After President Donald Trump invested weeks stirring up his followers with unfounded accusations of fraud in the Nov. 3 election, the turmoil in the U.S. Capitol erupted on Wednesday, resulting in a request to protest to the house that serves US democracy.
On Wednesday, the day the US House of Representatives and Senate were expected to certify the findings of the Electoral College, Trump, who refused to acknowledge his defeat to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, had begged his followers many times to come to Washington for a protest.
“The 2020 election is statistically impossible to lose,” Trump, a Republican, tweeted on Dec. 20. “Big January 6th protest in DC. Be there, you’re going to be wild! ”
They came out in the thousands and witnessed the president ask them to protest on the building of the Capitol to demonstrate their frustration at the election process and to persuade their elected leaders to ignore the outcome.
“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and Congressmen and women,” Talking with the White House as a reference, Trump addressed the audience.
Showing up as the sitting president at what may be his last rally, Trump encouraged his followers “to fight.”
“We will never give up, we will never concede,” Trump said, delighting the crowd by calling Democratic victories the product of what he called “explosions of bullshit.”
“Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!” people shouted in reply.
For weeks, Trump has tried to thwart an orderly transition of power, supported by organizations like “Stop the Steal,” endorsing the day’s rally at https://stopthesteal.us and peddling misleading statements on Facebook and other social media about fraudulent voting.
Wednesday’s activities were the result of such efforts. Some of his followers, waving Trump flags about 50 minutes into the address, started moving towards Capitol Hill, where unparalleled chaos ensued.
Protesters smashed through police barricades, invaded the house, and breached the offices of the legislators. Vice President Mike Pence and congress members were rescued and the certification process was halted. One civilian was gunned down, police in Washington said. A Capitol official said that the building had been cleared as night fell, but outside of the property, dozens of demonstrators remained, namely militia members and far-right groups.
Trump posted around an hour after the Capitol was placed on lockdown that the demonstrators should “remain peaceful,” watching the violent scenes on cable news television from the Oval Office.
He was encouraged to say more by a Trump stalwart, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, and even some of the advisers who stay in the White House for his diminishing days in office, as speculation grew that he had incited a riot.