On January 6, a group of pro-Trump rioters turned a protest for the election results into a violent attack on the Capitol building, home of the United States’ senate and house of representatives. The event followed President Donald Trump’s claims regarding the validity of the election results, setting off the “Stop The Steal” movement within the alt-right wing.
January 6 was scheduled as the official vote count in Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Early that morning, President Trump addressed a crowd at a rally in Ellipse Park. During his speech, the President encouraged his supporters to take action against the democrats.
“Together, we will drain the Washington swamp, and we will clean up the corruption in our nation’s capital,” stated Trump. “We fight,” he continued. “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Shortly after 1 p.m., crowds began gathering by the steps of the Capitol building, and police involvement only caused the tension to increase. By 1:30 p.m., the government buildings housing representatives close to the Capitol began evacuations. A couple of minutes later, the first reports of rioters violating police lines began trickling in.
When protestors started storming the barricades and climbing over walls to force their way into the Capitol building, Vice-President Pence was ushered out by the Secret Service, with the Senate going into an emergency recess.
Rioters then stormed their way into the Capitol, breaking windows and doors, destroying furniture, using force against the Capitol police, ransacking offices, and more. The violent insurrection attempt lasted a few hours until the National Guard was activated, and the rioters were removed from the premises.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the continuation of the vote count that same night, as to not further delay the confirmation of Joe Biden’s victory.
“We always knew this responsibility would take us into the night. The night may still be long, but we are hopeful for a shorter agenda […] our purpose will be accomplished,” stated Pelosi in a press release.
Pelosi addressed the members of the congress via a Dear Colleague letter and further discussed how the joint session would continue amidst the chaos.
“We also knew that we would be a part of history in a positive way today, despite ill-founded objections to the Electoral College vote,” continued Pelosi. “We now will be part of history, as such a shameful picture of our country was put out to the world, instigated at the highest level.”
Just earlier that afternoon, following repeated statements and requests by President Trump to intervene in Congress’ vote count, Vice-President Mike Pence wrote a letter strongly supporting the Constitution’s mandates and following the democratic process.
Vice-President Pence refused to follow the president’s directions and object to the vote count. This was followed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for the importance of the vote certification. “Voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken—they’ve all spoken,” Senator McConnell stated in his speech to Congress. “If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.”
Congressman Paul Gosar and Senator Ted Cruz also objected to the election results from Arizona on behalf of 60 Republican lawmakers, citing uncertainty regarding the circumstances of the secured electoral votes. This led to a delay in the vote count, as a debate is granted for both parties if an objection is made.
The majority of Congressmen condemned the act of domestic terrorism. Republican leaders seemingly turned against their president, with Vice-President Pence disparaging the actions of the rioters.
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win,” stated Pence. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house. As we reconvene in this chamber, the world will once again witness the resilience and strength of our democracy.”
Many have come forward to directly link the attack to being influenced and incited by President Trump through his constant rhetoric and claims to supporters. Trump had earlier encouraged protestors to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol as a sign of defiance, while he himself went to the White House, away from the action.
In his first address after the attack, Trump did not condemn the violence but instead told his rioters, “go home. We love you; you’re very special.” He repeated his claims of the election being “fraudulent” and “stolen” multiple times in the video address, continuing the narrative leading to the attack.
There were a number of failed attempts to overthrow results by President Trump and his administration earlier, with more than 50 lawsuits being denied or withdrawn at various levels of the judicial system. The narrative of voter fraud and election rigging has been pushed by Trump and close allies for months now, rallying up his base.
The event pushed multiple companies, including Twitter, Google, and Facebook, to ban President Trump from their platforms. Twitter cited its reason being to prevent “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the attack on the Capitol and reaffirmed the need for upholding democracy. “What we witnessed was an assault on democracy by violent rioters, incited by the current president and other politicians,” said Trudeau in his January 8 media briefing.
Trudeau also discussed the responsibilities of political leaders and emphasized their obligation to ensure the safety of the people they govern.
“We will continue to be extremely vigilant, to remember that the choices we make as leaders, as politicians, have consequences,” stated Trudeau. “What we choose to say, what we choose not to say, how we choose to say it, does have an impact on Canadians and encourages people to do some things, discourages them to do others.”
The Canadian Prime Minister went on to discuss the gravity of the events that took place at the U.S. Capitol.
“We need to be more responsible, all of us, in how we approach civil society and community engagement,” continued Trudeau. “And that’s something that I think we are all rededicated to after seeing what can happen in the United States and elsewhere.
Government officials across the globe condemn President Trump for inciting his supporters and encouraging their insurrection attempt. Many were in agreement with John O. Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who argued that the people responsible for the events on January 6 need to be held accountable and urged the President to resign.