WASHINGTON — A woman has died after being shot in the chest at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building during a violent clash with police, forcing a lockdown of the ceremony to confirm Joe Biden’s win in the November election.
Washington D.C. police were the first to confirm the woman’s death Wednesday afternoon.
At least one U.S. Capitol Police officer was injured during the melee.
As reports emerged that the woman had been shot, Trump tweeted: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
Biden spoke briefly from Wilmington, Delaware, about the scenes unfolding at the Capitol, condemning the “God-awful display,” as he called it, as acts of “insurrection.”
“Through war and strife, America’s endured much, and we will endure here and we will prevail again and we will prevail now,” Biden said. “The work of the moment and the work of the next four years must be the restoration of Democracy, of decency, honor, respect, the rule of law.”
Members of the press pool reported an armed standoff in the House gallery, seeing guns drawn and protesters attempting to get inside. Press are being asked not to disclose a secondary location they have been moved to.
Swat teams have been deployed to quash the tumult, which broke out amid a tense ceremony in the House and Senate where lawmakers allied with the president lodged their objections to Biden’s victory.
As protestors stormed the Capitol steps and entrance, members of Congress could be heard shouting to Capitol Police to lock doors and leading lawmakers away from the House floor.
Shortly after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was confirmed safe, a photo surfaced from within the Senate chamber of a Trump supporter sitting in the chair of the Senate president. The president pro tempore of the Senate is Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley. Later still, one unmasked man was photographed with his feet on the California Democrat’s desk.
Explosive devices were found at the offices of both the Republican and Democratic National Committees, following building evacuations.
The device found at the RNC office was a pipe bomb, officials have reported. It is yet unclear what type of explosive was found at the DNC. Both buildings are near to the U.S. Capitol where, as Wednesday afternoon turned to night, a CSPAN broadcast captured protesters shouting such chants as “U.S.A.,” “Freedom,” “Get out of here!” and “F**k ANTIFA!”
U.S. Capitol Police regained control of the Senate side just after 3 p.m., as tear gas was dispersed outside the House chamber doors in the Capitol Rotunda.
Statuary Hall, a section of the Capitol that bridges the House and Senate, was slowly cleared out after an intense half hour.
Both Pelosi and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam have requested that the National Guard be sent to secure the building and remove the protesters. President Trump has also called for the National Guard, according to White House pool reports.
Representative Al Green, who was one of the first to call for Trump’s impeachment, called on Trump to “stop this madness that YOU incited,” in a statement on Twitter. (Emphasis in original.)
“The Constitution intended a peaceful transfer of power. This is seditious. Only a dictator or would-be dictator would encourage this. Which are you?” Green said.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, a Massachusetts Democrat, called for Trump’s immediate impeachment on Twitter, as soon as the body reconvened. Representative Ilhan Omar, a Michigan Democrat, also said she would begin drafting articles of impeachment as the sun set on the defiled Capitol.
Green — who leads Texas Democrats’ delegation in the House — wrote while sheltering in place at the Capitol that while he hadn’t reviewed the articles, the president’s behavior was impeachable.
“While I will make a decision upon reviewing the finalized text of the articles, I have consistently held that Donald J. Trump is unfit to be president and has engaged in impeachable behavior,” he said.
GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy appears to be safe, tweeting his gratitude to Capitol Police who scrambled to shut down the president’s supporters.
“Protesters have a Constitutionally protected right to be heard, but I urge them to remain peaceful,” the California Republican wrote.
A feed typically broadcasting floor activities in both the House and Senate was also cut. As damages unfolds, it is unclear if lawmakers will return to session immediately, or whether they resume the proceedings at an alternate location.
Mayor Muriel Bowser instituted a curfew in the district, urging residents to return to their homes by 6 p.m.
Early Wednesday morning before the lockdown, throngs of Trump devotees donning the campaign’s iconic red caps and Trump-branded ephemera moved in large groups through downtown Washington. Unmasked, despite the mounting devastation of the novel coronavirus, they hoisted yellow Gadsden flags heralding “Don’t Tread on Me” or dark blue banners bearing Trump’s name.
Protesters breached the building by ramming a portion of a U.S. Capitol door, which shattered glass and gained them entry to where lawmakers were debating.
Representative Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, said on Twitter as the chaos unfolded: “Violent Trump supporters have stormed the Capitol. We’re on lockdown right now in the Chamber. Blood will be on the hands of those perpetrating the big lie that Trump won.”
Before the Senate called a temporary recess to its debate, objections were just getting underway.
“We’re debating a step that has never been taken in American history: Whether Congress should overrule the voters and overturn a presidential election,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said from the well of the Senate floor, at times visibly emotional.
As he gave his stamp of approval on the impending peaceful transition of power from Trump to Biden on Jan. 20, McConnell called his vote during Wednesday’s session “the most important vote I’ve ever cast” over his 36 years serving in the Senate.
There was no confirmation that McConnell had been safely sheltered in place. Protesters used what appeared to a small cart to scaffold the Capitol’s facade, adjacent to what appeared to be the Senate majority leader’s office, to bang on the windows of the room.
As protesters moved unrestricted around the Capitol for the second consecutive hour, Trump posted a video to his Twitter feed in which he sandwiched encouragement for the protesters to “go home” between a proclamation of love for them and false claims about the election.
“You have to go home now, we have to peaceful,” Trump said. “We have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt, it’s a very tough period of time.”
Reports of a police officer being shot during the melee began circulating not long before Trump’s post.
“This was a fraudulent election. We love you, you’re very special. You see what happens. You see the way others are treated who are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go in peace,” Trump said.
Trump, meanwhile, after news of the woman’s death was less than a half-hour old, was still divisive in a tweet that was deleted by Twitter for violation of policy.
“This is how disputes are resolved in banana republics,” former President George W. Bush said in a statement.
California Governor Gavin Newsom canceled his COVID-19 update Wednesday “out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of Governor’s Office staff” and issued the following statement in response to the events transpiring at the U.S. Capitol:
“Peaceful protest is an important mechanism of our democracy but what we are witnessing in our nation’s Capitol building is reprehensible and an outright assault to our democracy and democratic institutions.
“The people of California have spoken, and our congressional delegation should never have to fear for their lives to represent Californians. We are concerned for the safety of California’s congressional delegation and U.S. Capitol staff, and are reaching out to offer support in every way possible. President Trump must call for an end to this escalating situation, acknowledge the will of the people to bring President-Elect Biden to the White House, and move immediately to a peaceful transition of power.”
This story is developing…
— By Brandi Buchman and Jack Rodgers, CNS