The US Capitol building has been breached as Congress set about counting the Electoral College votes to formally certify Joe Biden as president.
Remember when Biden defeated Donald Trump and you thought politics would go back to being boring, procedural stuff?
Well, we’re not quite there yet. On Wednesday (6 January) Congress met to officially count the Electoral College votes of the 50 states and Washington DC, a formality that usually goes by without incident. But naturally, not today.
As proceedings whirred into motion, Trump supporters who had reportedly attended a “March to Save America” march violently breached the Capitol complex, tearing down four layers of security fencing and fighting federal police amid shouts of “f**king pussies”.
BREAKING: Trump supporters have breached the Capitol building, tearing down 4 layers of security fencing and are attempting to occupy the building — fighting federal police who are overrun
This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Thousands, police can’t stop them pic.twitter.com/VVdTUwV5YN
— ELIJAH SCHAFFER (@ElijahSchaffer) January 6, 2021
Certification was suspended, Mike Pence and senators rushed from the Capitol, and all buildings within the complex were placed under lockdown as trespassers entered.
Protestors have entered the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/dzaDGn5MoC
— Jazmine Ulloa (@jazmineulloa) January 6, 2021
More than one person – not least Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr – pointed out the stark contrast between the manner in which police allowed events to unfold and the violence routinely deployed against Black people at anti-racism protests.
Are the people who called for ‘Law and Order’ when people were in the streets because police shot a Black man in the back 7 times calling for it now?
White supremacy persists. And instead of eradicating it, many merely criticize responses to it.
We need a revolution of values. https://t.co/8SAxkGjZO5
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 6, 2021
Democrat Cori Bush lay blame squarely at Donald Trump’s feet. The president meanwhile offered a plea for support for Capitol Police.
I’m in the Capitol. I’m safe, and my team and I are sheltering in place.
The President of the United States has incited a riot that has now stormed the Capitol. There are rioters roaming the halls of the Capitol. I saw them with my own eyes.
Our country deserves better.
— Congresswoman Cori Bush (@RepCori) January 6, 2021
Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
Mike Pence confirms he will not do Trump’s bidding and overturn Electoral College vote.
With Trump still desperately trying to subvert democracy, all eyes had been on his right hand man Mike Pence, who will preside over the count.
Trump has pressured Pence to overturn the results in recent days (something he cannot legally do), but at the 11th hour the vice homophobe has, after four years, apparently found a spine.
In a statement, Pence confirmed he would not do Trump’s bidding, writing: “I do not believe that the founders of our country intended to invest the vice president with unilateral authority to decide which electoral voters should be counted during the joint session of Congress, and no vice president in American history has ever asserted such authority.
“Instead, vice presidents presiding over joint sessions has uniformly follow the Electoral Count Act, conducting the proceedings in an orderly manner even where the count resulted in the defeat of their party or their own candidacy.”
He was backed in Congress by house leader Mitch McConnell, who said: “Nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale that would’ve tipped the entire election. Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.”
Mitch McConnell: "Nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale that would've tipped the entire election. Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence." pic.twitter.com/fAdJZ571Qs
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 6, 2021
Joe Biden refuses to be left out of the drama.
Around the same time as Pence released his three-page letter, Joe Biden announced his pick for attorney general: Merrick Garland.
If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Garland was nominated by Barack Obama in 2016 to serve on the Supreme Court, only to be blocked by Republican house leader Mitch McConnell.
In a delicious slice of serendipity (or, perhaps, a cold piece of revenge by Obama’s Vice President, Biden), news of Garland’s nomination leaked on the same day McConnell appeared certain to lose his grip on power, as the results of the Georgia run-off put the Democrats on the verge of winning control of the Senate. All this in one day, and there’s still time to go.