the local police and other law enforcement agencies to confront the mob, with the National Guard troops in support but not in the lead, to avoid the specter of a military battling election protests.
But the tense standoff at the Capitol, and the breach by Trump supporters, led to the decision, officials said.
The F.B.I. also mobilized its officers to reinforce the Capitol Police, a spokesman said. And at the request of U.S. National Guard officials, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York will deploy 1,000 members of the New York National Guard to Washington for up to two weeks, he said in a statement Wednesday night.
Bureau agents went to the Capitol grounds on Wednesday to help the police on the scene protect the building and the public. A handful of the F.B.I. agents arrived in camouflage and bearing shields and machine guns late in the afternoon outside the secure location where the senators were being held.
The deployment signaled the growing alarm among federal officials viewing the chaos swirling at the Capitol on Wednesday.
“The F.B.I. has been deployed to assist our U.S. Capitol Police partners, as requested, in protection of federal property and public safety,” the F.B.I. statement said.
The bureau would not say how many of its agents were deployed to the Capitol. But a former government official said that all F.B.I. agents in the region were alerted earlier on Wednesday that they could be called to downtown Washington.
Just after 1 p.m., when President Trump ended his speech to protesters in Washington by calling for them to march on Congress, hundreds of echoing calls to storm the building were made by his supporters online.
On social media sites requested by the far-right, such as Gab and Parler, directions on which streets to take to avoid the police and which tools to bring to help pry open doors were exchanged in comments. At least a dozen people posted about carrying guns into the halls of Congress.
Calls for violence against members of Congress and for pro-Trump movements to retake the Capitol building have been circulating online for months. Bolstered by Mr. Trump, who has courted fringe movements like QAnon and the Proud Boys, groups have openly organized on social media networks and recruited others to their cause.
On Wednesday, their online activism became real-world violence, leading to unprecedented scenes of mobs freely strolling through the halls of Congress and uploading celebratory photographs of themselves, encouraging others to join them.
On Gab, they documented going into the offices of members of Congress, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Dozens posted about searching for Vice President Mike Pence, who had been the target of Mr. Trump’s ire earlier in the day.
At 2:24 p.m., after Mr. Trump tweeted that Mr. Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done,” dozens of messages on Gab called for those inside the Capitol building to hunt down the vice president. In videos uploaded to the channel, protesters could be heard chanting “Where is Pence?”
As Facebook and Twitter began to crack down groups like QAnon and the Proud Boys over the summer, they slowly migrated to other sites that allowed them to openly call for violence.
Renee DiResta, a researcher at the Stanford Internet Observatory who studies online movements, said the violence Wednesday was the result of online movements operating in closed social media networks where people believed the claims of voter fraud and of the election being stolen from Mr. Trump.
“These people are acting because they are convinced an election was stolen,” DiResta said. “This is a demonstration of the very real-world impact of echo chambers.”
She added: “This has been a striking repudiation of the idea that there is an online and an offline world and that what is said online is in some way kept online.”
Democrats took control of the Senate on Wednesday with a pair of historic victories in Georgia’s runoff elections, assuring slim majorities in both chambers of Congress for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and delivering an emphatic, final rebuke to President Trump in his last days in office.
The Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Senator Kelly Loeffler, becoming the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the South. And Jon Ossoff, the 33-year-old head of a video production company who has never held public office, defeated David Perdue, who recently completed his first full term as senator.
Both Democrats now lead their defeated Republican opponents by margins that are larger than the threshold required to trigger a recount under Georgia law.
The Democrats’ twin victories will reshape the balance of power in Washington. Though they will have the thinnest of advantages in the House and Senate, where Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will break 50-50 ties, Democrats will control the committees and the legislation and nominations brought to the floor. That advantage will pave the way for at least some elements of Mr. Biden’s agenda.
Mr. Ossoff’s victory comes at a moment when the nation’s political leadership has been paralyzed by a pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol and halted the formal accepting of the Electoral College results by Congress. The day’s extraordinary proceedings — rioting interrupting the peaceful transition of political power — crystallized the campaign the Georgia Democrats ran against their Republican opponents, both of whom pledged to seek to overturn the results of the presidential election to keep Mr. Trump in office.
The Republicans’ losses in a state that Mr. Biden narrowly carried in November, but that still leans right politically, also amounted to a vivid illustration of the perils of embracing Mr. Trump. He put his diminished political capital on the line with an election eve appearance in Northwest Georgia. And Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler unwaveringly embraced the president throughout the runoff races even as he refused to acknowledge Mr. Biden’s victory and brazenly demanded that Georgia state officials overturn his loss in the state.
The political fallout of Mr. Trump’s tenure is now clear: His single term in the White House will conclude with Republicans having lost the presidency, the House and the Senate on his watch.
Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock won thanks to a frenetic get-out-the-vote push that began immediately after the November election, when no candidate in either race claimed the majority needed to avoid a runoff. Driving turnout among liberals and Black voters in the early-voting period, Democrats built an insurmountable advantage going into election day.
They won thanks to overwhelming margins in Georgia’s cities, decisive victories in Georgia’s once-Republican suburbs and because of lackluster turnout on Tuesday in the rural counties that now make up the G.O.P. base.
In thousands of posts on Twitter and Facebook, members of the far right pushed the unfounded claim that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, carrying Trump flags and halting Congress’s counting of electoral votes, was made up of liberal activists posing as a pro-Trump community to give it a bad name.
Several posts shared by thousands of people held up photographs as evidence that antifa supporters were behind the unrest. But those images did not, in fact, show antifa involvement. Instead, some of the photographs, and the information contained in them, suggested ties to far right movements.
Even President Trump acknowledged that the people who supported him — not liberal activists — had invaded the Capitol. At one point on Wednesday he told the mob that “we love you.”
Among the most popular figures pushing the conspiracy theory were the commentator Candace Owens, the Georgia lawyer L. Lin Wood and Juanita Broaddrick, a nursing home administrator who in 1999 publicly accused President Bill Clinton of raping her in 1978. Other prominent figures spreading the rumor included Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas; Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential candidate; and Representative Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican.
The rumor that supporters of the antifa movement — a loosely organized collective of antifascist activists — had posed as members of the far right on Wednesday was shared more than 150,000 times on Twitter and thousands of times more on Facebook, according to an analysis by The New York Times. Altogether, the accounts pushing the rumor had tens of millions of followers.
“Indisputable photographic evidence that antifa violently broke into Congress today to inflict harm & do damage,” Mr. Wood posted on Twitter. “NOT @realDonaldTrump supporters.”
The “photographic evidence” that Mr. Wood pointed to in his post included a link to phillyantifa.org, where the photo of a bearded man involved in the mob was hosted. But that particular page exposed photos of known individuals in the neo-Nazi movement.
Another popular post, shared at least 39,000 times on Twitter, claimed without evidence that a “former FBI agent on the ground at U.S. Capitol just texted me and confirmed at least 1 ‘bus load’ of Antifa thugs infiltrated the peaceful Trump demonstrators.”
Untrue claims that “busloads” or “planeloads” of antifascist activists infiltrated protests are a common refrain from the far right.
In response to the baseless assertion, a Twitter user said, “Of course they did.” The user attached photos of a man wearing a horned helmet with his face painted in an American flag design as an apparent example of an antifa supporter.
The man was not an antifa supporter. Instead, he is a longtime QAnon supporter who has been a fixture at Arizona right-wing political rallies in recent months, according to The Arizona Republic.
Ben Decker and Jacob Silver contributed research.
An explosive device was found at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee in Washington and the nearby headquarters of the Democratic National Committee was evacuated after the discovery of a suspicious package on Wednesday, according to three people briefed on the discoveries.
The device that was found at the R.N.C. was a pipe bomb that was successfully destroyed by a bomb squad, according to an official for the R.N.C.
The package at the D.N.C. has yet to be identified, according to a top Democrat briefed on the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
The R.N.C. and D.N.C. are headquartered just a few blocks away from the U.S. Capitol, which Mr. Trump’s supporters stormed on Wednesday afternoon soon as Congress had gathered to certify President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory and shortly after the president addressed the crowd near the White House.
As a mob breached the Capitol, Vice President Mike Pence was rushed from the Senate chamber and the building was placed on lockdown. Shortly after, Mr. Trump tweeted that Mr. Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” because he did not try to reject the electors.
The National Guard for Washington and Virginia was activated Wednesday afternoon to respond to the unrest.
And the federal authorities arrested a 70-year-old man from Alabama near the Capitol in possession of a firearm and materials to make several Molotov cocktails.
As supporters of President Trump breached the nation’s Capitol on Wednesday, hundreds of other Trump supporters across the country gathered at state capitols, in some cases prompting evacuations and law enforcement mobilizations.
In Washington State, a crowd of Trump supporters, some of them armed, breached the fence surrounding the governor’s residence and approached the building before state troopers mobilized to keep them away. Noting that protesters have had grievances about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Jay Inslee said in a video statement that political leaders would not be swayed by the protests.
“Those acts of intimidation will not succeed,” said Mr. Inslee, a Democrat. No arrests were made.
In Georgia, law enforcement officers escorted Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger out of the State Capitol on Wednesday afternoon as a few dozen Trump supporters outside the building rallied to protest the recent election results.
Chris Hill, the leader of a right-wing militia, said he called some of his “troops” to the statehouse to protest, repeating the president’s false claim that the election was “rigged.” Mr. Hill said he believed the nation was headed toward a civil war.
In New Mexico, a lawmaker reported that the State Police were evacuating the Capitol, while Mayor Michael B. Hancock of Denver instructed city government buildings to close as about 700 people gathered outside the statehouse there. The authorities in Texas shut down the Capitol building in Austin “out of an abundance of caution.”
Trump supporters burned an effigy of Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon outside the Capitol in Salem and later fought with counterprotesters. In Arizona, they set up a guillotine.
More than 500 people gathered in Lansing, Mich., praying and carrying a mix of flags and guns.
“We have a restored voice in Michigan,” said Rick Warzywak, one of the organizers of the rally from Atlanta, Mich. “No matter what happens today in D.C., do not be discouraged. We’re going to be in a consistent battle for weeks to come and we’re not going to give up.”
In Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California canceled a news briefing on the coronavirus to ensure the safety of his staff, he said in a statement.
Outside the grounds of the California State Capitol, which had been cordoned off with barriers and was being patrolled heavily by the police, a few hundred Trump supporters demonstrated for a few hours, waving flags and listening to the president’s address. The Sacramento police reported “physical altercations” between the group and counterprotesters and several arrests for possession of pepper spray before the gathering was organically dispersed by a cold afternoon rainstorm.
Some state capitol buildings have seen volatile demonstrations that have included clashes with the police and arrests in the weeks since the November election.
Vice President Mike Pence and other top Republican leaders denounced the violence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, as President Trump’s efforts to encourage the mob of his supporters to leave peacefully drew criticism for not being forceful enough.
“The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now,” Mr. Pence wrote on Twitter.
“This attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he continued.
Many of the other Republicans who sought to distance themselves from the mob violence on Wednesday had previously tolerated or outright encouraged efforts to subvert the results of the election.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the first Republican senator to object to the certification of the election results during a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, denounced the storming of the Capitol building on Twitter, insisting that violence “is ALWAYS wrong.”
He did not, however, withdraw his objections to the results of the election.
“Those storming the Capitol need to stop NOW,” Mr. Cruz wrote. “Those engaged in violence are hurting the cause they say they support.”
Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the top Republican in the House and an early supporter of efforts to overturn the results of the election, called the violence on Capitol Hill “unacceptable” and “un-American.”
“I condemn any of this violence. I could not be more disappointed with the way our country looks right now,” Mr. McCarthy said in an appearance on Fox News, adding that he had called on the president to make a statement against the violence. “This is not the American way. This is not protected by the First Amendment. This must stop now.”
Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and an outspoken opponent of efforts by Republicans to subvert the election results, furiously denounced Mr. Trump for encouraging the chaos.
In a statement condemning the rioting hours later, Mr. Romney said that lawmakers should not be intimidated by the acts of violence, and he called on Congress to continue certification of the election results.
“We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters who he has deliberately misinformed,” Mr. Romney wrote. “We must not be intimidated or prevented from fulfilling our constitutional duty.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien, top members of Mr. Trump’s national security team, condemned the riots in statements released later in the evening.
“The storming of the U.S. Capitol today is unacceptable. Lawlessness and rioting — here or around the world — is always unacceptable,” Mr. Pompeo wrote.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also condemned the violence, writing in a statement that “an angry mob cannot be allowed to attack our Capitol.”
“The peaceful transfer of power is what separates American representative democracy from banana republics,” Ms. DeVos added. “The work of the people must go on.”
Other Republican senators swiftly condemned the violence on Twitter.
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, wrote on Twitter that there was “nothing patriotic about what is occurring on Capitol Hill.” He then pleaded with Mr. Trump to personally call for an end to the mob violence.
“Mr. President @realDonaldTrump the men & women of law enforcement are under assault,” Mr. Rubio wrote. “It is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down.
Later in the evening, as law enforcement agencies evicted the mob from the building, Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, condemned the president for encouraging the violence, saying that “lies have consequences.”
“Today, the United States Capitol, — the world’s greatest symbol of self-government — was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard,” Mr. Sasse said in a statement. “This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a longtime ally of President Trump, also denounced the storming of the Capitol building, demanding criminal prosecution for those who participated, and praised President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. for addressing the violence.
“I could not agree more with President-elect Biden’s statement to the nation. Time to retake the Capitol, end the violence, & stop the madness,” Mr. Graham said on Twitter. Republican members of the House who did not sign on to efforts to dispute the results of the election also vocally criticized the efforts.
“We are witnessing absolute banana republic crap in the United States Capitol right now.” Representative Mike Gallagher, Republican of Wisconsin, said in a video recorded in his congressional office, where he was sheltering in place. “This is the cost of countenancing an effort by Congress to overturn the election.”
Just days into his first term in Congress, Representative Peter Meijer, Republican of Michigan, denounced Mr. Trump after he posted a video in which he advised members of his mob to “go home” but also spoke in sympathetic and affectionate terms
“Enough. Acknowledge Biden as President-Elect and end this madness,” Mr. Meijer wrote on Twitter. “Violent rioters laid siege to the nation’s Capitol in an act of insurrection unparalleled in modern times. This is not leadership.”
‘The Most Important Vote’: McConnell Rebukes Efforts to Overturn Election
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, forcefully rebuked President Trump and members of his own party on Wednesday as they sought to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
I’ve served 36 years in the Senate. This will be the most important vote I’ve ever cast. President Trump claims the election was stolen. The assertions range from specific local allegations to constitutional arguments to sweeping conspiracy theories. I supported the president’s right to use the legal system. Dozens of lawsuits received hearings in courtrooms all across our country, but over and over … … the courts rejected these claims, including all-star judges, whom the president himself has nominated. If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. We’d never see the whole nation accept an election again. Every four years would be a scramble for power at any cost.
1:22‘The Most Important Vote’: McConnell Rebukes Efforts to Overturn Election
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, forcefully rebuked President Trump and members of his own party on Wednesday as they sought to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the most powerful Republican on Capitol Hill, forcefully rebuked President Trump and members of his own party on Wednesday as they sought to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, warning that the drive to overturn a legitimate election risked sending democracy into “a death spiral.”
In a lengthy speech defending his intention to vote against challenges to Mr. Biden’s victory — which he framed as “the most important vote I have ever cast” — Mr. McConnell urged his Republican colleagues ready to follow the president to step back from the brink.
He called some of Mr. Trump’s claims “sweeping conspiracy theories” and implicitly rebuked a dozen or so senators justifying their objections to the results by saying they were merely acts of protest.
“The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken,” Mr. McConnell, the majority leader, said. “If we overrule them all, it would damage our republic forever.”
He added a short time later: “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.”
But even as he spoke, there were signs outside the Capitol that the country was already in the throes of such a vicious cycle. Mr. McConnell, who was the first senator to rise in a debate over objections to electors from the state of Arizona, spoke as thousands of demonstrators massed outside the Capitol, clashing violently with the police and ultimately storming the building where Congress convenes.
Mr. McConnell’s remarks came on a day when he appeared to be headed back into the minority after six years of running the Senate, thanks, at least in part, to Mr. Trump’s relentless election attacks that have badly split the party. But while the president will be leaving office in two weeks, Mr. McConnell, 78, is likely to continue leading his party, and wants to play a crucial role in rebuilding it after years of Mr. Trump.
The intraparty brawl prompted by the election challenges was a situation Mr. McConnell had feared and that had prompted him to initially refrain from recognizing Mr. Biden’s victory for weeks after November’s election, wary of inflaming Mr. Trump’s grievances with his party.
When he did recognize Mr. Biden, his critics argued that the acknowledgment came too late, and that by waiting silently, Mr. McConnell had allowed Mr. Trump to sow dangerous disinformation with millions of Republican voters, drawing the backing of elected officials in his own party.
On Wednesday, Mr. McConnell said he had seen enough.
“It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise American voters and overrule the courts and the states on this thin basis,” he said. “I will vote to respect the people’s decision and defend our system of government as we know it.”
Over a dozen House Democrats on Wednesday called for President Trump’s impeachment or immediate removal from office, citing the chaos he stoked after he encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol and refused to accept the results of the election.
Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, the assistant speaker, became the highest ranked lawmaker to call for his removal, calling the president “a traitor to our country and our Constitution.”
“He must be removed from office and prevented from further endangering our country and our people,” Ms. Clark said.
Representative Alexandria Occasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, was more concise, simply posting the word “Impeach” on Twitter Wednesday evening.
Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts, said the president was “directly responsible for this insurrection and violence,” and called on Vice President Mike Pence to lead the cabinet in invoking the 25th Amendment, which provides procedures that can be used to replace a sitting president who is no longer capable of fulfilling his duties.
“Or Congress must immediately impeach and remove the President for the safety of our nation,” Mr. Moulton said.
In 2019, Mr. Trump became the third American president to be impeached for committing high crimes and misdemeanors, the fallout of his pressure campaign on the Ukrainian government to announce investigations that could help him politically. He was later acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.
With less than two weeks left in the president’s term, another impeachment effort is unlikely to be successful, and some lawmakers, like Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, were already tamping down the idea on Wednesday.
But the calls for impeachment underscored the fury felt by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the hours after a pro-Trump mob ransacked the Capitol, and by Wednesday evening, even some Republican lawmakers were laying the blame squarely at Mr. Trump’s feet.
“The president bears responsibility for today’s events by promoting the unfounded conspiracy theories that have led to this point,” said Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, in an uncharacteristically scathing statement. “It is past time to accept the will of American voters and to allow our nation to move forward.”
Images beamed around the world of Trump supporters storming and vandalizing the United States Capitol elicited alarm from the nation’s allies — and glee from its critics.
“This is not merely a US. national issue, but it shakes the world, at least all democracies,” said Peter Beyer, the German government’s coordinator for trans-Atlantic affairs.
In France, a member of the European Parliament, Nathalie Loiseau, sounded a warning that evoked the political battles in her own country. “A message to those who find populists amusing or are indifferent to them: This is what they are capable of,” she wrote on Twitter.
Later Wednesday evening, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the violence and said on Twitter that storming the Capitol was “unacceptable.”
“Lawlessness and rioting — here or around the world — is always unacceptable,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Months after the Black Lives Matter protests put racial tensions and police bias in the United States into the international spotlight, some observers were quick to see the assault in Washington as a further breakdown of law enforcement.
Analysts on Mexican television pointed out that the members of the mob were overwhelmingly white, noting that the police response to Black or Latino protesters would likely have been more violent. Mexican reporters who have covered the United States closely watched in astonishment as their neighbor’s capital city descended into chaos.
“I’m amazed at the lack of preparedness of the Capitol police and D.C. police,” said Carlos Puig, a Mexican television host and newspaper columnist. “I guess the U.S. institutions never thought this would happen to them.”
In Russia, the violence fit neatly into the Kremlin’s propaganda narrative of a crumbling American democracy. Russia’s state-controlled news channel, Rossiya-24, broadcast the chaos at the Capitol as part of a split screen, with one side showing happy Orthodox Christmas festivities in Russia, the other the mayhem in Washington.
In Israel, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak alluded to President Trump’s angry speechmaking in recent days as an open attempt at incitement.
“A shaky coup attempt on Capitol Hill. Lots of incitement by a defeated president who lost his temper,” Mr. Barak wrote on Twitter. “The lesson is clear: When those who are in charge are allowed to go wild, and those who had to act are paralyzed by fear — even the impossible can happen.”
The government of Venezuela, a frequent target of criticism from the Trump administration, issued a statement on Twitter that condemned “political polarization” in the United States and expressed hopes that the American people will finally be able to open a path toward “stability and social justice.”
A newly elected lawmaker from West Virginia was among the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the United States Capitol on Wednesday, filming as he stood among the crowd outside a door, rushing with them inside and wandering through the halls along with the scores of others who had breached the building.
The Republican lawmaker, Derrick Evans, posted the video to his Facebook page, where he goes by “Derrick Evans — The Activist” on Wednesday afternoon, but he later deleted it.
Mr. Evans, who was elected as a member of the House of Delegates in November, posted several videos from the events of the day, both narrating and joining in “Stop the Steal” chants with throngs of other Trump supporters. In the video that was deleted, he was among a crowd that shoved up against a door at the Capitol’s east front, some chanting and others loudly singing the national anthem. Those at the front appear to be trying to get inside, while Mr. Evans gives a running commentary on the attempts.
“We’re going in,” he says, at one point turning the camera to show himself wearing a helmet.
In a statement on Facebook on Wednesday evening, Mr. Evans said that he had “traveled across the country to film many different events,” and that earlier he had “had the opportunity to film at another event in DC.”
“I want to assure you all that I did not have any negative interactions with law enforcement nor did I participate in any destruction that may have occurred,” he wrote. “I was simply there as an independent member of the media to film history.”
The speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates, Roger Hanshaw, said in a statement on Wednesday night that he had “not spoken to Delegate Evans about today’s events,” though he said he saw what was posted on social media. Mr. Hanshaw, a Republican, added that “storming government buildings and participating in a violent intentional disruption of one of our nation’s most fundamental political institutions is a crime that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Mr. Evans was not the only Republican state lawmaker drawn to Washington to oppose the Electoral College counting.
A former Pennsylvania legislator, Rick Saccone, posted an image on social media of himself and a current state senator, Doug Mastriano, who led a panel last year airing baseless claims of voter fraud in Pennsylvania, and is a regular guest on the conservative television station Newsmax.
In a video he posted to Facebook that was later removed, Mr. Saccone, who lost a 2018 race for Congress, wrote in the caption: “We are storming the capitol. Our vanguard has broken thru the barricades.”
“We’re trying to run out all the evil people in there and all the RINOs who have betrayed our president,’’ he said while standing in the crowd, using an acronym for “Republicans in name only.” “We’re going to run them out of their offices.’’
Later in the evening, Mr. Mastriano, who is thought to have ambitions to run for governor in 2022 and accepted an invitation to the White House in late December, tried to distance himself from the mob break-in. “The violence on Capitol Hill today is unacceptable, unamerican and should be condemned by every citizen,” he wrote on Facebook. “This is not the American way.”
LAWMAKERS IN CROWD
Derrick Evans, a newly elected member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, and Doug Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator, were among those in Washington on Wednesday.
During the protests after the killing of George Floyd in May, President Trump vowed to “dominate” demonstrators, calling them “extremists” and “thugs,” while federal agents deployed tear gas and swept people into unmarked vans.
Peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square were suddenly met with flash grenades and chemical spray and rushed by police officers in riot gear to clear the way for President Trump to pose with a Bible in front of St. John’s Church.
Mr. Trump said that anyone who breached a security fence outside the White House would encounter “the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”
The tone, and the initial law enforcement response, were strikingly different on Wednesday as a lawless and destructive mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol and disrupted the counting of the Electoral College votes. One video appeared to show Capitol Police officers moving aside barriers and retreating as the mob flooded through.
Inside the Capitol, an officer pleaded with a man in a green backpack, saying, “You guys just need to go outside.” When asked why they weren’t expelling the protesters, the officer said, “We’ve just got to let them do their thing now.”
A flood of commentary followed, with many noting that the mob appeared to be largely white and insisting that they would have been treated far more harshly had they been Black or protesting racism.
Ivanka Trump called the rioters “American patriots” while urging them to stop the violence, in a tweet she later deleted. Her brother, Donald Trump Jr., said, “This is wrong and not who we are,” adding, “Don’t start acting like the other side.”
In a video posted hours after the attack on the Capitol began, President Trump repeated the false claim that the election had been stolen, adding “but you have to go home now.” He added, “We love you.”