Members of Congress were working to certify Electoral College results that declare Joe Biden as the next president of the United States when some pro-Trump supporters, later described as a mob, overtook law enforcement outside and entered the halls of Congress Wednesday.
A number of the pro-Trump supporters escalated the peaceful protest outside the U.S. Capitol into a disturbing attack on the Democratic process when they breached security barriers, bypassed law enforcement and took over the Capitol building.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter to again allege election fraud. Twitter labeled his tweet: "This claim about election fraud is disputed." Politicians from both parties weighed in on Trump's rhetoric. Sen. Cory Booker tweeted, "Donald Trump incited this. He is responsible for this."
After some of the rioters strolled into the House chambers, broke windows, roamed the Senate floor and took cellphone photos, tear gas was dispatched, guns were drawn, dozens were arrested, and four people died including Ashli Babbit, an insurrectionist and Trump loyalist who was shot inside the Capitol.
"Leave the building," Vice President Mike Pence tweeted.
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Sen. Lindsey Graham described the day's events as "a national embarrassment" and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser enacted a 6 p.m. curfew for Washington, D.C.
Photos: Pro-Trump Supporters Breach the Capitol Building
Trump posted a recorded video message to Twitter and said the election was stolen. The tweet was later deleted.
"The world's watching and like so many other Americans, I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation, so long the beacon of light and hope for democracy, has come to such a dark moment," President-elect Joe Biden said at a news conference.
Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rebuked the effort by Republicans to overturn the election results.
McConnell said that "our democracy would enter a death spiral" if the election results were not upheld.
"The scenes we saw today will inspire others to take advantage. This is a serious moment in our history and we ought to not excuse it as a line of protest. A line was crossed today," said former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in an interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News.
The Capitol reopened to lawmakers, legislative staffers and press at about 7:30 p.m. local time so that Congress could reconvene to certify Biden's win.
Republicans and Democrats communicated with constituents on Twitter and shared their reactions to what Bowser called "unlawful behavior."