As Congress convened to count the electoral votes that would confirm Joe Biden as the next president of the United States, a mob of President Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol while thousands swarmed the steps outside. Many chanted: “Stop the steal.”
Lawmakers put on gas masks and fled to a secure location while the rioters — many wearing Make America Great Again merchandise and camouflage clothing, and waving Trump flags — roamed the halls, smashed windows and broke into offices. The D.C. National Guard was activated, and Virginia’s governor dispatched members of the state’s National Guard and state troopers. At least one woman was fatally shot inside the building, according to D.C. police.
Muriel Bowser, the mayor of D.C., issued a 12-hour citywide curfew from 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Nobody except essential workers should “walk, bike, run, loiter, stand or motor by car or other mode of transport,” Bowser said.
Earlier in the day, Trump held a rally near the White House and told thousands of his supporters that “we will never concede” and then encouraged them to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol to “take back our country.”
As chaos unfolded at the Capitol, many members of Congress turned to social media to assure their constituents that they were safe and weigh in on the melee. Though there were many messages condemning the violence and asking the mob to stop, a handful of congresswomen — including some of the members of “the squad” — took a step further.
On Thursday morning, after Congress stayed in session through the night to ratify Biden’s election victory, the House of Representatives adjourned until after the inauguration and the Senate until January 19.
Hours later, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York demanded action: “If the 25th Amendment is not invoked today, Congress must reconvene immediately for impeachment and removal proceedings.”
The articles of impeachment were drafted and finalized by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet.
Omar had tweeted that she was “heartbroken” that members of Congress were “running for our lives” in the United States.
“We can’t allow him to remain in office,” Omar said on Twitter. “It’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan also called for the president’s immediate impeachment and removal.
“This is on Donald Trump, period,” Tlaib said in a statement. “He called folks to D.C. and gave them marching orders.”
Within hours of the breach, Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, who was sworn in just days before, assured the public on social media that she and her team were safe but in disbelief that “domestic terrorists” were roaming the Capitol’s halls.
Bush called for every Republican member of Congress to publicly condemn or denounce the violent incident and introduced a resolution calling for the expulsion of those who “incited this domestic terror attack through their attempts to overturn the election.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts also announced that President Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from Office by the Senate “as soon as Congress reconvenes.”
“This is dangerous and unacceptable,” Pressley said in a statement.
Rep. Karen Bass of California posted photos of some of the rioters on social media and called for their arrest.
“Every single person that scaled the Capitol with rope should be arrested,” Bass said in a statement. “Every single person that broke into Speaker Pelosi’s office should be arrested. Every single person that broke into the Senate Chamber should be arrested.”
Rep. Liz Cheney, a member of the president’s own party, later attributed the violence to President Trump but stopped short of calling for action against him.”We just had a violent mob assault the Capitol in an attempt to prevent those from carrying out our Constitutional duty,” Cheney said in a tweet. “There is no question that the President formed the mob, the President incited the mob, the President addressed the mob. He lit the flame.”
Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, a Republican who was recently sworn in, also took to social media during the chaos and asked the president to “please do something… I thought we were the party of law and order.” Mace later said Congress does not have the power to change election results and restated her commitment to certify the electoral votes in favor of Biden.
“This is not who we are,” said Mace, who also stopped short of calling for stronger action against the president. “This is not how our American democracy functions.”