Under heavy guard, Congress back to work after Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol


WASHINGTON: Hundreds of President Donald
Trump‘s
supporters stormed the
U.
S.
Capitol on Wednesday in a stunning bid
to overturn his election defeat. But
after hours of chaos in which police battled
to regain control, lawmakers returned
to
Congress
to begin certifying Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

In the gravest assault on the symbol of American democracy in more than 200 years, rioters forced their way past metal security barricades, broke windows and scaled walls
to fight their way into the
Capitol, where they roamed the hallways and scuffled with police officers.

Police said four people died – one from gunshot wounds and three from medical emergencies – during the chaos.

Some besieged the House of Representatives chamber while lawmakers were inside, banging on its doors and forcing suspension of the certification debate. Security officers piled furniture against the chamber’s door and drew their pistols before helping lawmakers and others escape.

By Wednesday night, both houses of
Congress resumed their debate on the certification of Biden’s Electoral College win, and it quickly became clear that objections from pro-
Trump Republican lawmakers
to Biden’s victory in battleground states would be rejected overwhelmingly, including by most Republicans.


To those who wreaked havoc in our
Capitol today – you did not win,” Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the session, said as it resumed. “Let’s get
back
to
work,” he said, drawing applause.

Police struggled for more than three hours
after the invasion
to clear the
Capitol of
Trump
supporters before declaring the building secure shortly
after 5:30 p.m. (2230 GMT).

One woman died
after being shot during the mayhem, Washington police said, although the circumstances were unclear. Three people died due
to medical emergencies, said Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert J. Contee.

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The assault on the
Capitol was the culmination of months of divisive and escalating rhetoric around the Nov. 3 election, with
Trump repeatedly making false claims that the vote was rigged and urging his
supporters
to help him overturn his loss.

The chaotic scenes unfolded
after
Trump – who before the election refused
to commit
to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost – addressed thousands of
supporters near the White House and told them
to march on the
Capitol
to express their anger at the voting process.

He told his
supporters
to pressure their elected officials
to reject the results, urging them ”
to fight.”

Trump came
under intensive fire from some prominent Republicans in
Congress, who put the blame for the day’s violence squarely on his shoulders.

“There is no question that the President formed the mob, the President incited the mob, the President addressed the mob. He lit the flame,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney said on Twitter.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a leading conservative from Arkansas, called on
Trump
to accept his election loss and “quit misleading the American people and repudiate mob violence.”

A source familiar with the situation said there have been discussions among some Cabinet members and
Trump allies about invoking the 25th Amendment, which would allow a majority of the Cabinet
to declare
Trump unable
to perform his duties and remove him. A second source familiar with the effort doubted it would go anywhere with
Trump having just two more weeks in office.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who had remained silent while
Trump has sought
to overturn the election result, called the invasion a “failed insurrection” and promised that “we will not bow
to lawlessness or intimidation.”

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“We are
back in our posts. We will discharge our duty
under the Constitution, and for our nation. And we are going
to do it tonight,” he said.

‘RECKLESS BEHAVIOR’

The shock of the assault on the
Capitol seemed
to soften the resolve of some Republicans who had supported
Trump‘s efforts
to convince Americans of his baseless claims of fraud.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of
Trump’s staunchest allies in
Congress, rejected an effort by his fellow Republicans
to object
to election results in hopes of setting up a commission
to investigate
Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud.

“All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough,” Graham said on the floor of the Senate. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and the vice president of the United States on Jan. 20.”

The Senate rejected by a 93-6 vote Republican objections
to the certification of Biden’s victory in the battleground state of Arizona, ensuring their defeat. The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, also rejected the move, voting 303-121 against it.

After the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said both chambers of
Congress would resume consideration of the Electoral College results.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a citywide curfew starting at 6 p.m. (2300 GMT). National
Guard troops, FBI agents and
U.
S. Secret Service were deployed
to help overwhelmed
Capitol police.
Guard troops and police pushed protesters away from the
Capitol
after the curfew took effect.

It was the most damaging attack on the iconic building since the British army burned it in 1814, according
to the
U.
S.
Capitol Historical Society.

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Biden, a Democrat who defeated the Republican president in the November election and is due
to take office on Jan. 20, said the activity of the protesters “borders on sedition.”


TRUMP REPEATS FALSE CLAIMS


In a video posted
to Twitter while the rioters roamed the
Capitol,
Trump repeated his false claims about election fraud but urged the protesters
to leave.

“You have
to go home now, we have
to have peace,” he said, adding: “We love you. You’re very special.”

Twitter Inc later restricted users from retweeting
Trump‘s video, and Facebook Inc took it down entirely, citing the risk of violence. Twitter said later it had locked the account of
Trump for 12 hours over “repeated and severe violations” of the social media platform’s “civic integrity” rules and threatened permanent suspension.

Election officials of both parties and independent observers have said there was no significant fraud in the Nov. 3 contest, in which Biden won 7 million more votes than
Trump.

Weeks have passed since the states completed certifying that Biden won in the Electoral College, which decides presidential elections, by a 306-232 vote.
Trump‘s challenges
to Biden’s victory have been rejected by courts across the country.

Trump had pressed Pence
to throw out election results in states the president narrowly lost, although Pence has no authority
to do so. Pence said in a statement he could not accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally.

The mayhem stunned world leaders. ”
Trump and his
supporters must accept the decision of American voters at last and stop trampling on democracy,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.





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