Donald Trump’s supporters stormed a session of Congress held Wednesday to certify Joe Biden’s election win, triggering unprecedented chaos and violence at the heart of American democracy and accusations the president was attempting a coup.
Hours after an extraordinary rally by Trump seeking to overturn the election, a flag-waving mob broke down barricades outside the Capitol and swarmed inside, rampaging through offices and onto the usually solemn legislative floors.
At least one person was shot and wounded and others injured inside the Capitol, an emergency responder said, with lawmakers evacuated and handed gas masks as police fired tear gas.
One Trump supporter in jeans and a baseball cap was pictured propping a leg up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk, where a threatening note had been left, as throngs of others climbed onto risers set up for Biden’s inauguration on January 20, holding a banner that read: “We the people will bring DC to its knees/We have the power.”
Biden called the violence an “insurrection” and demanded that Trump immediately go on national television to urge his supporters to lift the siege of the Capitol.
“Our democracy’s under unprecedented assault,” Biden said in his home state of Delaware.
“The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America,” he added.
“This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now.”
Trump soon afterward released a video on Twitter in which he called on his supporters to leave but stood by his unfounded claims of election fraud.
“We have to have peace. So go home. We love you — you’re very special,” he said.
Sonya Fitzgerald, a 43-year-old Trump supporter from Florida, said on the Capitol steps: “You’ll hear about this in the history books.”