US Capitol riots: Everything we know about what happened when Trump's supporters stormed Washington

A mob of Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, in a bid to overthrow November’s presidential election result.

Dozens of protesters broke into the building and roamed the corridors as tens of thousands gathered outside in support of the president’s false claims of election fraud.

Congressmen who had gathered to certify the election results were forced to flee under escort as law enforcement lost control of the situation.

Five people have died and at least 60 people have been arrested.

Despite these events, however, the US Congress has confirmed Joe Biden will become the next President of the United States of America, after they certified 270 Electoral College votes on January 7.

After Congress approved Vermont’s votes, Mr Biden has reached the number of Electoral College votes needed to become the President. He has, therefore, defeated Donald Trump by 306-232.

Following the fatal events on Capitol Hill, Mr Trump committed to a peaceful transition of power for the first time

In a short video posted on Twitter (below), Mr Trump said being president had been “the honour of my lifetime” and insisted that in spreading baseless claims of election fraud he had merely been “fighting to defend American democracy”. He also committed to a “smooth transition of power”.

Joe Biden condemned the events at Capitol Hill during a speech on January 7, calling them “one of the darkest days in the history of our nation” and “an assault on the rule of law”.

He added: “Don’t you dare call them protesters; they were a riotous mob, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists. It’s that basic, it’s that simple.”

Mr Trump is set to leave on January 20 when Mr Biden is inaugurated and tweeted that he planned to skip Mr Biden’s inauguration, becoming the first president in more than 150 years – and just the fourth in US history – to do so.

Mr Trump has since been permanently suspended from Twitter “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”, the social media firm said.

It was a significant move against the man who joined the site in 2009 and built his run to the presidency on the back of his online popularity, which led to him finishing his time on Twitter with almost 89 million followers.

In a statement on Twitter’s blog on January 8, it said it had decided to take action against Mr Trump’s account after a review of two of the President’s tweets posted on the same day found they had violated its glorification of violence policy.

Here’s everything else we know.

What happened at the US Capitol?

Sent on their way by Mr Trump to march up Capitol Hill from the White House, the president’s vocal army of supporters descended on the Capitol Building.

They clashed with officers. Then some stormed the building. Congressmen were scrambled out of the chambers as reports of armed stand-offs emerged.

The first protesters reached the inside of the building around 2pm, shortly after both the Senate and the House began proceedings to certify the election results. 

In the House chamber, security officers pulled their guns to barricade the door. At least one pro-Trump protester made it into the Senate chamber, sitting with hand aloft in victory.

Photographs soon emerged of protesters having breached the floor. One showed a man in a bobble hat sitting in Mr Pence’s chair, arm aloft in victory.

As rioters shouted and waved Trump and American flags, people inside the building were directed to duck under their seats for cover and put on gas masks after tear gas was used in the Capitol Rotunda.

Read more: Washington stormed: How dark day for American democracy unfolded

Why are Trump supporters protesting?

Thousands of the president’s faithful had gathered the night before, arriving after Mr Trump demanded support for his ongoing claim that he, not Mr Biden, was the real election victor.

It was the day when Congress was to perform its largely ceremonial duty of signing off the results ahead of the inauguration on January 20, when Mr Biden becomes president.

Read more: Who is Jake Angeli, the ‘QAnon shaman’ from Arizona at the heart of the Capitol riots?

Who died at the US Capitol?

A US Air Force veteran has been identified as the protester killed in the Capitol building.

Ashli Babbit, who was married and lived near San Diego, California, was fatally shot in the chaos, her husband told US news channel KUSI. She appeared to have been shot in the neck, before a mob tried to attend to her. It was unclear who fired the shot.

Ms Babbit, a Trump supporter, served for 14 years in the service and had been involved in four tours of duty, the channel reported.

Ashli Babbit was shot in the Capitol riots

Three other people died from “medical emergencies”, officials said.

Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick died of injuries suffered during the riot, the force said.

“Officer Sicknick was responding to the riots … and was injured while physically engaging with protesters,” police said.

He succumbed after being taken to hospital following his collapse upon returning to his divisional office.

Read more: Can Donald Trump be removed from office?

How have the authorities responded?

A 6pm citywide curfew was announced as evening approached. The events were widely described as a dark day for American democracy.

The entire District of Columbia National Guard, made up of 1,100 troops, was ordered into the city at the request of Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Dozens of people have been arrested.

Robert Contee, DC’s Chief of Police, said firearms were recovered by officers, including long guns and hand guns.

Two pipe bombs were found near the Democrat and Republican party headquarters, according to reports.

Ms Bowser has also extended the Emergency Declaration until January 21, the day after Mr Biden’s inauguration ceremony. 

This gives city officials the power to order people off the street if a curfew is issued, reduce the hours of operation for businesses across the city, and expend funds as needed to protect public safety.

The mayor shared: “President Trump continues to fan rage and violence by contending that the Presidential election was invalid. Some persons can be expected to continue their violent protests through the inauguration.”

Richard 'Bigo' Barnett got into the office of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House

What has Donald Trump said?

Mr Trump had addressed the crowds hours before they marched on the Capitol, telling them to “stop the steal” and doubling down on his false claims of election victory.

As the violence broke out, Mr Trump later called for calm, tweeting: “I am asking for everyone at the US Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence!”

Mr Trump later released a video calling his supporters to go home. He said: “You have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt.”

But moments later, the president doubled down on his baseless claims of election fraud. Even as the Capitol was being assaulted, Mr Trump continued to tweet false claims that the election had been stolen.

On the evening of January 7, Mr Trump acknowledged that a new US administration would take over on January 20 and condemned the mob that stormed the Capitol during a conciliatory new video address. 

In a message of unity delivered to the camera, the US president said his supporters who broke into the Capitol had “defiled the seat of American democracy”.

Mr Trump called for punishments for those who had broken the law and urged calm, saying that “tempers must be cooled and calm restored”.

He also promised to work towards the “smooth, orderly and seamless transfer of power” in what was his firmest drawing of a line under the election results to date.

Read more: From ad libs to autocue: anatomy of Donald Trump’s Capitol Hill speeches

What has Joe Biden said?

Mr Biden condemned the violence and called on protesters to fall back in a statement delivered to the cameras (see video below).

“Let me be very clear. The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect the true America [and] do not represent who we are,” the president-elect said. 

“What we’re seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now.

“I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.” 

Mike Pence issued a more forceful call for rioters to depart. “This attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he wrote on Twitter.

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said that “violence is intolerable” and that the actions of the rioters were unacceptable.

Read more: ​Joe Biden’s speech in full

How have social media platforms responded?

Mr Trump has since been permanently banned from Twitter and Facebook after growing calls for social media platforms to remove the president’s incendiary posts, or delete his accounts entirely.

Twitter said Mr Trump’s refusal to attend Mr Biden’s inauguration was being received by his supporters as “further confirmation that the election was not legitimate” and him disavowing his previous claim there would be an “orderly transition”.

It claimed one of his tweets may also “serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending”.

The use of the words “American Patriots” to describe some of his supporters was also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol, Twitter said.

It added: “Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.

“As such, our determination is that the two tweets … are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.”

Following the ban, Twitter deleted two tweets apparently issued by Mr Trump on the @POTUS account, and also suspended the @TeamTrump account after it spread a statement from the president.

Twitter permanently suspends @realDonaldTrump account.

The statement said: “After close review of recent tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them – specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter – we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.

“In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.

“However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things.

“We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.”

Facebook removed a short video on January 6 that Mr Trump had posted to his social media accounts.

Facebook’s vice president of integrity, Guy Rosen, said the action was taken “because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence”.

Later that day, the site blocked his ability to post new content. Then on January 7, it said he would remain blocked until his term in the White House concluded on January 20.

Mr Trump is planning to address his “deplatforming” by social media companies on Monday January 11, reportedly seeking ways to bring them to heel before leaving office.

It comes as apps including preferred conservative messaging site Parler were removed altogether by tech giants for allowing “threats of violence” after the storming of the US Capitol. 

Read more:  Trump fury after permanent ban by Twitter due to ‘risk of inciting violence’ ​

How Washington reacted

The House of Representatives has voted to impeach Donald Trump, making him the first president in US history to be impeached twice.

Ten Republicans joined Democrats in voting for impeachment over Mr Trump’s role riling up the mob.

The article, which charging him with “incitement of insurrection”, carried by 232 votes to 197.

Mr Trump will now face a trial in the Senate.

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Party leaders in the US House of Representatives and Senate respectively, demanded Mr Trump’s immediate removal amid outrage at his actions before the US Capitol was stormed by a mob of his supporters.

They publicly called on Mike Pence, the US vice president, to invoke the 25th Amendment, a mechanism that removes a president who is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”, but Mr Pence refused.

A wave of top officials quit the White House, turning their backs on Mr Trump.

A number of White House staff, including Sarah Matthews, the deputy press secretary, and Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s chief of staff, resigned effective immediately. It was also reported that Chris Liddell, the president’s deputy chief of staff, had quit.

Read more: Top Republicans turn on Trump after day of chaos

How the world reacted

Boris Johnson called on the US to restore the rule of law. “Disgraceful scenes in US Congress”, the British prime minister tweeted.

“The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power. ”

EU officials expressed shock at the “assault on US democracy”.

“To witness tonight’s scenes in Washington DC is a shock,” European Council president Charles Michel tweeted.

“In the eyes of the world, American democracy tonight appears under siege,” the European Union’s foreign policy supremo Josep Borrell said, in a separate tweet.

“This is an unseen assault on US democracy, its institutions and the rule of law. This is not America. The election results of 3 November must be fully respected,” Mr Borrell said, referring to the US presidential election that saw Mr Trump beaten by Joe Biden.

“The strength of US democracy will prevail over extremist individuals,” Mr Borrell said.

Speaking to Sky News, Kim Darroch, the UK’s former ambassador to the US, shared his belief that Mr Trump was not fit to be president, before suggesting No 10 “got too close” to the Trump presidency. 

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced she is “furious and saddened” by the violence seen in Washington DC, and said Mr Trump shares the blame for the unrest among his supporters. 

“I deeply regret that President Trump has not conceded his defeat, since November and again yesterday,” she said, before adding: “Doubts about the election outcome were stoked and created the atmosphere that made the events of last night possible.”

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, has labelled the US electoral system as “archaic”, before saying it does not meet democratic standards – blaming the media’s politicisation for the deep unrest in the American capital. 

Speaking to Russian news agencies, she shared: “The electoral system in the United States is archaic, it does not meet modern democratic standards, creating opportunities for numerous violations, and the American media have become an instrument of political struggle.” 

Furthermore, a senior Russian lawmaker said American democracy is “limping on both feet”. In a post on Facebook, Konstantin Kosachyov, the chair of the Russian upper house’s foreign affairs committee, continued: “The celebration of democracy has ended. It has, unfortunately, hit rock bottom, and I say this without a hint of gloating.

“America no longer charts the course and so has lost all right to set it. And, even more so, to impose it on others.”

However, Chinese officials have indeed gloated over the chaos seen in DC. The state-owned outlets mocked US politicians who had spoken out in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong storming the city’s legislative building in 2018: “@SpeakerPelosi once referred to the Hong Kong riots as a ‘beautiful sight to behold’ – it remains yet to be seen whether she will say the same about the recent developments in Capitol Hill,” read the Communist Party outlet, the Global Times, in their pinned tweet. 

Could we see any more violence before Joe Biden’s inauguration?

Possibly. The FBI has warned of co-ordinated armed protests planned by Trump’s supporters in the run-up to Mr Biden’s inauguration ceremony. 

Posts on several pro-Trump and far-right websites have planned a number of demonstrations and armed protests in multiple cities across the US on Jan 17, and a march in the capital on the inauguration day itself. 

Prior to the FBI’s warning on Dec 11, the National Guard received permission to deploy as many as 15,000 troops to Washington DC by Jan 16. Tourists are also banned from visiting the Washington Monument until Jan 24- four days after Biden is sworn in.

Read more: ‘The world is watching’: How leaders reacted

Source: US Capitol riots: Everything we know about what happened when Trump’s supporters stormed Washington

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