#CapitolRiot has been trending since last Wednesday’s riots on Capitol Hill. So, what really happened and what are we likely to see in the next few days? Read on. We’ve got a comprehensive recap for you.
How it began
Last Wednesday, Donald Trump spoke at a ‘Save America’ rally in Washington D.C. as Congress was readying itself to confirm the election results and certify Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States.
In his speech, the outgoing president claimed that big tech companies and the media had “rigged an election.”
“We will never concede,” he said. “They rigged it like they’ve never rigged an election before…we won. We won in a landslide. This was a landslide.”
“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats, which is what they’re doing and stolen by the fake news media,” he said before describing Biden’s win as a “disgrace”.
“I’ve been in two elections,” he said. “I won them both and the second one, I won much bigger than the first. I could go on and on about this fraud that took place in every state and all of these legislatures want this back. I don’t want to do it to you because I love you.”
“We will not let them silence your voices,” he continued. “We’re not going to let it happen.” Trump went on to encourage his supporters to walk down to Capitol Hill.
“After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you…you have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
After his address, thousands of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building, which turned violent soon after it began. Rioters broke through barricades and security checkpoints, entering the building and smashing things and releasing tear-gas bombs. Lawmakers inside the building were forced into lockdown and hid in small rooms.
Representative Jim Himes tweeted that police had asked lawmakers inside the building to put on gas masks as tear gas was being released in the rotunda. Rioters continued to traverse the building carrying Confederate flags and looting the offices belonging to senators and congresspersons.
Lawmakers called on Trump to instruct his supporters to leave the Capitol. Soon after, Trump posted a video of himself addressing his supporters on Twitter, telling them to go home, but continued to say that the election was “stolen” from him and that he “loved” them. The video was later removed.
At 7pm, Twitter locked Trump out of his account for over 12 hours due to “repeated and severe violations” of its civic integrity policy. For his account to be unlocked, Trump had to delete the video he’d posted earlier.
A little after 3pm, Trump tweeted, “I am asking for everyone at the US Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted, “The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building.”
Washington D.C’s Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a 6pm curfew. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a joint statement, urging Trump “to demand that all Protesters leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately.”
Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year old Air Force veteran and Californian was shot during a standoff between police and protesters in a stairwell outside the House chamber. She was one of five people who died during the protests. The Guardian reported that Babbitt’s Twitter account broadcasted conspiracy theories that portrayed Democratic lawmakers as evil pedophiles.
Calls for impeachment from Nancy Pelosi
House Democrat and Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina said yesterday that the chamber could vote as early as Tuesday on an article of impeachment charging President Trump with inciting a violent mob that attacked the Capitol.
Clyburn claimed that many House Democrats believe Trump must be impeached for his conduct though admit that leaders were still attempting to work out how to punish him without disturbing the first few days of Biden’s presidency.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Clyburn suggested Pelosi was thinking about impeaching Trump but only once Biden completes his first 100 days in office. The Senate is required to immediately begin a trial when it receives impeachment articles and cannot begin one without them.
Clyburn declared the country should “… give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running…and maybe we will send the articles sometime after that.”
Over the weekend, Speaker Pelosi spoke on 60 Minutes, saying that if Trump pardons himself, “He can only pardon himself on federal offences. He cannot pardon himself from state offences and that’s where he is being investigated.”
Pelosi also said that one of the motivations people have for advocating for impeachment is so that Trump is barred from running for the White House in the future.
“There is strong support in the congress for impeaching the president for the second time.”
Pelosi will hold a conference call over Zoom on Monday (US time) with fellow Democrats and several House lieutenants to strategies on their response to the riots. The call is scheduled to take place right after the introduction on the House floor of an impeachment resolution against President Donald Trump.
Yesterday, Pelosi accused the Trump supporters of choosing “their whiteness over democracy.” During an online video meeting with her San Francisco constituents, she criticised the majority white mob, saying “It has been an epiphany for the world to see that there are people in our country led by this president, for the moment, who have chosen their whiteness over democracy.”
“The complicity, not only the complicity, the instigation of the president of United States, must and will be addressed,” she said.
Susan Collins, a Republican Senator for Maine, is reported to have been “outraged” by the violence at the Capitol, though stopped short of commenting on the impeachment rumours.
On Saturday evening, Collins’ Communications Director Annie Clark shared a statement with NEWS CENTER Maine which said, “Senator Collins has talked to many of her colleagues. All of them, including Senator Collins, are outraged about the violence at the Capitol and the President’s role.”
Calls to retain data on mobile phones
Several Democratic politicians have called on mobile carriers to preserve social media content related to the incident in Washington D.C last week.
Over the weekend, US senator Mark Warner, a Democrat and incoming chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, urged mobile carriers to keep content and associated metadata connected to the riot.
Warner sent letters to tech companies, though the letter was addressed directly to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, emphasising how the rioters took the time to document the event and posted them via social media and text messages “to celebrate their disdain for our democratic process”.
“The United States Capitol is now a crime scene,” he wrote. “The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are currently investigating the events of that day, and trying to piece together what happened and the perpetrators involved… The texts, videos and pictures posted to your platforms…are critical evidence in helping to bring these rioters to justice.”
The world’s largest hotel company, Marriott International Inc, announced over the weekend that they plan to suspend donations to US lawmakers who voted against certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory last week.
Marriott spokeswoman Connie Kim confirmed a report in the political newsletter, Popular Information that donations will cease immediately.
“We have taken the destructive events at the Capitol to undermine a legitimate and fair election into consideration and will be pausing political giving from our Political Action Committee to those who voted against certification of the election.”
Arne Sorenson, the President and CEO at Marriott International Inc. also wrote a letter originally sent as an email to Marriott International associates and later published on LinkedIn.
“I recognise that we have associates who have very different views on the results of this election and the direction of the United States,” Sorenson wrote.
“We serve guests who also have a wide range of opinions and perspectives. In the US, we can use our voice and our vote to share our views. But what we can’t do is trample the Constitution; we can’t use violence and terror to force an agenda. It’s not who we are – and I would offer, it’s not what the vast majority of Americans want.”
In the last 24 hours, Pelosi announced in a letter to colleagues that the House of Representatives “will proceed” to bring legislation to impeach Trump.
“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi wrote in her letter to House Democrats. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”
Image credit: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images