The debate over objections to the Electoral Vote count in Congress has been suspended after protestors egged on by President Trump marched to the Capitol, breached several police lines, and entered the building, according to CNN, which said the Capitol is in lockdown.
At a rally earlier in the day, the President encouraged his supporters to reject Biden's election and make their voices heard, including by going to the Capitol where the counting was being done.
At press time, President Trump had not explicitly asked his supporters to back down from their efforts to get into the Capitol, which prompted the lockdown and suspension of debate and orders for legislators and their staffers to shelter in place.
He did tweet: "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!" Then subsequently tweeted: "I am asking for everyone at the U.S. 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!"
D.C.'s mayor has instituted a 6 p.m. curfew and CBS was reporting that Senators were being evacuate from the Capitol.
"This is a coup attempt," tweeted Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
The legislators were eventually evacuated to a location they were asked not to reveal.
New York Attorney General Letitia James called it a despicable coup attempt initiated by Trump. "If blood is shed, it will be on his hands," she said in a statement e-mailed to Multichannel News. "These actions, fueled by lies and wild conspiracy theories espoused by President Trump, must be unequivocally condemned by every corner of our society."
President-elect Joe Biden, commenting on the protesters, said: "Our democracy is under unprecedented assault, unlike anything we have seen in modern times."
He said the scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect the true America, but instead a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness bordering on sedition. He called on the mob to "pull back."
He called on President Trump to go on national television and demand "an end to this siege."
In a taped message carried by CNN and others, the President told the protestors he loved them and to go home, but also used the video opportunity to double down on his assertion, without any evidence, that the election had been stolen and was fraudulent.
"The Capitol Police have done an extraordinary job keeping us safe. I’m thankful for their heroism," tweeted Sen. john Kennedy (R-La.). "I condemn this violent assault on the democratic process & will not be intimidated by a mob that confuses chaos & destruction with strength & wisdom. I'll continue to work for LA."
“This is the United States of America. This needs to stop right now," tweeted Sen. Shelley Capito (R-W.Va.). "We don’t do this. It’s not who we are.” A spokesperson said Capito and her staff are safe.
"We are saddened and disheartened by the actions unfolding in our nation's capital," said NAB President Gordon Smith. "To the journalists risking their lives to bring this unprecedented scene to Americans across the nation, stay safe and vigilant.”
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.