The nation’s lawmakers took to their electoral duties late Wednesday amid broken glass and smashed doors in the U.S. Capitol following an historic day of havoc wrought by pro-Trump rioters who breached the building in hopes of thwarting President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Vice President Mike Pence affirmed Biden’s win early Thursday.
Thousands of rioters had gathered at the National Mall to protest the election results. At a campaign-style rally about an hour before the mob broke through police lines at the Capitol, Trump had urged them to go to the building.
D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said the chaotic day included four fatalities: a woman who was shot by the U.S. Capitol Police, as well as three others — two men and one woman — who died in “separate medical emergencies.” Police had made “in excess of 52 arrests,” including 26 on U.S. Capitol grounds, he said.
At least 14 Metropolitan Police Department Officers were injured during the demonstrations, Contee said. Two pipe bombs — one from the DNC and one from the RNC — were also recovered by police, he said.
By 11 p.m., the once-crowded streets were almost entirely deserted except for roving police patrols and a handful of journalists leaving the area. About 20 law enforcement officers were guarding a barricade along Pennsylvania Avenue, near the reflecting pool in front of the U.S. Capitol. Little sign remained of what were massive crowds, save for overflowing trash cans and the occasional discarded Trump flag.
The FBI started an investigation, seeking the public’s help to identify unlawful individuals. The agency’s Washington field office launched an online form for “information related to violent activity at the U.S Capitol Building.”
“Our goal is to preserve the public’s constitutional right to protest by protecting everyone from violence and other criminal activity,” the FBI said.
Also Wednesday night, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a 15-day extension of the public emergency she declared earlier in the day “so that we can continue to ensure peace and security through the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.”
She added, “Today may be a dark day for our democracy, but there is hope and change coming.”
After both the House and Senate voted to rejected an objection to Arizona’s 11 Electoral College votes for Biden, lawmakers will return to a joint session of Congress and continue counting the Electoral College votes in alphabetical order by state.
Lawmakers in both chambers took turns offering somber words Wednesday night reflecting on the day’s maelstrom and urging members to certify the presidential electoral votes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress had faced a “failed insurrection.”