Editor’s Note: The Laker/Lutz News, normally a strictly local publication with limited political coverage, is presenting this account because of the historic nature of last week’s events.
Repercussions continue to play out from the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building by a violent mob — on the day members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were meeting to count Electoral College votes to certify the results of the 46th presidential election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress, including some Republicans, are calling for President Donald J. Trump to resign from office; or, to be removed from his post through invocation of the 25th amendment; or, for him to become the first president in the nation’s history to face impeachment for a second time, according to national news reports.
In a interview on CBS’ 60 minutes, Pelosi told reporter Lesley Stahl: “There is strong support in Congress for impeaching the president a second time. This president is guilty of inciting insurrection. He has to pay a price for that.”
On the morning of the joint session of Congress, in remarks to supporters, Trump reiterated his claims that the election had been stolen and he encouraged the crowd to march up to Capitol Hill.
By the time the joint session of Congress began, there were thousands of people assembled outside the building. News footage showed that large numbers carried Trump flags or displayed other signs of support for the president.
At one point, the crowd breached the barricades.
People began climbing the steps, scaling the walls and occupying the terrace of the Capitol building, as seen on live coverage or video footage of the event. Some rioters smashed windows and climbed inside.
The mob streamed through the Capitol, ransacking offices and posing for photos.
Members of Congress hid behind or under furniture. There was an armed standoff at the House front door, with guns drawn by police to protect the chamber.
Five people died, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who passed away a day later from injuries suffered during the riot.
Efforts continue to identify, find and make arrests of those who stormed the building. An investigation also is expected over security failures, according to national news accounts.
During the interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Pelosi showed where an intruder posed with his feet on a desk in her office. She also showed the office where members of her staff turned off the lights, hid under the table and kept quiet, as intruders attempted to break in.
During the siege, President-Elect Joe Biden made an appearance on national television.
“At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault, unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times. An assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol, itself,” Biden said.
He told viewers: “It’s not a protest. It’s insurrection.
“This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition, and it must end — now,” Biden said.
“The certification of the Electoral College vote is supposed to be a sacred ritual. The purpose is to affirm the majesty of American democracy. Today is a reminder, a painful one, that democracy is fragile.”
Biden called upon Trump to go on national television to demand an end to the siege.
Trump issued a video, asking his supporters to go home, while expressing his love for them.
Later, he issued another video, calling for prosecution for those breaking the law, and promising a peaceful transfer of power.
Meanwhile, once order was restored at the Capitol, the House and the Senate resumed counting the Electoral College votes.
Congressional leaders said it was important to complete the count at the Capitol, as a sign of the strength of democracy.
During that count, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke out against objections raised by some colleagues.
“President Trump claims the election was stolen. The assertions range from specific local allegations, to constitutional arguments, to sweeping conspiracy theories,” McConnell said, during live coverage of the proceedings by CNN.
“I supported the president’s right to use the legal system. Dozens of lawsuits received hearings in courtrooms all across our country. But over and over, the courts rejected these claims,” McConnell said.
“The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. They’ve all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our Republic forever.
“If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” McConnell said.
The counting of Electoral College votes continued until it was completed, just after 3:40 a.m., according to a CBS report. Biden received 306 Electoral Votes; Trump, 232.
The inauguration ceremony for the nation’s 46th president and vice president is set for Jan. 20, at noon, when Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will be sworn into office.
Trump has said he does not plan to attend.
It is unclear at this time how security concerns will affect the inauguration ceremony — which already had been scaled back due to concerns about limiting the potential spread of COVID-19.
Published January 13, 2021