U.S. Capitol Riots

By: Nikita Vandrangi — Political Editor

On January 6, 2021 at 1:00 pm, a joint session of Congress convened to undergo the constitutionally obligated and typically ceremonial process of certifying the electoral college votes for the presidential election. 

President Donald Trump consistently promised his supporters Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the results of the election in their favor, which is not true. Shortly before the joint session, Vice President Pence stated he would abide by his constitutional duty and certify the existing votes. Several Republican senators and representatives had plans to raise objections to the electoral votes in the states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 

The first objection was for the state of Arizona, presented by Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar. The joint session broke with the Senate and the House of Representatives returning to their respective chambers to engage in a two hour debate regarding the objection and then subsequently voting to either affirm or reject.   

Simultaneously, President Trump held a “Save America” rally, that included speakers such as the president’s son Donald Trump, Jr., the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Guiliani, and Congressman Mo Brooks. At the rally, President Trump continued to feed his supporters lies about the election. Rudy Guiliani called for “trial by combat” and Congressman Brooks said, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” 

President Trump encouraged the crowd to march down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the U.S. Capitol building. The crowd approached the building and soon began to break through the security barriers advancing farther towards the Capitol and fighting with the police. At around 2:00pm, the crowd entered the building into the National Statuary Hall and moments later began breaking windows and doors to move closer to the Senate chambers. 

Vice President Pence was escorted out of the Senate chambers and the rest of the senators were evacuated at around 2:30pm. In the House chambers, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was escorted out, with the House in a temporary recess. The members were soon told to wear gas masks. Shots were fired into the building, with an armed standoff at the doors of the House chambers. 

The Trump supporters bore Confederate and Nazi paraphernalia. Many of them were armed and a car with a trunk full of molotov cocktails was found at the scene. Several pipe bombs were found near and around the headquarters buildings of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Republican National Committee (RNC).  

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a 6:00pm curfew for that night and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam deployed the Virginia National Guard for assistance. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan also sent in requests to the Pentagon to authorize the Maryland National Guard, but was denied on multiple instances. The DC National Guard arrived at the scene through the orders of Vice President Pence because President Trump was initially resistant. 

Five people died as a result of the riots, including a US Capitol Police Officer, Brian D. Sicknick.  

After the insurrection had been quelled, Congress reconvened at 8:00pm to resume the joint session. The objection to the Arizona electoral votes was rejected by a 93-6 vote in the Senate and a 303-121 vote in the House. Due to the nature of the riots, several senators backed out of their support for objections in the states of Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and Pennsylvania Representative Scott Perry raised an objection to the certification of votes in Pennsylvania, triggering another two hour debate within each chamber. 

The Senator rejected this objection with a 92-7 vote and the House rejected the objection with a 282-138 vote. Congress certified the electoral college votes of the presidential election at 3:41am on January 7, 2021, affirming President-elect Biden’s 306 votes and President Trump’s 232 votes. 

Democratic senators and representatives have called for the cabinet to invoke the 25th amendment as well as a second impeachment of the president. Vice President Pence rejected the idea of the 25th amendment. Both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are considering moving forward with articles of impeachment. Assistant Speaker of the House, Katherine Clark, stated the House could present the articles as early as Monday. Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois are two Republican officials who have come forward in support of invoking the 25th amendment or impeachment. 

image from cnn.com

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