But the rampage that shocked the world and left the country on edge prompted lawmakers to launch a congressional review of the U.S. Capitol Police’s failure to stop the breach and is forcing a broader reckoning over Trump’s time in office and what comes next for a torn nation.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that any remaining day with the president in power could be “a horror show for America.” Likewise, Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer said the attack on the Capitol was “an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president,” and Trump must not stay in office “one day” longer.
Pelosi and Schumer called for invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to force Trump from office before Biden is inaugurated on January 20. In fact, Schumer said he and Pelosi tried to call Vice President Mike Pence early Thursday to discuss that option but were unable to connect with him.
At least one Republican lawmaker joined them. The procedure allows for the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare the president unfit for office. The vice president then becomes acting president.
Pelosi said if the president’s Cabinet does not swiftly act, the House may proceed to impeach Trump.
The head of the U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund announced late Thursday that he would step down next week. The sergeants at arms of the House and Senate that oversee the police and security at the complex were expected to be removed.
Earlier, Sund defended his department’s response to the storming of the Capitol, saying that officers had “acted valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions.”
In his first public comment on the mayhem, Sund said in a statement that rioters attacked Capitol police and other law enforcement officers with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants and “took up other weapons against our officers.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser called the police response “a failure.”
Lawmakers from both parties pledged to investigate law enforcement’s actions and questioned whether a lack of preparedness allowed a mob to occupy and vandalize the building.
Urged on by Trump during a rally near the White House earlier in the day Wednesday to head to Capitol Hill, protesters swiftly broke through police barriers, smashed windows and paraded through the halls, sending lawmakers into hiding.
The protesters ransacked the place, taking over the House and Senate chambers and waving Trump, American and Confederate flags.
Newly elected Representative Cori Bush, a Democrat from Missouri, said if “we, as Black people did the same things that happened .... the reaction would have been different, we would have been laid out on the ground, there would have been, there would have been shootings, there would have been people in jail.”
One protester, a white woman, was shot to death by Capitol Police, and there were dozens of arrests. Three other people died after “medical emergencies” related to the breach.
Before dawn Thursday, Congress confirmed Biden as the presidential election winner, lawmakers resolved to return from shelter to show the world the nation’s enduring commitment to uphold the will of the voters and the peaceful transfer of power.
Pence, presiding over the joint session, announced the tally for Biden, 306-232.
Trump, who had repeatedly refused to concede the election, said in a statement immediately after the vote that there will be an “orderly transition” on Inauguration Day.
Several lawmakers suggested that Trump be prosecuted for a crime, impeached for a second time or even removed under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which seemed unlikely two weeks from when his term expires. The House impeached Trump in 2019, and the Senate acquitted him in 2020.
While Democrats led the charge to invoke the 25th Amendment, similar conversations among Republicans within the administration had made their way to Capitol Hill.
Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, publicly called on Trump’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the president from office.
“The president caused this,” Kinzinger said in a video posted to Twitter. “The president is unwell.”