People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Capitol siege by pro-Trump mob forces questions, ousters

Capitol siege by pro-Trump mob forces questions, ousters

WASHINGTON — The violent siege of the Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters forced painful new questions across government Thursday — about his fitness to remain in office for two more weeks, the ability of the police to secure the complex and the future of the Republican Party in a post-Trump era.

In the immediate aftermath, the attack on the world’s iconic dome of democracy reinforced lawmakers’ resolve to stay up all night to finish counting the Electoral College vote confirming that Democrat Joe Biden won the presidential election.

But the rampage that shocked the world and left the country on edge forced the resignations of at least two top security officials at the Capitol over the failure to stop the breach. It led lawmakers to demand a review of operations and an FBI briefing over what they called a “terrorist attack.” And it is prompting a broader reckoning over Trump’s tenure in office and what comes next for a torn nation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said any remaining day with the president in power could be “a horror show for America.” Likewise, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the attack on the Capitol was “an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president,” and Trump must not stay in office “one day” longer.

Pelosi and Schumer called for invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to force Trump from office before Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20. Schumer said he and Pelosi tried to call Vice-President Mike Pence early Thursday to discuss that option but were unable to connect with him.

At least one Republican lawmaker joined the effort. The procedure allows for the vice-president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare the president unfit for office. The vice-president then becomes acting president.

Pelosi said if the president’s Cabinet does not swiftly act, the House may proceed to impeach Trump.

Meanwhile, other Republicans who echoed Trump’s false claims of a fraudulent election, including rising stars and some party leaders, faced angry, unsettled peers — but also those cheering them on.

With tensions high, the Capitol shuttered and lawmakers not scheduled to return until the inauguration, an uneasy feeling of stalemate settled over a main seat of national power as Trump remained holed up at the White House.

The social media giant Facebook banned the president from its platform and Instagram for the duration of Trump’s final days in office, if not indefinitely, citing his intent to stoke unrest. Twitter had silenced him the day before.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said “the shocking events of the last 24 hours” make it clear Trump “intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power.”

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, under pressure from Schumer, Pelosi and other congressional leaders, was forced to resign. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for and received the resignation of the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate, Michael Stenger, effective immediately. The Sergeant at Arms of the House was also expected to be removed.

Sund had defended his department’s response to the storming of the Capitol, saying officers had “acted valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions.”

In his first public comment on the mayhem, Sund said in a statement earlier Thursday that rioters attacked Capitol police and other law enforcement officers with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants and “took up other weapons against our officers.”

It was “unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.,” said Sund, a former city police officer.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser called the police response “a failure.”

Lawmakers from both parties pledged to investigate and questioned whether a lack of preparedness allowed a mob to occupy and vandalize the building. The Pentagon and Justice Department had been rebuffed when they offered assistance.

Black lawmakers, in particular, noted the way the mostly white Trump supporters were treated.

Urged on by Trump during a rally near the White House earlier Wednesday to head to Capitol Hill, protesters swiftly broke through police barriers, smashed windows and paraded through the halls, sending lawmakers into hiding.

The protesters ransacked the place, taking over the House area and Senate chamber and waving Trump, American and Confederate flags. Outside, they scaled the walls and balconies.

Newly elected Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said if “we, as Black people did the same things that happened … the reaction would have been different, we would have been laid out on the ground.”

One protester, a white woman, was shot to death by Capitol Police, and there were dozens of arrests. Three other people died after “medical emergencies” related to the breach.

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a former police chief, said it was “painfully obvious” that Capitol police “were not prepared.”

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who is the chairman of a subcommittee that oversees the Capitol police budget, announced the new review and suggested there would be leadership changes on the force.

“This is an embarrassment,” he said.

After the chaos, lawmakers resolved to return from shelter to show the country, and the world, of the nation’s enduring commitment to uphold the will of the voters and the peaceful transfer of power.

Vice-President Mike Pence, presiding over the joint session, announced the tally, 306-232, that confirmed Biden as the presidential election winner before dawn Thursday.

Trump, who had repeatedly refused to concede the election, said in a statement immediately after the vote that there will be an “orderly transition” on Inauguration Day.

Several lawmakers suggested that Trump be prosecuted for a crime, impeached for a second time or even removed under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which seemed unlikely two weeks from when his term expires. The House impeached Trump in 2019 and the Senate acquitted him in 2020.

While Democrats led the charge to invoke the 25th Amendment, similar conversations among Republicans within the administration had made their way to Capitol Hill.

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois publicly called on Trump’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the president from office.

“The president caused this,” Kinzinger said in a video posted to Twitter. “The president is unwell.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., did not join that effort but laid blame at the president’s feet. Trump’s actions were the “problem” leading to the Capitol violence, he said.

Biden aide Andrew Bates said in a statement that the president-elect is focused on the transition “and will leave it to Vice-President Pence, the Cabinet and the Congress to act as they see fit.”

The Republicans who led the effort to challenge the Electoral College tally for Biden exposed the extent of the divisions within the party, and the nation, after four years of Trump’s presidency.

Those two GOP senators, Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, faced angry peers in the Senate.

Cruz defended his objection to the election results as “the right thing to do” as he tried unsuccessfully to have Congress launch an investigation.

In the House, Republican leaders Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana joined in the failed effort to overturn Biden’s win by objecting to the Electoral College results.

Despite Trump’s repeated claims of voter fraud, election officials and his own former attorney general have said there were no problems on a scale that would change the outcome. All the states have certified their results as fair and accurate, by Republican and Democratic officials alike.

___

Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Zeke Miller, Alan Fram, Padmananda Rama and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.

Lisa Mascaro And Matthew Daly, The Associated Press

Donald Trump

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

President Donald Trump speaks near a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Alamo, Texas. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor via AP)
Trump bids farewell to Washington, hints of comeback

‘We will be back in some form’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday, January 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada in touch with Biden admin about disputed oil pipeline

Premier Jason Kenney says ‘rescinding the Keystone XL border crossing permit would damage the Canada-US bilateral relationship’

The wreckage of a fatal crash involing the Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus outside Tisdale, Sask., is seen on Saturday, April, 7, 2018. A number of Broncos parents are angry there has been little action on seatbelts on buses since the crash that killed 16 people and injured 13. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty

President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden are joined by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff during a COVID-19 memorial event at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
All eyes on the United States as Canadians tune in to Joe Biden’s inauguration

Thousands of National Guard troops deployed ahead of the event

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem takes part in a news conference at the Bank of Canada in Ottawa on December 15, 2020. Canada’s central bank will update its economic forecast for the country that will offer a window when it expects a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to take hold. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Bank of Canada to update economic outlook with first rate announcement of 2021

0.25 per cent policy rate expected to be maintained

FIL - In this Nov. 7, 2020, file photo Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks in Wilmington, Del. Harris will make history Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, when she becomes the nation’s first Black, South Asian and female vice president. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Vice-President Harris: A new chapter opens in US politics

Harris moves into the vice presidency just four years after arriving in Washington as a California senator

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ian Cole, front, picks up the puck as St. Louis Blues center Brayden Schenn defends durg the third period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
NHL pulls microchipped ‘tracking’ pucks 6 days into season

The first 44 games were played with the ‘tracking’ pucks

Canadian Premier League commissioner David Clanachan is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Premier League-Darren Goldstein
CPL targets season kickoff on Victoria Day Weekend, providing authorities agree

The hope is to have each of the eight teams play a normal 28-game season

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows director/writer/producer John Lee Hancock, center, and Jared Leto on the set of “The Little Things.” (Nicola Goode/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)
Washington, Malek and Leto face off in ‘The Little Things’

‘The Little Things’ opens in theatres and on HBO Max on Jan. 29

FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, speaks with reporters in New York after pleading not guilty to charges that he ripped off donors to an online fundraising scheme to build a southern border wall. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)
Trump pardons ex-strategist Steve Bannon, dozens of others

Last-minute clemency announced after midnight on Wednesday

Winnipeg Jets left wing Nikolaj Ehlers (27) scores the game-winning goal past Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) during overtime in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Ehlers scores overtime winner as Winnipeg Jets rally for 4-3 win over Ottawa Senators

Ehlers scores overtime winner as Winnipeg Jets rally for 4-3 win over Ottawa Senators

Canadian women's soccer team member Rhian Wilkinson is seen during a training session in Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 21, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canada Soccer coach Rhian Wilkinson joins England women’s coaching staff

Former Canada Soccer coach Rhian Wilkinson joins England women’s coaching staff

Canadian Premier League commissioner David Clanachan is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Premier League-Darren Goldstein **MANDATORY CREDIT**
CPL targets season kickoff on Victoria Day Weekend, providing authorities agree

CPL targets season kickoff on Victoria Day Weekend, providing authorities agree

Most Read