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A pro-Trump mob storms the Capitol as Congress prepares to certify Biden’s victory.

7 mins read

New York Times
December 06, 2021

44 5As Democrats took control of the Senate on Wednesday, winning the two Georgia seats up for grabs, chaos erupted on Capitol Hill as supporters of President Trump clashed with the police and stormed the Capitol building, interrupting proceedings as Congress prepared to certify the results of the 2020 election.

The Capitol was put on lockdown and Vice President Mike Pence was rushed from the Senate chamber as the pro-Trump mob — some waving Confederate flags — overwhelmed the building’s security. The mayor of Washington, D.C., ordered a 6 p.m. curfew.

Hours after the chaos began, Mr. Trump issued a statement telling the mob to leave. “You have to go home now,” he said in a video recorded at the White House and posted to Twitter. “We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We don’t want anyone hurt.”

Still, the president ultimately offered encouragement to the mob, noting: “We love you. You’re very special,” and “I know how you feel.” Before his statement, he had only sent two tweets that asked protesters to remain “peaceful.”

Shortly before Mr. Trump’s statement, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. made brief remarks calling on Mr. Trump to demand an end to the incident, which Mr. Biden called an “unprecedented assault” on democracy.

The remarkable scene at the Capitol — only hours after Mr. Trump addressed a rally of his supporters and declared that “we will never concede” — came less than 24 hours after polls had closed in Georgia in two Senate runoffs that gave the Democrats the seats necessary to take control of the House, Senate and White House.

Democrats Sweep US Senate Runoff Election in Georgia

The Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat and the pastor at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, defeated Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican, to become the first Black senator in Georgia history and the first Black Democrat to be elected to the Senate in the South.

In the other contest, Jon Ossoff, the Democratic challenger, defeated David Perdue, the Republican whose Senate term ended on Sunday.

Earlier on Wednesday morning, before major networks called the race, Mr. Ossoff declared victory and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, proclaimed that his party would win the majority.

“It feels like a brand new day,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “For the first time in six years, Democrats will operate a majority in the United States Senate — and that will be very good for the American people.”

Mr. Perdue has not yet conceded the race but Gabriel Sterling, a top Georgia elections official, said late Wednesday morning that Mr. Ossoff would most likely win by a margin large enough to avoid a recount, which is 0.5 percent in Georgia.

With Democrats winning both races, Mr. Biden now has a stronger ability to enact his agenda. Democrats will hold 50 seats in the Senate and de facto control of the chamber, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaking vote and Senator Mitch McConnell relegated to minority leader.

Mr. McConnell, the Republican leader who had indulged Mr. Trump’s baseless accusations of election fraud for the last two months, publicly broke with him after losing one race in Georgia and falling behind in the other. In a floor speech before pro-Trump protesters breached the building, he called rejecting efforts to overturn the election the most important vote of his decades-long career and warned of sending democracy into a “death spiral.”

“We simply cannot declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids,” Mr. McConnell said. “The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken. They’ve all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our Republic forever.”

Not long after, Trump supporters put the proceedings on hold by making their way inside the building by force — including the Senate chamber itself. Inside the House chamber, photos showed law enforcement officers with guns drawn.

Even before the Georgia results were official, the Republican recrimination began about how the party not only lost the White House but was also at risk of ceding control of the Senate.

“It turns out telling voters the election is rigged is not a good way to turn out your voters,” said Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump.

Later, Mr. Romney, from a secure location after the breach, declared of the chaos at the Capitol, “This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection.”

The twin Georgia races drew record levels of campaign spending — roughly half a billion dollars in two months — and national attention, with Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden both campaigning in the state on Monday.

The results showed both Mr. Warnock and Mr. Ossoff carrying a larger share of the vote in county after county — particularly in majority-Black areas — than Mr. Biden did in November, when he became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since 1992.