Congress was forced to suspend the final certification of the presidential election on Wednesday afternoon as pro-Trump protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol and engaged in violent clashes with police around and inside the building.
The House and Senate were separately debating an objection raised by some Republican lawmakers to the election results in Arizona when, shortly after 2 p.m., both chambers unexpectedly recessed. Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the Senate debate, was hustled out of the chamber by security.
Multiple media reports indicate that the U.S. Capitol complex is on full lockdown after protesters breached security barriers and entered the building.
The scenes inside and around the Capitol are stunning and terrifying.
Police officers are holding them steps away from the Senate chamber, which is locked. Senators are inside. I see a few confederate flags. pic.twitter.com/YI7X7KmuUG
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 6, 2021
The Capitol is literally being broken into.
We're under siege. pic.twitter.com/HW5bxbyr0h
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) January 6, 2021
Several lawmakers and congressional staff tweeted that they were sheltering in place inside the Capitol and the various office buildings that are part of the wider Capitol complex. Some private residences in the nearby Capitol Hill neighborhood were reportedly evacuated by police as well.
For weeks, President Donald Trump has encouraged his supporters to gather in Washington today to challenge the final certification of last year's election, which he lost. Earlier on Wednesday, Trump spoke to a crowd of thousands gathered outside the White House and continued to stoke the anger about what he said was a "rigged" and "stolen" election.
It is truly an incredible scene: a sitting president who campaigned on a message of "law and order" calling for his supporters to riot because he lost reelection. Hopefully, it will end without any further escalation or violence. This is no way for a functioning democracy to operate.