Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on January 20â€”something President Donald Trump and his most loyal allies couldn’t stop, especially after pro-Trump protestors mobbed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers worked to certify the election results Wednesday.
Trump’s baseless challenges of the election outcome likely emboldened the massive crowd that stormed the Capitol and cemented Trump’s standing in the Republican Partyâ€”on full display as thousands of his followers stormed the Capitol, delaying Biden’s election certification for several hours.
Several Republican lawmakers had announced that they planned to side with himâ€”raising objections to the certification of Biden as president, despite certification of votes in all states. The outbreak of Trump supporters, who marched from a mass rally that Trump addressed near the White House, prompted several to reverse those plans and others had already announced that they wouldn’t cave to the president’s pressure.
“The United States and United States Congress has faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who has been a staunch ally of Trump who spoke for the certification of Biden’s election, said when senators returned to the floor after the outburst. “We’ve never been deterred before and we will not be deterred.”
Trump, himself, resisted a direct rebuke of the demonstrators, who busted out windows, entered lawmakers offices and held an armed standoff with law enforcement as officials cowered nearby. Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and others had to be whisked to undisclosed safe areas in the Capitol.
The weight of Trump’s supporters hung heavy over the Capitol even after the dust had settled.
“That vote may sign my political death warrant, but so be it,” U.S. Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas) said after announcing that he would not object to the certification of Biden’s election.
Even the Democrats acknowledged the excessively rabid nature of Trump’s supporters.
“Today here at the Capitol, we witnessed people taking down an American flag and putting up a Trump flag,” U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) said from the Senate floor. “That’s not Democracy.”
Pence, who has avoided nearly any public criticism of Trump, didn’t mention the president but addressed Trump’s supporters from the floor when the Senate was safe to resume.
“You did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins,” he said.
But those who backed Trump’s position that the election should be overturned by Congress stood by their views that something was amiss with Biden’s loss, despite dozens of dismissed lawsuits and debunked conspiracy theories.
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican who was among the first to say he would object to results from states other than the one he represents and is considered a potential 2024 candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, defended his decision from the floor to unsuccessfully challenge results from Pennsylvania.
“What we are doing here tonight is actually very important,” Hawley said from the Senate floor. “For those who have concerns about the integrity of our elections, who have concerns about what happened in November this is the appropriate means, the lawful place where those objections and concerns should be heard.”
Trump has vowed to back GOP primary challengers against politicians that he believes have wronged him in the election, including senators who have acknowledged Biden’s win and state officials in Georgia. Since the election, money donated to his fundraising efforts has largely gone to a political action committee with loose regulations that he will be able to use to fund those efforts.
“What would he gain by being gracious here?” Lincoln Mitchell, the political analyst told Newsweek. “He’s not going to convince anyone he’s gracious. He’s not capable of it.”
Mitchell and others who have watched Trump closely over the years said they were not surprised at the president has continued to throw up roadblocks and cast doubt about his loss among his supporters.
“The civil war is over and Trump won,” Mitchell said. “He remains the most powerful Republican.”
Mitchell predicted in 2017 that Trump would fight leaving office if he lost re-election.
“It was never gonna go any other way,” Mitchell said. “Trump doesn’t have the abilityâ€”cognitively or psychologyâ€”to think ‘Maybe I shouldn’t do this.’ This is the only card he has to play.”
“The only way he can process this is as an injustice against him,” Mitchell added.