Police in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday responded with drawn guns and tear gas on as swarms of protesters sought to force the Congress to undo President Donald Trump’s election loss shortly after some of Trump’s fellow Republicans launched a last-ditch effort to throw out the results, Reuters report.
Police evacuated the House of Representatives and the Senate members after pro-Trump protesters marched through the halls of Congress, forcing both chambers to suspend deliberations as they were meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November 3, 2019 election.
One protester occupied the Senate dais and yelled, “Trump won that election.”
The chaotic scenes unfolded after Trump, due to leave office on January 20, addressed thousands of protesters, repeating false claims that the election was stolen from him due to widespread election fraud and irregularities.
Capitol police told lawmakers in the House chamber to take gas masks from beneath their seats and prepare to put them on. Officers at the front door of the House chamber had their guns drawn as someone attempted to enter the chamber.
Election officials of both parties and independent observers have said there was no significant fraud in the November 3 contest, which Biden won by more than seven million votes in the national popular vote.
Trump had pressed Vice President Mike Pence to throw out election results in states the president narrowly lost, though Pence has no authority to do so.
The certification in Congress, normally a formality, was expected to stretch for several hours as some Republican lawmakers mounted an effort to reject some state tallies, starting with Arizona.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denounced the effort, saying, “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called the challenges “an attempted coup” and said, “The Congress does not determine the outcome of an election. The people do.”
Outside the Capitol, members of militia groups and far-right groups, some in body armour, mingled with the crowds. Protesters chanting pro-Trump slogans overturned barricades and clashed with police.
On Twitter, Trump called on protesters to stay peaceful.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowers ordered a citywide curfew starting at 6pm .
Pence rebuffed Trump’s demand that the vice president unilaterally reject state electoral votes on the same day Trump’s fellow Republicans were poised to lose their majority in the Senate.