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THE US CAPITOL Building has been secured after riot police cleared scores of Trump supporters who had stormed the building, leaving one person dead. 

The building went into lockdown, with politicians inside, as a protest by pro-Trump supporters became a mob which broke into the building and occupied offices. 

President-elect Joe Biden has condemned the “extremists” who started this “chaos”.

The US National Guard is now being sent in to quell the protests.
The mayor of Washington DC has also ordered a 6pm curfew – that’s 11pm Irish time.

US media is reporting that a woman has been shot inside the Capitol building.
According to multiple reports, a video of the incident has been shared on social media. The woman can be seen bleeding heavily as she is stretchered away by paramedics.

Vice-president Mike Pence is calling for calm. 

He had earlier refused Trump’s request to block the formal confirmation of Joe Biden’s presidential win. Trump then turned on Pence and said he didn’t “have the courage” to “protect our country”.

So how did all this start? 

The violence has been developing over the last couple of hours – and began after protesters breached barricades amid violent clashes at the Capitol Building. 

President Trump had addressed a rally of his supporters earlier. 

Both chambers of Congress abruptly recessed as they were debating the Electoral College vote to rubber-stamp the Joe Biden presidency.

There was confusion in the House chamber initially as the Capitol doors were locked and debate was suspended.

A representative from the Capitol police spoke from a lectern on the dais and told politicians to remain calm, and that more information would be available soon.

The skirmishes first occurred outside in the very spot where president-elect Biden will be inaugurated in just two weeks.

Protesters tore down metal barricades at the bottom of the Capitol’s steps and were met by officers in riot gear.

Some tried to push past the officers who held shields and officers could be seen firing pepper spray into the crowd to keep them back. Some in the crowd were shouting “traitors” as officers tried to keep them back.

Trump earlier riled up his crowd crowd of supporters with his baseless claims of election fraud at a rally near the White House ahead of Congress’ vote.

“We will not let them silence your voices,” Trump told the protesters.

President-elect Joe Biden is due to address the American people in the next hour, according to US media. 

Some protesters even made their way into the offices of some prominent US politicians. 

One man broke into Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office and left a number of messages on her desk. 

Nancy Pelosi herself has just issued a statement calling on Donald Trump to order his supporters leave the Capitol building and its surrounding areas immediately. 

Biden is addressing the US nation.

“What is happening today is an assault on the rule of law, an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings – the doing of the people’s business. The scenes of chaos at the capitol do not represent a true America or who we are. 

“What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent – it’s disorder, chaos and it borders on sedition.”

Screenshot 2021-01-06 at 9.07.06 PM

Joe Biden has also just called on Trump to go on national television and tell his supporters to leave the Capitol. 

Micheál Martin has been tweeting…

Interestingly, Twitter has placed this warning below Trump’s video statement. 

It says it has disabled users from retweeting, replying or liking the video due to “a risk of violence”. 

image (2)

Some photos of developments in Washington this evening…

congress-electoral-college Source: Andrew Harnik

congress-electoral-college Source: Andrew Harnik

congress-electoral-college Source: Andrew Harnik

news-protests-in-washington-dc-as-the-u-s-congress-meets-to-formally-ratify-the-presidential-election Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

electoral-college-protests Source: John Minchillo

congress-electoral-college Source: Andrew Harnik

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on supporters of Trump to “stop trampling on democracy”. 

“Trump and his supporters should finally accept the decision of American voters and stop trampling on democracy,” Maas tweeted.

“The enemies of democracy will be pleased to see these incredible images from Washington DC,” he added. “Inflammatory words turn into violent actions.”

Boris Johnson has also condemned the “disgraceful scenes” at the US Congress by Donald Trump supporters and urged a peaceful transition to Democrat Joe Biden’s presidency.

“Disgraceful scenes in US Congress. 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,” Johnson said on Twitter.

If it’s teenage social media drama you’re after – then here you go. 

Pence has unfollowed Trump on Twitter and has also changed his banner picture to one of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. 

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The condemnations continue with European Union officials expressing their shock at the scenes unfolding in Washington, DC.

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

Screenshot 2021-01-06 at 22.06.18 Source: Twitter

“In the eyes of the world, American democracy tonight appears under siege,” the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell added.

“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,” Borrell added.

The entire DC National Guard has been activated to help deal with the ongoing situation unfolding at the Capitol.

Acting US Defense Secretary Chris Miller announced the full activation in a statement, saying he was prepared to provide additional support if requested by local authorities.

Interestingly, the Pentagon chief mentioned that he consulted with Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi but not President Donald Trump.

Here’s Miller’s full statement:

Chairman Milley and I just spoke separately with the Vice President and with Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Senator Schumer and Representative Hoyer about the situation at the U.S. Capitol. We have fully activated the D.C. National Guard to assist federal and local law enforcement as they work to peacefully address the situation. We are prepared to provide additional support as necessary and appropriate as requested by local authorities. Our people are sworn to defend the constitution and our democratic form of government and they will act accordingly.

Twitter said it is limiting the reach of tweets which promote the actions of rioters in the US Capitol, including Trump’s video message about the riot.

“We have been significantly restricting engagement with tweets labeled under our Civic Integrity Policy due to the risk of violence,” the Twitter support team said.

“This means these labeled tweets will not be able to be replied to, retweeted, or liked.”

Screenshot 2021-01-06 at 22.47.00

The sergeant at arms has announced to lawmakers that the Capitol Building has been secured.

The politicians reportedly burst into applause after the announcement.

Live footage from the scene showed police removing protesters from the area.

A woman who was shot inside the Capitol during the riot has reportedly died from her injuries, according to multiple US news outlets.

DC police chief, Robert Contee, said that 13 people have been arrested so far in connection to the “riot”.

A curfew has come into effect after an extraordinary day in Washington, DC.

An announcement played at the Capitol informing people in the area that anyone still on Capitol grounds after 6pm would be subject to arrest.

Reports from the scene indicate that most of the protesters have left the area.

President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to revel in the actions of his supporters, justifying their actions by citing unfounded claims of election fraud.

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” he said.

Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!

Twitter placed a warning on Trump’s post and prevented it from being retweeted, liked or replied to. It took a similar step with a video post Trump tweeted in recent hours.

Screenshot 2021-01-06 at 23.18.25

Former President George W Bush has issued a scathing statement about the rioting at the US Capitol.

“It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight. This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic,” the Republican said.

Without mentioning Trump, Bush said he was appalled by the “reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election.”

“The violent assault on the Capitol – and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress – was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes,” he added.

DC police have now confirmed that the woman who was shot while the mob stormed the Capitol Building has died.

Hi folks, Christine Bohan here taking over from my stalwart colleague Ceimin Burke on this extraordinary evening. I’ll be following what happens as police disperse the crowd outside the US Capitol building and the reaction to what’s happened in the past few hours.  

Thanks for sticking with us here. If you have a comment or a question you’d like to throw my way for the liveblog, mail me (christine@thejournal.ie) or tweet me (@christinebohan). 

Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has sent a letter to all her colleagues to say that the plan is to reconvene tonight to complete the counting of electoral college votes and validate Joe Biden’s election as US president (if you can cast your mind back to six hours ago, that’s why they were originally all there in the first place). 

This looks set to take place at 8pm (1am Irish-time), all going to plan. 

Here’s an interesting one. Mitt Romney, US Senator for Utah, former presidential candidate, and one of the few Republicans who has spoken out in recent years against Trump’s most egregious actions, has given probably the strongest statement from any Republican yet about what happened tonight. 

“What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States,” he said. 

“Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.”

“They will be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. That will be their legacy.”

 

It’s the second time that Romney was in the news today. You may have seen this video of him on Twitter earlier: pro-Trump passengers on board a flight he was a passenger on chanted ‘Traitor’ at him repeatedly during the flight, unhappy with his opposition to outgoing president Donald Trump. 

We can expect to see some striking front pages tomorrow, and here’s an early contender for one of the best from The Times of London.  

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On a night of firsts, here’s another one: Twitter has locked Donald Trump’s account for the next 12 hours – and said it won’t unlock it unless he deletes three of his tweets that violated its policies. 

This is unprecedented. I don’t have the words for how big a step this is for Twitter to finally take this kind of action. The big social media companies have (rightly) been criticised for their inaction over the last four years as Trump used their platforms to spread lies and misinformation – something that they have only begun to change since the US election in November. 

Twitter had already labelled some of Trump’s tweets tonight in which he repeated his baseless claim that the election was a fraud, not allowing users to like or tweet them. 

This is much bigger though. Trump has played Twitter like a musical instrument over the past four years, using it to express his moods, to encourage his base or just to sow chaos. What’s he going to do without it, even for twelve hours, when things are already on a knife-edge? 

The tweet was sent two minutes after midnight, so that means Trump has until just after midday today (Irish time) to delete the tweets. Start the timer. 

Melania Trump’s Chief of Staff, Stephanie Grisham, who was also the White House press secretary for a time, has resigned effective immediately in the wake of the protests, CNN is reporting

The article doesn’t give a reason for her departure, but notes that Trump’s incitement of tonight’s violence, and refusal to condemn it, “is causing increased discussion among his aides about resigning”. 

  

When the dust settles, there are going to be a lot of questions about the policing of what happened tonight

A reader named Ruth emailed to ask about this, particularly in the context of how some Black Lives Matter protests in the US were dealt with much more severely by police in recent months. “Seems inarguable that there’d be many more dead if this large a group of black Americans showed up to storm the Capitol,” she writes. 

Almost since the moment the mob first broke through the barriers at the US Capitol soon after 7pm, the policing appeared unusually light-touch (in one tweet that has been widely shared, a security guard or police officer in the Capitol building poses for a selfie with a rioter). 

The mob made it to the Senate chamber and to Nancy Pelosi’s office, as well as many other rooms in the heavily-guarded Capitol. 

The question is how they were allowed to do this. Was it a deliberate strategy? Were police and security understaffed or overwhelmed? Was it not understood as the threat that it was? Do police in the US – and elsewhere – just automatically treat different protesters differently, whether it’s due to race, class, training or other reasons? 

There’s likely to be an investigation to get to the bottom of this, particularly given that ro-Trump supporters had been planning for weeks to meet at the Capitol today so authorities should have been prepared. Let’s see what happens.  

On an adjacent note: this is well worth a read from BuzzFeed’s misinformation reporter Jane Lytvynenko about how the rioters planned today in plain sight, “openly planning for weeks on both mainstream social media and the pro-Trump internet”. 

Sure look, it’s not like you’re getting any sleep at this stage anyway. 

The House has now reconvened to count the electoral college votes and verify Joe Biden as president. 

It kicks off with a brief speech from Vice President Mike Pence opening the session. 

“To those who wreaked havoc in the Capitol today, you did not win,” he says. 

“Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”

He ends by saying, “Let’s get back to work,” to loud applause. 

Barack Obama has spoken, and has placed the blame on Trump, the Republican party, and the right-wing media for what happened tonight. 

“We’d be kidding ourselves if we treated [this] as a total surprise,” he said. 

Criticising their unwillingness to accept the outcome of the November election, he said that “their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo.”

He placed the responsibility on Republican politicians to clean things up and stop enabling Trump’s extremist actions and rhetoric. 

“They can continue down this road and keep stoking the raging fires. Or they can choose reality and take the first steps toward extinguishing the flames. They can choose America.” 

“For four years, we have witnessed turmoil in America. But nothing quite like this.”

If you haven’t seen it yet, this eye-witness report by Robert Moore of ITV, much of it filmed from within the depths of the riot, is a must-watch. 

First Twitter, now Facebook: Donald Trump has been banned for posting to Facebook for 24 hours, the social media company has said. 

Not to focus too much on the internet right now, but a) so much of what happened tonight was fermented on Twitter and Facebook so it is a huge deal that they are now – NOW! – taking substantive action, long after the horse has bolted and b) people associate Trump with Twitter but he is absolutely huge on Facebook – posts on his Facebook page are frequently the most popular posts in the US on a given day - and his base is super active and organised on it, so this is a big, big deal. 

I’m sure he’s taking this well (although how will we ever know). 

*eyes emoji* 

 This is quite something from CNN

 ”A growing number of Republican leaders told CNN that they believe Donald Trump should be removed from office before 20 January.” 

“Four of them called for the 25th Amendment to be invoked, and two others said that the president should be impeached.”

And it’s echoed by ABC (albeit in much softer language): 

A couple of hours it was just a few Democrats arguing that Trump should be removed before his term ends in two weeks. If even Republicans are talking about it now, could it actually be on the table? 

Look, this could just be a fever dream after the heightened events of the past few hours. There is not exactly a lot of time to do it – last year’s impeachment lasted several aeons, if I’m remembering correctly – and removing someone days before they’re due to finish up in a job feels very no-I-dumped-them. 

But the CNN article linked above shows the level of anger among some senior Republicans about what happened tonight. 

So just in case: here’s a helpful explainer of how exactly the 25th Amendment could come into play (aka the quickest but also trickiest way that Trump could be stripped of power). You could also watch Season 4 Episode 23 of The West Wing, if fantastically-written, facepalmingly-idealistic boomer fantasies about American politics are your vibe (although be warned, Jed Bartlet invokes the 25th Amendment because he is both a very good dad and a very good president, neither of which apply to the current situation).  

And here’s an explainer on how the impeachment process worked last time around, by our own Rónán Duffy, which gives you an idea of how this could all play out. 

Who knows! Maybe neither of these will be applicable! Or… maybe we’re about to see the final act of the most unpredictable presidency of our lifetimes play out in a way that would be both unpredented and simultaneously unsurprising. End as you mean to go on, as the saying doesn’t go. 

A statement from former US president Jimmy Carter avoids any mention of why Wednesday night’s riot happened and instead focuses on the future. 

Here’s another great front page for tomorrow/today. 

Not sure if you can see that sub-headline there but it says: “President incites crowd to acts of insurrection, violence”

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Ok, let’s draw the curtain on this extraordinary night for the United States. We’ll have more on TheJournal.ie from first thing in the morning – well, a more reasonable hour in the morning, at least. Thanks for sticking with us. This is Christine Bohan saying good night/good morning. 

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