Instead of a dignified act, it is one of the most unworthy days in recent US history: Trump supporters stormed parliament to prevent the confirmation of the election winner Biden. Biden spoke of an “unprecedented attack” on democracy.
In Washington, protests by supporters of the elected US President Donald Trump have escalated. After hundreds of Trump supporters rushed to the Capitol in Washington, the parliamentary seat was sealed off. Inside, both chambers of parliament met to confirm the results of the November presidential election, which is actually a purely formal act.
Chaotic scenes took place in front of and inside the building, and the police have since confirmed that at least one person was shot. The meeting was cut short after protesters made their way into the building. MPs were brought out of the building and put on gas masks as tear gas was used in the Capitol rotunda.
Biden: “Unprecedented attack” on US democracy
The election winner, Democrat Joe Biden, spoke of an “unprecedented attack” on US democracy. “I am really shocked and sad that our nation – for so long a beacon and hope for democracy – has arrived at such a dark moment.”
The violence must end, said Biden. “Storming the Capitol, breaking windows, occupying offices, occupying the United States Senate, rummaging through the desks of the House of Representatives in the Capitol, and threatening the safety of duly elected officials is not a protest,” Biden said. “It’s riot.”
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a city-wide curfew because of the rioting. Neighboring states sent the national guard and state police to the capital.
Trump incites protesters
Previously, the elected president had urged his supporters to protest against the confirmation of the election result by Congress, whereupon the demonstrators marched towards the Capitol. During the demonstration, Trump repeated his unsubstantiated allegation that he had been cheated out of winning the election.
In the past, the Republican had spurred his supporters on again and again. After the protesters had stormed the Capitol, he called on them via Twitter for moderation. “Stay peaceful!” He wrote, calling on them to support the police and security forces who were “on our country’s side”.
Only later did he request the demonstrators in a video message to leave. He understands the anger over the outcome of the election, “but you have to go home now,” said Trump. In this video, too, he repeated the allegation of electoral fraud – again without any evidence. Addressing the demonstrators, he said: “We love you. You are very special.” Like almost all Trump tweets by now, this was also given a warning by Twitter because of controversial statements.
Republicans are also putting pressure on Trump
Top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer had previously urged Trump to call the demonstrators back immediately. Several former companions also urged him to be clearer and clearly condemn the demonstrators’ action. “You are the only one you will listen to,” said Trump’s former communications chief Alyssa Farah. “Now condemn it.”
Trump’s former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney wrote, “The president’s tweet is not enough. He can stop this now and must do just that. Tell these people to go home.”
Pence: “All the hardship of the law”
It is unclear how the ceremony to confirm the election result will proceed. Several US media reports that MPs and senators want the session to resume as soon as it is safe again.
Trump’s deputy, Vice President Mike Pence, condemned the events around the Capitol. “Peaceful protest is the right of every American, but this attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be held accountable with all the harshness of the law,” Pence tweeted.
Pence opposes Trump’s request
Pence chaired the session of the two chambers of parliament, at which the election result should only be confirmed formally and in a dignified act. The law provides for him to play a ceremonial role. As soon as the votes of the electorate from the various states are officially counted in the purely formal act, he must declare Democrats Biden the winner of the presidential election, his boss Trump and himself the losers.
Before the meeting, Pence had made it clear that he did not want to block this confirmation of Democrat Biden’s victory. His oath to protect the constitution prevents him from deciding “unilaterally” about “which votes should be counted and which should not”.
Pence opposed Trump’s demands. The elected US president had increased the pressure on his deputy in the past few days to overturn Biden’s election victory. Pence should declare a number of the electorate illegitimate and replace them with those who vote for him, according to Trump. He had claimed that the Vice President had the power to “fraudulently” reject electors.