Senate evacuated, VP Pence ushered to secure location after pro-Trump protesters storm Capitol
The U.S. Capitol descended into chaos Wednesday as hundreds of pro-Trump protesters swarmed the building, forcing the Senate to evacuate as demonstrators broke through barricades and barreled into the complex.
The frenzied scene forced Congress to abruptly pause a ceremonial event affirming that President-elect Joe Biden won the November election and evacuate parts of the building.
The doors of the Senate have been closed and locked, and senators have been told to stay away from the doors.
The dramatic situation came after Trump, who has refused to accept the results of the election, spoke to a large crowd in front of the White House. He angriled vowed that he would never concede to Biden and baselessly asserted that the election results were fraudulent.
"We will never give up, we will never concede. You don't concede when there's theft involved," Trump said to a crowd of supporters, some of whom chanted "USA!" or waved anti-Biden banners.. He later falsely claimed Biden would be an "illegitimate" president.
The U.S. Capitol Police said it was evacuated areas near the building as pro-Trump protesters stormed barricades set up outside the perimeter, and law enforcement officers were seen trying to push them back.
The Library of Congress, located directly across the street from the main Capitol building, was evacuated and people were told to remain calm and move in a safe manner to the exits.
"Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!" Trump tweeted.
Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., tweeted that she had to evacuate her congressional office because a pipe bomb was reported outside the Capitol. "Supporters of the President are trying to force their way into the Capitol and I can hear what sounds like multiple gunshots," Luria tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, just steps from Capitol Hill, was evacuated earlier Wednesday due to a suspicious package, and investigation is underway.
Trump's groundless claims of voter fraud have been widely debunked, and his legal team's efforts to challenge the election results in court have been rejected by a succession of judges. Trump has claimed Wednesday's joint session of Congress represents a chance to overturn the election, even though state electors have already certified the results and the event inside the Capitol is ceremonial.Trump has put pressure on Vice President Pence claiming he can intervene in the count. In his lengthy and digressive remarks, Trump called on Pence to "do the right thing," even though Pence's ceremonial role does not provide him with the power to intervene in the counting of votes. Pence sent a letter to Congress ahead of the ceremony stating he would not be doing what Trump has hoped.