Trumpism assaults the Capitol
Mob of Trump supporters enters Congress to prevent Joe Biden's confirmation
WashingtonThe world's leading power, the self-proclaimed beacon of democracy, lived through hours of uncertainty on Wednesday after tens of thousands of Donald Trump supporters surrounded and assaulted the grounds of the Washington Congress. At least dozens managed to enter the building by breaking windows and forcing doors. Unopposed at first by Capitol security, they strolled through the halls, entered congressional offices - where several had their photographs taken -, and went in the Senate and the House of Representatives, which had been vacated minutes earlier. Approximately three hours after the assault began, police reinforcements helped regain control of the building and its surroundings. Earlier, Vice President Mike Pence was evacuated and the congressmen had to seek shelter.
Shots were heard inside the Capitol and the congressmen were asked to wear masks to protect themselves from the tear gas used against the assailants by the police. At least one woman has died and the police have confirmed three more deaths in unexplained circumstances.
In addition, police defused a homemade explosive device at the Republican Party's national headquarters in Washington. The governors of the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia sent National Guard troops. The mayor of Washington, Muriel Bowser, decreed a curfew starting at 6 p.m., midnight in Catalonia.
Congressional police were unable to stop the assault by a crowd of Trump supporters who had previously encouraged them at a rally to march into the building to protest for what the president insists (without any proof) is an election fraud that will prevent him from serving four more years in the White House. At that time, the joint session of the two chambers was being held on Capitol Hill, where the congressmen had to read the results of the Electoral College to confirm the Democratic victory. It was the last step, then, before Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20. Historically, this session is usually resolved in minutes, but this year it was scheduled to take hours after several Republican congressmen and senators coordinated to object to some of the results. A theatrical political exercise destined to fail and please Donald Trump and his base, whom the president led to believe he could win the election.
"It borders on sedition"
As the country watched in awe the images of the assault on Congress, President-elect Joe Biden appeared from Wilmington. In his message, after which he admitted no questions, he called the events an "unprecedented assault". Without going as far as to calling it a coup, Biden said the attack on the Capitol "borders on sedition". "Raiding the Capitol, smashing windows, occupying offices and threatening the safety of elected officials is not protest, it is insurrection". He also pointed directly at Donald Trump, emphasizing that "the words of a president count". He asked him to address the nation on television to "fulfill his oath, defend the Constitution and call for an end to this siege".
Far from living up to the moment, Donald Trump recorded a short video from the White House grounds that he shared on social networks. The Republican asked the protesters to go home. His first words were, however, to insist on the falsehood that the election he lost to Joe Biden had been fraudulent. "We can't play into the hands of these people", Trump himself said, who had earlier addressed his base to make them believe that their fate depended on what happened in Congress. "We love you", the president said to the storm troopers. His personal lawyer and former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, referred to them as "patriots".
Keeping his distance, Vice President Mike Pence issued a message calling for an end to the violence. "Peaceful protest is the right of all Americans but this attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law". Trump had put Pence at the center of the target by trying to pressure him into preventing Congressional approval of the election results. The Constitution gives the vice president a purely ceremonial role, and Pence himself made this known in a letter minutes before the session began. With Congress under assault, Trump's first tweet was to attack his vice president, whom he said "has not been brave enough to do what he would have to do to protect our country and our Constitution". The same Constitution that Donald Trump and his angry mob attacked yesterday.
Meanwhile, the European Union was following the events with concern and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on US President Donald Trump on Twitter to "finally accept the decision of American voters and stop treading on democracy".