A mob incited by President Trump overran the U.S. Capitol, delaying — but not stopping — the counting of electoral college votes validating President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
A Pro-Trump Mob Siege of the Capitol
Violent supporters of President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, shattering windows, ransacking offices and pounding on the barricaded doors of the House chamber while shaken lawmakers huddled inside. The mob’s goal: to disrupt a constitutional ceremony intended to validate the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden.
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The extraordinary breach of democratic order — blamed by both parties on the president’s incitement — forced members to flee the House and Senate floors under armed guard, delaying Congress’ constitutionally mandated count of electoral college votes.
Four people died — a woman from San Diego who was shot by U.S. Capitol Police and three others who, according to D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, died in “medical emergencies.” Several police officers were injured, as was a rioter who reportedly fell from a Capitol balcony.
The attack brought the congressional proceedings to a halt for hours, but early Thursday morning, Congress confirmed Biden as the winner of the presidential election. Soon after, a statement attributed to Trump said there “will be an orderly transition on January 20th.”
The Capitol has seen frequent protests and some previous acts of violence — including a bombing in 1915 and shooting in the House Gallery by four supporters of Puerto Rican independence in 1954 — but no riot comparable to Wednesday’s has ever taken place on its grounds.
“This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition, and it must end now,” Biden said during a brief speech in Wilmington, Del., about two hours after the attack on the Capitol began. Similar calls came from across the political spectrum.
In sharp contrast to June 1, when federal law enforcement officers used force against largely peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrators near the White House, the Capitol Police retreated in the face of the crowd, who could be seen using crowbars and other objects to break windows and gain entry into the Capitol building.
Rhetoric and Its Consequences
The violence on Wednesday came just after Trump encouraged supporters to march on the Capitol during a 70-minute address rehashing his false claims that Democrats stole the election — but it also followed four years of incendiary, divisive and dishonest rhetoric from Trump.
The president was in the White House watching the coverage as the mob converged on the Capitol, at one point tweeting his irritation with Vice President Mike Pence, who as the president of the Senate had gone to the Capitol to oversee the count, which is all the law and Constitution empower him to do. Pence defied Trump’s calls for him to try to unilaterally invalidate the election result.
Only after more than an hour of watching the escalating chaos did the administration dispatch the National Guard to the Capitol — and ultimately it was Pence, not Trump, who coordinated with the Pentagon, the vice president’s office confirmed. As former administration officials criticized Trump’s meek response to the violence by his supporters, the president tweeted to them to “go home” and, rather than condemning them, praised them. Eventually, Twitter and Facebook locked down his accounts.
In a sign of Trump’s growing isolation, Vermont’s Republican Gov. Phil Scott called for the president’s removal from office, and the National Assn. of Manufacturers — a Republican-friendly business group — put out a statement by its president denouncing Trump and calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment provisions allowing the Cabinet to replace the president. Numerous lawmakers and political leaders across the nation called for Trump to be impeached a second time, despite the expiration of his term in two weeks.
More About the Siege
— Shock and disbelief: reaction from across the United States and the world.
— Members of armed right-wing groups that stormed the Capitol said they supported the mob attack, calling it the beginning of another American revolution.
— “I’m in a roomful of people panicked that I might inadvertently give away their location”: Times reporter Sarah D. Wire gives a first-person account of being in the Capitol.
— Photos from a tumultuous day in the nation’s capital.
— A timeline of the storming of the Capitol.
Democrats Gain Senate Control
Before the tumult at the Capitol, Biden learned that Democrats are poised to control both chambers of Congress after the still-unofficial victories by the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s Senate runoffs.
Until Tuesday’s election, Biden faced the prospect of being the first Democrat since 1885 to enter the White House without his party controlling both houses of Congress. Now, by contrast, Democrats will have the power to decide what bills and nominations — judicial and executive branch — come to the Senate floor.
With that came the news that Biden has decided to choose Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, whom President Obama had tried to put on the Supreme Court, as his nominee for attorney general. Democratic control of the Senate also means California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s path to becoming head the Department of Health and Human Services and $2,000 relief checks for Americans became significantly more likely, and a passel of Trump-era regulations got shakier.
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FROM THE ARCHIVES
Golfer Arnold Palmer is credited with creating the professional industry as we know it today. He was not the most accomplished star, but his ability to dazzle audiences was unmatched, The Times wrote in his obituary.
In January 1964, Palmer played the Los Angeles Open, accompanied by “Arnie’s Army” of fans. In the Jan. 7, 1964, edition of the Los Angeles Times, sports editor Paul Zimmerman reported on the final round, writing that Palmer thrilled spectators with a long putt on the final hole, but tied for third place.
— Reported coronavirus infections in the state have reached 2.5 million, another alarming milestone that underscores an unprecedented surge that has overwhelmed hospitals and is expected to worsen in the coming weeks.
— As a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, several people were arrested amid a clash between Trump supporters, counterprotesters and police in downtown Los Angeles.
— Superintendents of seven of California’s largest school districts said that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to reopen schools fails to set a clear statewide standard for judging COVID-19 conditions and seeks to use taxpayer funds that would otherwise go toward existing education programs.
— Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Seal Beach), who previously expressed skepticism about the need for a mask mandate in Orange County, tested positive for the coronavirus.
— While Dr. Dre was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for a possible brain aneurysm Tuesday night, four men were arrested after they allegedly tried to burglarize the music mogul’s Brentwood mansion, police said.
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— Severe allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech were “rare” in the first 10 days of its rollout across the country, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
— The FBI investigation into whether the Nashville bombing on Christmas Day was a terrorist act has sparked criticism about a possible racial double standard and drawn questions from downtown business owners over insurance coverage.
— More than 50 former opposition lawmakers and rights activists, including an American lawyer, were arrested in Hong Kong in early-morning sweeps on suspicion of violating the city’s national security law, marking one of the biggest crackdowns to date on political dissent in the city.
— The pandemic is fueling a baby boom in the Philippines. For some, that’s bad news.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— A long line of Orson Welles depictions have tried to capture the Hollywood giant. “Mank” is the latest iteration.
— Netflix‘s unscripted comedy series “History of Swear Words” explores the origins of a beloved expletive. Too bad it’s not half as colorful as the language, writes television critic Lorraine Ali.
— Longtime network news star Katie Couric will take over the hosting reins of “Jeopardy!” for a week. She’s among the first guest hosts to helm the show after Alex Trebek’s final episodes air this week.
— The rescheduled SAG Awards were set for March 14, 2021. This week, the Recording Academy moved the Grammy Awards to the same date. Who gets to keep it?
— Real estate developer Mohamed Hadid’s Bel-Air mega-mansion, which he claimed would last forever before a court ordered it to be torn down, is on the market for $8.5 million. Once the property sells, the house will be destroyed.
— Ricky Strauss, a top Walt Disney Co. executive who oversaw programming for streaming services, is leaving the company after nine years.
— NFL coach is a unique job. Here’s what teams say they look for when interviewing candidates.
— The NFL’s Rooney Rule was supposed to increase diversity, so why are there only three Black head coaches? Because every year owners ignore the spirt of it without consequence, writes columnist LZ Granderson.
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— Don’t let the appalling mob attack on the Capitol obscure the GOP’s shameful enabling, The Times’ editorial board writes. Even if things had proceeded peacefully, the attempt to have Congress override the will of the voters was an outrage that could haunt the country in future elections.
— We can be outraged, saddened and terrified. But we can’t be surprised by what happened in D.C., columnist Robin Abcarian writes.
— Americans are used to saying, “It can’t happen here.” On Wednesday, it did. TV critic Lorraine Ali reflects on a day of terrifying images.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— How did the pro-Trump mob breach the Capitol Police security posture? Lawmakers want to know. (Roll Call)
— Remember Farmville? The Facebook game did more than harvest crops — it grew a new era of social media. (New York Times)
ONLY IN L.A.
In 2017, Nipsey Hussle helped to bring back World on Wheels, an L.A. rollerskating rink that was part of Los Angeles’ early hip-hop scene and a safe haven for youths who came from rival neighborhoods in South Los Angeles. Two years later, Hussle was slain. And now the rink’s future is once again uncertain, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic — but it’s more complicated than that.
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