American insurrection: Congress certifies Biden's victory, Trump promises "orderly transition"
As Democrats and Republicans traded fiery speeches on the Senate floor, mass scuffles were breaking out in front of the building, as Trump supporters rushed the barricades manned by Capitol police.
Images broadcast by multiple networks showed protesters, part of a large Washington rally called by Trump and his allies, fighting with security personnel and breaking through the barriers in some cases.
CNN reporter Phil Mattingly reporter described the scenes as police lines were breached and thousands climbed up the steps of the Capitol building and massing at its entrance. "I've never seen anything like this," he said. Shortly after, reports of protesters on the second floor of the Capitol broke.
According to The Hill, several congressional buildings were evacuated, as police scrambled to deal with the threat and told journalists to "use the tunnels" if they wanted to pass through the perimeter.
Update, January 7, 5:00 AM ET: Trump promises "orderly transition"
After having his Twitter account locked for at least 12 hours and his posts taken down on Facebook, Donald Trump was left with having to communicate in a more old-fashioned way.
He finally broke his hours of silence with a statement sent to CNN, arguably the very definition of too little, too late. In it, Trump reiterated his belief that the election results were fraudulent, but nevertheless promised that "there will be an orderly transition on January 20th."
But the message then reverted to the usual Trump tone, calling his first term the greatest in American history and saying that the "fight to Make America Great Again" was only at its beginning.
Update, January 7, 3:45 AM ET: Congress certifies Biden victory in all-night joint session
It's official – and after what happened in the nation's capital over the past hours, that's saying a lot.
Joseph R. Biden will be the 46th president of the United States. A marathon joint session of Congress completed the certification process that started the day before.
What should have been a mere formality was first complicated by Republican objections to the final Electoral College vote count in Arizona and Pennsylvania, then by a full-blown insurrectionist mob of Trump supporters, who stormed the Capitol building.
After the session resumed late last evening, there was further posturing from some Republicans arguing against certifying the Pennsylvania vote. There was even a small scuffle as GOP Representative Andy Harris from Maryland was outraged at having his party's obstructionist efforts described as "lies." Eventually, the objections were voted down. It's worth noting that only one third of Republicans accepted the Pennsylvania results.
But after all the noise, the broken glass and death, VP Mike Pence presided over the certification of results from the remaining states, bringing Biden's total to 306 electoral votes and putting an end to an incredible day in American history:
"The announcement of the state of the vote by the president of the senate shall be deemed as sufficient of the election of the president and the vice-president.”
Update, 6:00 PM ET: Woman dies after being shot on Capitol grounds
NBC News is now reporting that the unidentified woman shot in the Capitol earlier today has died of her wounds. It's still unclear what led to the shooting or who was involved in it.
In the meantime, the DC curfew has officially kicked in, but many Trump supporters show no signs of moving from the Capitol lawn. Authorities are so far making no effort to intervene.
Update, 5:40 PM ET: Vice president Pence, not Trump, called in the National Guard
The Pentagon clarified that it was actually VP Mike Pence who told the National Guard to move in and clear the protesters ransacking the Capitol.
This directly contradicts a tweet put out earlier by White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (see update at 4 PM), saying that it was Trump's decision.
As several law enforcement agencies created a perimeter around the Capitol building, the 6 PM curfew announced by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser draws closer.
Most protesters have slowly dispersed, but not before harassing media teams on their way out in some cases.
Update, 4:30 PM ET: Trump asks supporters to "go home," repeats election fraud claims; Republicans lose Senate
In a video posted on Twitter, Donald Trump finally addressed his out of control supporters directly, telling them to "go home in peace" – but only after railing yet again that the election was "stolen."
He spent most of the 62-second clip rehashing the same baseless claims that have become a staple of American politics over the past two months. Calling protesters who smashed through Capitol windows "very special," Trump commiserated with them and called his opponents evil.
Almost at the same time, The Associated Press confirmed that Republicans have lost the Senate after Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated incumbent David Perdue in the Georgia runoff election.
Reverend Raphael Warnock had already won his race with Republican Kelly Loeffler, which means the Senate is now split 50-50, giving VP-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.
Update, 4:20 PM: President-elect Biden tells Trump to "step up"
Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, President-elect Joe Biden called on Trump to make a televised address to his supporters and ask them to back down.
Calling the storming of the Capitol "an insurrection" and an "unprecedented assault," the Democrat gave an impassioned speech about the values of tolerance and decency that "reflect the true America".
Biden finished by asking Trump to "step up".
Update, 4:00 PM ET: Trump sends in national guard
The cavalry is on the way. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed that the National Guard has been mobilized "at President Donald Trump's direction."
State troopers are also coming in from the state of Maryland, according to Governor Mike Ricci.
Update, 3:45 PM ET: VP Mike Pence calls for end to "attack on our Capitol"
In a rather more forceful intervention than the president's, VP Mike Pence called on protesters to "immediately leave" the Capitol building. Notably, he referred to the surreal scenes as "an attack" and promised to hold those responsible to account.
On that note, many observers have noted how wildly different the law enforcement response has been when compared to the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the nation and the capital last summer.
"The incredible show of force that we saw in DC this summer... Where is it? That was nowhere near what we are seeing happen today as lawmakers in both chambers are in lockdown and unable to continue their duties while violent protestors storm the Capitol," CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip tweeted.
The discrepancy is all the more striking because in June, Trump ordered the teargassing of peaceful protesters gathered in Lafayette Square – not far from the Capitol – in preparation for a photoshoot at St. John's Episcopal Church.
Update, 3:30 PM ET: One woman in critical condition after being shot
CNN and several other outlets are now reporting that a woman, whose identity hasn't been confirmed, has been shot on Capitol grounds. She is said to be in critical condition.
Meanwhile, it seems that Capitol police – which for the most part has been completely incapable of dealing with the situation – eventually managed to clear the House floor, which had been overrun by protesters posing on the dais and milling about aimlessly.
Reinforcements from neighboring police forces and the Virginia National Guard are on the way.
Update, 2:45 PM ET: Reports of shots fired on Senate floor
Huffington Post reporter Matt Fuller tweeted that Trump supporters are shooting into the Senate chamber. A photo shows several Capitol police officers with their guns drawn in front of the locked chamber doors.
A figure is visible on the other side, although it's unclear whether the person is armed.
Update, 2:40 PM ET: Trump asks supporters to "stay peaceful"
About an hour after the storming of the Capitol began, as more and more protesters streamed into the building, Donald Trump finally addressed the shocking scenes with a relatively meek tweet.
"Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!" he wrote. Meanwhile, CNN reported that members of Congress are being supplied with gas masks in preparation for an evacuation effort.
Hundreds of Trump supporters breach the Capitol building
In the two months since the US presidential election, Trump has refused to admit that he lost the election to president-elect Joe Biden (78).
Trump's allies instead filed dozens of lawsuits to have the results of the election overturned in key swing states. Nearly them have been dismissed due to a lack of evidence.
The outgoing president enthusiastically promoted the Washington rally over the past days.
Cover photo: imago images / Bildbyran