Congress confirmed President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory early Thursday morning, hours after a mob of loyalists urged on by President Trump stormed and occupied the Capitol, disrupting the final electoral count in a shocking display of violence that shook the core of American democracy.
President Trump, who spent months stoking the anger of his supporters with false claims that the election was stolen and refused to condemn the violent protesters on Wednesday, said early Thursday that he would respect the results of the election.
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Trump’s comments came moments after Mr. Biden’s victory was certified shortly before 4 a.m. by a joint session of Congress presided over by Vice President Mike Pence.
There was no parallel in modern American history, with insurgents acting in the president’s name vandalizing Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, smashing windows, looting art and briefly taking control of the Senate chamber, where they took turns posing for photographs with fists up on the dais where Mr. Pence had just been presiding.
By the time the Senate reconvened late on Wednesday evening, hours after lawmakers had been evacuated from a Capitol overrun by rebels carrying pro-Trump paraphernalia, one of the nation’s most polarizing moments had yielded an unexpected window of solidarity. Republicans and Democrats locked arms to denounce the violence and express their determination to carry out what they called a constitutionally sacrosanct function.
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win,” Mr. Pence said in a sharp break from Mr. Trump, who had praised the mob. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said the “failed insurrection” had only clarified Congress’s purpose.
“They tried to disrupt our democracy,” he said. “They failed.”
The upheaval unfolded on a day when Democrats secured a stunning pair of victories in runoff elections in Georgia, winning effective control of the Senate and the complete levers of power in Washington. And it arrived as Congress met for what would normally have been a perfunctory and ceremonial session to declare Mr. Biden’s election.
The siege was the climax of a weekslong campaign by Mr. Trump, filled with baseless claims of fraud and outright lies, to try to overturn a democratically decided election that he lost.
“We gather due to a selfish man’s injured pride, and the outrage of supporters who he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and the 2012 presidential nominee, said after the chamber reconvened. “What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States.”
Wednesday evening, Mr. Biden, seeking to tamp down the anarchy that Mr. Trump stoked with angry language just hours earlier, Mr. Biden urged rioters to abandon what amounted to an armed occupation of the House and Senate. The president-elect denounced Mr. Trump’s refusal to graciously accept defeat, and suggested that the president was to blame for the violence.
“At their best, the words of a president can inspire,” Mr. Biden said. “At their worst, they can incite.”
Far from discouraging confrontation, Mr. Trump had encouraged his supporters earlier Wednesday to confront Republican lawmakers going against him to side with the Constitution.
After the voted was finally certified, Barry C. Black, the Senate chaplain, said a prayer in the chamber that acknowledged the violence.
“These tragedies have reminded us that words matter and that the power of life and death is in the tongue,” he said.
Congress rejected an attempt from Republicans to overturn the will of Pennsylvania voters early Thursday, effectively ending a final attempt from insurgents to turn a loss for President Trump in the state into a win.
The House rejected the challenge by a vote of 282 to 138, after a long debate dragged past 3 a.m. in Washington. A scuffle almost broke out on the chamber floor after Representative Conor Lamb, Democrat of Pennsylvania, delivered a particularly fiery speech in condemnation of the Republican objections.
“That attack today, it didn’t materialize out of nowhere,” Mr. Lamb said. “It was inspired by lies, the same lies you’re hearing in this room tonight, and the members who are repeating those lies should be ashamed of themselves.”
By a vote of 92 to 7, the Senate turned back the Pennsylvania challenge shortly before 1 a.m., as the number of objections to the counting of Electoral College votes dwindled after the mob’s brazen effort to keep President Trump in office, despite his decisive election loss in November.
Those senators voting against the results of the presidential election in Pennsylvania were: Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Rick Scott of Florida.
As most Republicans and all Democrats rejected the attempt, Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, forcefully turned back the plot, registering his vote as “hell no.”
Earlier in the evening, lawmakers rejected an attempt to overturn the Arizona electoral slate. The House blocked the attempt with a 303-to-121 vote while the Senate offered a sharper rebuke with a 93-to-6 vote.
After debating the merits of subverting the majority of Arizona voters, lawmakers sped through the certification for several states after at least four Republican lawmakers, including Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, said they had changed their minds and would vote to uphold the Electoral College results after having previously said that they would object to them.
Those voting against the results of the election in Arizona were: Mr. Hawley, Mr. Cruz, Mr. Tuberville, Ms. Hyde-Smith, Mr. Marshall and John Kennedy of Louisiana.
The move by Ms. Loeffler, who lost a special election in Georgia and failed to retain her Senate seat, amounted to one of her last acts in the upper chamber, and she announced her reversal during remarks on the Senate floor after the debate resumed late Wednesday.
BREAKING: Sen. Kelly Loeffler: “When I arrived in Washington this morning, I fully intended to object to the certification of the electoral votes. However, the events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider and I cannot now, in good conscience, object.” pic.twitter.com/IBxqsasylN
— ABC News (@ABC) January 7, 2021
Ms. Loeffler’s remarks came after Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and Senator Steve Daines of Montana condemned the actions of Trump loyalists who broke into the Capitol earlier on Wednesday and said they would no longer back an effort by some of their Republican colleagues to throw out the election results.
Ms. McMorris Rodgers’s remarks were particularly pointed.
“Thugs assaulted Capitol Police officers, breached and defaced our Capitol building, put people’s lives in danger and disregarded the values we hold dear as Americans,” Ms. McMorris Rodgers said in a statement, which she released a day after declaring she would object to the vote counts. “To anyone involved, shame on you.”
“What we have seen today is unlawful and unacceptable,” she added. “I have decided I will vote to uphold the Electoral College results, and I encourage Donald Trump to condemn and put an end to this madness.”
Shortly after Ms. McMorris Rodgers announced her decision, Mr. Daines followed suit, saying he, too, would certify electoral votes after having previously signed onto a letter saying he and other Republican senators “intend to vote on Jan. 6 to reject the electors” from some states.
“Today is a sad day for our country. The destruction and violence we saw at our Capitol today is an assault on our democracy, our Constitution and the rule of law, and must not be tolerated,” he said in his new statement Wednesday night.
The violence at the Capitol broke out around 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, as the House and the Senate debated the presidential election results. Within minutes of Trump supporters breaching the Capitol complex, a mob was pounding on the doors of the House gallery, where a group of lawmakers were trapped.
“I thought we’d have to fight our way out,” said Representative Jason Crow, Democrat of Colorado and a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq.
He said he moved the others away from the barricaded door in the gallery, helping them don gas masks and telling them to take off the lapel pins assigned to all House members. He took out his only possible weapon: a pen.
Representative Patrick Fallon, Republican of Texas, wrote on Facebook: “We broke off furniture to make clubs to defend the US House of Representatives.”
Multiple lawmakers reported that the Capitol Police had instructed them to take cover on the House floor and prepare to use gas masks after tear gas was dispersed in the Capitol Rotunda.
After 15 minutes, Mr. Crow said, the Capitol Police and SWAT team members cleared a path outside the gallery, above the House floor, and hustled the lawmakers out on a rescue mission.
With the police in the lead, guns drawn, the lawmakers entered a scene of chaos and mayhem, Mr. Crow said. Some officers rushed to barricade other doors to block the mob, which swarmed the hallways just steps from where lawmakers were meeting, wearing and carrying pro-Trump paraphernalia. Other officers pinned some Trump supporters to the ground to allow the lawmakers pass.
“This is insane,” tweeted Representative Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota.
Representative Nancy Mace, a freshman Republican from South Carolina, described seeing people “assaulting Capitol Police.” In a Twitter post, Ms. Mace shared a video of the chaos and wrote, “This is wrong. This is not who we are. I’m heartbroken for our nation today.”
“We heard yelling through the halls,” said Mr. Crow, who said that he brought up the rear to ensure all the members made it to safety. As the police led the lawmakers down stairwells and into the subterranean maze of tunnels to a secure location, Mr. Crow said he called his wife in Colorado, who had been watching the terrifying scene on television.
The shouts of the mob could be heard outside the doors of the Senate as the trespassers breached the building. The police whisked Vice President Mike Pence off the dais and out of the chamber.
As it became clear the Senate chamber was not safe, security officers ordered the senators to leave. They hustled through the tunnels of the Capitol with an armed police escort.
Aides snatched the boxes containing the Electoral College certificates, making sure that the vandals could not literally steal the results of the election. Before long, the invaders were inside the Senate chamber, prowling among the mahogany desks and even sitting on the marble dais where Mr. Pence had been seated not long before.
In the early afternoon, the police fired what appeared to be flash-bang grenades. Rather than disperse, the demonstrators cheered and shouted, “push forward, push forward.” One person shouted, “that’s our house,” meaning the Capitol. Other people repeatedly shouted, “You swore an oath.”
As protesters circled the House chamber, Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, yelled out to Republicans: “Call Trump, tell him to call off his revolutionary guards.”
“It’s horrible that this is America.” said Representative Norma J. Torres, Democrat of California, as the Capitol’s emergency sirens blared. “This is the United States of America, and this is what we have to go through, because Trump has called on homegrown terrorists to come to the Capitol and invalidate people’s votes.”
Lawmakers were determined to resume their work in the Capitol on Wednesday night, if possible, Mr. Crow said. “We want to go back and finish the business of the people to show that we are a democracy, and that the government is stronger than any mob,” he said.
Chief Robert J. Contee of the Metropolitan Police Department told reporters that the woman had been shot by a police officer on Wednesday afternoon as plainclothes police officers confronted the mob. She later died in a hospital, he said, and the shooting is being investigated.
At least 14 Capitol Police officers were injured during the demonstrations on Wednesday, Chief Contee said, including two who were hospitalized.
A video posted to Twitter earlier on Wednesday appeared to show a shooting in the Capitol.
The woman in the video appeared to climb onto a small ledge next to a doorway inside the building immediately before a single loud bang is heard. The woman, draped in a flag, fell to the ground at the top of a stairwell. A man with a helmet and a military-style rifle stood next to her after she fell, and shouts of “police” could be heard as a man in a suit approached the woman and crouched next to her.
“Where’s she hit?” people yelled as blood streamed around her mouth.
Chief Contee said that three other deaths were reported on Wednesday — one woman and two men — from the area around the Capitol. He said, without elaborating, that the three people appeared to have “suffered from separate medical emergencies which resulted in their deaths.”
President Trump on Wednesday evening openly condoned on social media the violence unfolding at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol, prompting Facebook and Twitter to remove his posts and lock his accounts.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday evening, after spending much of the afternoon in the Oval Office watching footage of escalating violence unfolding on Capitol Hill. “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
The tweet that appeared to prop up violent protesters as “patriots” and asserted baseless claims about the election outcome came after the president, under public and private pressure from advisers, had offered only a tepid response as the Capitol was breached for the first time in modern history and one woman died after being shot on the Capitol grounds.
Mr. Trump posted the message on both his Twitter and Facebook accounts. Facebook removed the post. Twitter first attached a warning label to the tweet that said it made a disputed claim about election fraud before removing the tweet atogether, claiming it “violated the Twitter Rules.”
In a follow-up message, Twitter said it was suspending the president’s Twitter feed for 12 hours — and possibly more if he did not delete his message — and threatened a permanent suspension if Mr. Trump violated its rules in the future. In doing so, the platform took away the president’s favorite method of communicating with his supporters directly, one he has used often since the election to spread false claims about widespread voter fraud.
Then, around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night, a Facebook spokesman said officials had identified “two policy violations against President Trump’s Page,” and as a result, would block him from posting on the platform for 24 hours.
Even as former administration officials and Democratic leaders called on the president to tell his supporters to “go home,” Mr. Trump for hours did little to discourage them from storming the building. Instead, he issued two perfunctory tweets in which he asked them merely to remain “peaceful.”
“Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue,” he wrote, after shocking scenes of broken windows and waving Confederate flags in the Capitol had been playing on television for hours.
The Trump supporters had made their way to the Capitol at the president’s behest, after attending a rally near the White House, where he baselessly claimed the election results were fraudulent.
It was only hours into the melee, and after an explosive device was found at the Republican National Committee headquarters, that Mr. Trump released a message telling the mob to leave.
“You have to go home now,” he said in a video message filmed at the White House and posted on Twitter. “We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We don’t want anyone hurt.” Still, the president ultimately offered encouragement to the mob, noting: “We love you. You’re very special,” and “I know how you feel.”
But many advisers around the president were worried that his message in the video was not forceful enough and that some of his supporters would interpret it as encouragement to continue fighting for him.
Alyssa Farah, who resigned last month from her post as the White House communications director, tweeted a more direct message at the president’s supporters.
“Dear MAGA- I am one of you. Before I worked for @realDonaldTrump, I worked for @MarkMeadows & @Jim_Jordan & the @freedomcaucus,” she said, establishing her conservative bona fides. “I marched in the 2010 Tea Party rallies. I campaigned w/ Trump & voted for him. But I need you to hear me: the Election was NOT stolen. We lost.”
Earlier in the day the president had also encouraged his supporters with an alternate message. “We will never concede,” Mr. Trump said at the rally.
At the Capitol, some lawmakers who were taken to secure locations blamed the president for the uprising. “This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said.
Some former administration officials publicly tried to encourage Mr. Trump to take a tougher stand to quell the escalating chaos, while other allies privately pressed him to do more. “The President’s tweet is not enough,” Mick Mulvaney, the former acting White House chief of staff, wrote on Twitter. “He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home.”
In a joint statement, Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders, said, “We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protesters leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol grounds immediately.”
But Mr. Trump resisted those private and public entreaties to make any outright condemnation of the violence. Instead, his ire was more focused on Vice President Mike Pence, who earlier in the day made clear that he planned to reject the president’s pressure to block congressional certification of Mr. Biden’s victory. Mr. Pence was evacuated from the Senate chamber as the tension escalated.
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.
After a day of mayhem that engulfed the Capitol and resulted in the death of at least one woman, the authorities there said that they had arrested at least 52 people as of late Wednesday night for a range of offenses.
At a news conference, Chief Robert J. Contee of the Metropolitan Police Department said that roughly 47 of the arrests were for violations of the 6 p.m. curfew imposed by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and “unlawful entry.” About half of those arrests were made on Capitol grounds, he said. The other five arrests were connected to weapons charges, he added.
Chief Contee said his department, which serves the District of Columbia, had been in constant communication and coordination with the U.S. Capitol Police, a federal agency that is responsible for safeguarding Congress and congressional buildings. But it was not clear how many arrests the Capitol Police, which has drawn particular scrutiny, made on Wednesday. No one in the department’s public information office picked up the phone late Wednesday night.
Throughout the day, as video footage of the violence surfaced, the response from law enforcement drew criticism from those who considered it to be too lenient. One video, for instance, appeared to show Capitol Police officers moving aside barriers and retreating as the mob flooded through.
Some immediately drew comparisons to last summer, when peaceful protesters demonstrating in Lafayette Square after the killing of George Floyd were met with flash grenades and chemical spray.
Attica Scott, a state representative in Kentucky, was arrested in Louisville on felony charges that were later dropped during the many months of protest over the death of Breonna Taylor in a botched police raid. “You can be arrested for walking while Black,” she said, “but you can be white and riot and basically get away with it.”
At the news conference, Chief Contee also made clear that two explosive devices found earlier Wednesday at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and the nearby headquarters of the Democratic National Committee were in fact pipe bombs.
He defended his department’s response and the way his officers were deployed on Wednesday.
“I’m very comfortable with that,” he said. “I think we’ll all look back to examine the different plans that were in place, the coordination, what U.S. Capitol Police plans — what they were. Certainly there was an agreement that if there was any assistance needed, that M.P.D. would answer the call. And we did that today.”
Asked directly if Capitol Police had failed, Mayor Bowser demurred, saying only that she was focused on ensuring that members of Congress “can do their work.”
Other onlookers, including Democratic lawmakers, were less charitable.
Representative Val Demings of Florida, a former police chief who was a contender to be Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s running mate, told The Associated Press it was “painfully obvious” that Capitol Police “were not prepared for today.”
And Representative Zoe Lofgren, the chair of the House Administration Committee, said she and her panel would work with House and Senate leaders to review the police response. The breech at the U.S. Capitol, she said, “raises grave security concerns.”
Meanwhile, attorneys general from states across the country also made clear that anyone who had traveled to Washington to commit crimes would be prosecuted when they returned home.
“This is despicable, a travesty,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “The darkest day since 9/11.”
The mayor of Washington extended a public emergency on Wednesday night as the local police worked to secure the area around the Capitol.
“Everyone needs to clear the Capitol ground and remove themselves back to their homes states, or wherever they’re staying, and let the police do their jobs,” Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters late Wednesday evening.
Ms. Bowser also issued an order extending the District of Columbia’s public emergency for 15 days. The order said that people who came to Washington “for the purpose of engaging in violence and destruction” had fired bricks, bricks, bottles, guns and chemical irritants. “Their destructive and riotous behavior has the potential to spread beyond the Capitol,” it said.
A number of regional police departments, as well as the National Guard, helped the Metropolitan Police Department establish a perimeter around the Capitol to help enforce an overnight curfew that took effect at 6 p.m., said Robert J. Contee, the department’s chief.
Chief Contee added that some of the Capitol Police officers who were injured during demonstrations on Wednesday were still on duty.
“Although they are injured, they are still working — they’re working very hard to regain control of the Capitol,” he said.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters that all 1,100 members of the D.C. National Guard had been mobilized on Wednesday afternoon to support the local police. He said that several federal law enforcement entities would be working to determine “how a clearing operation may be conducted.”
The decision to mobilize the D.C. National Guard — by Secretary McCarthy and Christopher C. Miller, the acting defense secretary — came as a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol earlier in the day.
Defense and administration officials said it was Vice President Mike Pence, not President Trump, who approved the order to deploy the D.C. National Guard. It was unclear why the president, who incited his supporters to storm the Capitol and who is still the commander in chief, did not give the order.
President Trump initially rebuffed and resisted requests to mobilize the National Guard, according to a person with knowledge of the events. It required intervention from the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, among other officials, the person familiar with the events said.
F.B.I. agents went to the Capitol grounds on Wednesday to help the police on the scene protect the building and the public. A handful of the F.B.I. agents arrived in camouflage and bearing shields and machine guns late in the afternoon outside the secure location where the senators were being held.
And at the request of U.S. National Guard officials, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York will deploy 1,000 members of the New York National Guard to Washington for up to two weeks, he said in a statement Wednesday night.
In the hours after President Trump took to social media to openly condone the violence at the Capitol, he found himself increasingly isolated as White House officials began submitting their resignations, with more expected to follow suit.
Stephanie Grisham, the former White House press secretary who served as the chief of staff to Melania Trump, the first lady, submitted her resignation after the violent protests. Ms. Grisham has worked for the Trumps since the 2016 campaign and is one of their longest-serving aides.
Rickie Niceta, the White House social secretary, also said she was resigning, according to an administration official familiar with her plans who was not authorized to speak publicly. And Sarah Matthews, a deputy White House press secretary, also submitted her resignation, saying in a statement that she was “deeply disturbed by what I saw today.”
More resignations were expected.
Mr. Trump was strangely silent on Wednesday night, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill reconvened to resume counting electoral votes and roundly denounce the violence. His Twitter feed was suspended after he made baseless claims about election fraud and openly condoned the violence of his supporters.
And he was isolated in the West Wing, where the aides who did not quit on the spot also steered clear of him to avoid his line of fire.
The defections of former loyalists started earlier in the day. Many advisers around the president were worried that his message in a video he posted on social media was not forceful enough and that some of his supporters would interpret it as encouragement to continue fighting for him.
“Dear MAGA- I am one of you. Before I worked for @realDonaldTrump, I worked for @MarkMeadows & @Jim_Jordan & the @freedomcaucus,” she wrote, establishing her conservative bona fides. “I marched in the 2010 Tea Party rallies. I campaigned w/ Trump & voted for him. But I need you to hear me: the Election was NOT stolen. We lost.”
Just after 1 p.m., when President Trump ended his speech to protesters in Washington by calling for them to march on Congress, hundreds of echoing calls to storm the building were made by his supporters online.
On social media sites used by the far-right, such as Gab and Parler, directions on which streets to take to avoid the police and which tools to bring to help pry open doors were exchanged in comments. At least a dozen people posted about carrying guns into the halls of Congress.
Calls for violence against members of Congress and for pro-Trump movements to retake the Capitol building have been circulating online for months. Bolstered by Mr. Trump, who has courted fringe movements like QAnon and the Proud Boys, groups have openly organized on social media networks and recruited others to their cause.
On Wednesday, their online activism became real-world violence, leading to unprecedented scenes of mobs freely strolling through the halls of Congress and uploading celebratory photographs of themselves, encouraging others to join them.
On Gab, they documented going into the offices of members of Congress, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Dozens posted about searching for Vice President Mike Pence, who had been the target of Mr. Trump’s ire earlier in the day.
At 2:24 p.m., after Mr. Trump tweeted that Mr. Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done,” dozens of messages on Gab called for those inside the Capitol building to hunt down the vice president. In videos uploaded to the channel, protesters could be heard chanting “Where is Pence?”
As Facebook and Twitter began to crack down groups like QAnon and the Proud Boys over the summer, they slowly migrated to other sites that allowed them to openly call for violence.
Renee DiResta, a researcher at the Stanford Internet Observatory who studies online movements, said the violence Wednesday was the result of online movements operating in closed social media networks where people believed the claims of voter fraud and of the election being stolen from Mr. Trump.
“These people are acting because they are convinced an election was stolen,” DiResta said. “This is a demonstration of the very real-world impact of echo chambers.”
She added: “This has been a striking repudiation of the idea that there is an online and an offline world and that what is said online is in some way kept online.”
After President Trump’s supporters stormed Capitol Hill, egged on by his rejection of the 2020 election results, a small but growing chorus of civic and business leaders and lawmakers released statements calling for his removal from power.
Some suggested that Vice President Mike Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment, which provides procedures that can be used to replace a sitting president who is no longer capable of fulfilling his duties.
“Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy,” Jay Timmons, the president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
Mr. Timmons, whose organization formerly had a tight working relationship with Mr. Trump, added that the “outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy.”
He was not alone in making that suggestion.
A Washington-based law firm, Crowell & Moring, which represents a number of Fortune 500 companies, issued a call on Thursday morning for the invocation of the 25th Amendment. Saying that “when it comes to defending our Constitution and our system of laws, we have a special duty and an exceptional perspective,” the firm asked other lawyers to join it.
Representative Charlie Crist of Florida, who is now a Democrat but was formerly a Republican, posted on Twitter that “The 25th Amendment allows for the removal of a President. It’s time to remove the President.”
Representative Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, echoed that call on Twitter.
Seventeen Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee signed a letter to Mr. Pence calling for the invocation of the 25th Amendment.
“Even in his video announcement this afternoon, President Trump revealed that he is not mentally sound and is still unable to process and accept the results of the 2020 election,” they wrote, referring to the video removed by Twitter.
By Wednesday night, at least 84 House Democrats said they supported efforts to remove Mr. Trump by way of impeachment or the 25th Amendment. The list included Representative Mike Thompson, Democrat of California; and Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon. Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, a Republican, also called for his removal.
Representative Katherine Clark, Democrat of Massachusetts and the assistant speaker, was the highest-ranking lawmaker to demand Mr. Trump’s removal, calling him “a traitor to our country and our Constitution.”
Concern centered on Mr. Trump’s rejection of a fair and peaceful transfer of power — he has repeatedly claimed, inaccurately, that the election was unfair or stolen — and on his failure to call off his supporters as they aggressively and illegally broke into the Capitol building on Wednesday.
Mr. Trump did eventually post a video suggesting they should leave, but in friendly terms.
“Go home, we love you,” he said.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis accused President Trump of instigating the assault on the Capitol on Wednesday and said he should be ostracized.
“Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump,” Mr. Mattis said in a statement. “His use of the presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice.”
Mr. Mattis, who resigned in December 2018 after Mr. Trump’s abrupt decision to order the withdrawal of about 2,000 American troops from eastern Syria without consulting allies, said that the country’s resilience would see it through the tumult.
“Our Constitution and our Republic will overcome this stain, and ‘We the People’ will come together again in our never-ending effort to form a more perfect union while Mr. Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country,” Mr. Mattis said.
He had issued a withering critique of the president’s leadership in June during growing protests across the country. “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try,” Mr. Mattis wrote in a statement at the time.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. demanded on Wednesday that President Trump call on his supporters to end what Mr. Biden called an “unprecedented assault” on democracy as an angry mob breached the Capitol, delaying the formal certification of the 2020 election and plunging Washington into chaos.
“I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege,” Mr. Biden said in brief remarks from Wilmington, Del.
Seeking to tamp down the anarchy that Mr. Trump stoked with angry language just hours earlier, Mr. Biden urged rioters to abandon what amounted to an armed occupation of the House and Senate. The president-elect denounced Mr. Trump’s refusal to graciously accept defeat, and suggested that the president was to blame for the violence.
“At their best, the words of a president can inspire,” Mr. Biden said. “At their worst, they can incite.”
He added: “This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition, and it must end now. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.”
Former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter released statements condemning the actions of the mob.
“History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation,” Mr. Obama wrote.
Violent clashes between the police and a pro-Trump mob underscored a grim reality for Mr. Biden: He will not only inherit a country wracked by a pandemic and an economic crisis, but also a political fabric that has been ripped apart by Mr. Trump in ways that have few equals in the nation’s history.
Never before in America’s modern history has the peaceful transfer of power devolved into a physical confrontation inside the corridors of power in Washington, this time egged on by an incumbent president, who on Wednesday morning raged that the election was “rigged” and vowed “we will never concede!”
Unlike Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump remained mostly silent for hours, tweeting only that he hoped his supporters would remain peaceful and eventually saying that the National Guard would be sent to help the police.
Moments after Mr. Biden delivered his remarks, Mr. Trump posted a one-minute video in which he empathized with the rioters because “we had an election that was stolen,” but urged them to “go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order.”
But many of his supporters appeared to dismiss the president’s tweets and video. Protesters waving “TRUMP” flags descended on the Capitol.
Instead of delivering remarks about his plans to accelerate the country’s economic recovery, the president-elect delivered a forceful call for peace as the National Guard raced to Washington.
“At this hour our democracy is under unprecedented assault,” he said, adding later, “Today is a reminder, a painful one, that democracy is fragile.”
An explosive device was found at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee in Washington and the nearby headquarters of the Democratic National Committee was evacuated after the discovery of a suspicious package on Wednesday, according to three people briefed on the discoveries.
The device that was found at the R.N.C. was a pipe bomb that was successfully destroyed by a bomb squad, according to an official for the R.N.C.
The package at the D.N.C. has yet to be identified, according to a top Democrat briefed on the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
The R.N.C. and D.N.C. are headquartered just a few blocks away from the U.S. Capitol, which Mr. Trump’s supporters stormed on Wednesday afternoon soon as Congress had gathered to certify President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory and shortly after the president addressed the crowd near the White House.
As a mob breached the Capitol, Vice President Mike Pence was rushed from the Senate chamber and the building was placed on lockdown. Shortly after, Mr. Trump tweeted that Mr. Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” because he did not try to reject the electors.
The National Guard for Washington and Virginia was activated Wednesday afternoon to respond to the unrest.
And the federal authorities arrested a 70-year-old man from Alabama near the Capitol in possession of a firearm and materials to make several Molotov cocktails.
Democrats took control of the Senate on Wednesday with a pair of historic victories in Georgia’s runoff elections, assuring slim majorities in both chambers of Congress for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and delivering an emphatic, final rebuke to President Trump in his last days in office.
The Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Senator Kelly Loeffler, becoming the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the South. And Jon Ossoff, the 33-year-old head of a video production company who has never held public office, defeated David Perdue, who recently completed his first full term as senator.
Both Democrats now lead their defeated Republican opponents by margins that are larger than the threshold required to trigger a recount under Georgia law.
The Democrats’ twin victories will reshape the balance of power in Washington. Though they will have the thinnest of advantages in the House and Senate, where Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will break 50-50 ties, Democrats will control the committees and the legislation and nominations brought to the floor. That advantage will pave the way for at least some elements of Mr. Biden’s agenda.
Mr. Ossoff’s victory comes at a moment when the nation’s political leadership has been paralyzed by a pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol and halted the formal accepting of the Electoral College results by Congress. The day’s extraordinary proceedings — rioting interrupting the peaceful transition of political power — crystallized the campaign the Georgia Democrats ran against their Republican opponents, both of whom pledged to seek to overturn the results of the presidential election to keep Mr. Trump in office.
The Republicans’ losses in a state that Mr. Biden narrowly carried in November, but that still leans right politically, also amounted to a vivid illustration of the perils of embracing Mr. Trump. He put his diminished political capital on the line with an election eve appearance in Northwest Georgia. And Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler unwaveringly embraced the president throughout the runoff races even as he refused to acknowledge Mr. Biden’s victory and brazenly demanded that Georgia state officials overturn his loss in the state.
The political fallout of Mr. Trump’s tenure is now clear: His single term in the White House will conclude with Republicans having lost the presidency, the House and the Senate on his watch.
Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock won thanks to a frenetic get-out-the-vote push that began immediately after the November election, when no candidate in either race claimed the majority needed to avoid a runoff. Driving turnout among liberals and Black voters in the early-voting period, Democrats built an insurmountable advantage going into election day.
They won thanks to overwhelming margins in Georgia’s cities, decisive victories in Georgia’s once-Republican suburbs and because of lackluster turnout on Tuesday in the rural counties that now make up the G.O.P. base.
In thousands of posts on Twitter and Facebook, members of the far right pushed the unfounded claim that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, carrying Trump flags and halting Congress’s counting of electoral votes, was made up of liberal activists posing as a pro-Trump community to give it a bad name.
Several posts shared by thousands of people held up photographs as evidence that antifa supporters were behind the unrest. But those images did not, in fact, show antifa involvement. Instead, some of the photographs, and the information contained in them, suggested ties to far right movements.
Even President Trump acknowledged that the people who supported him — not liberal activists — had invaded the Capitol. At one point on Wednesday he told the mob that “we love you.”
Among the most popular figures pushing the conspiracy theory were the commentator Candace Owens, the Georgia lawyer L. Lin Wood and Juanita Broaddrick, a nursing home administrator who in 1999 publicly accused President Bill Clinton of raping her in 1978. Other prominent figures spreading the rumor included Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas; Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential candidate; and Representative Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican.
The rumor that supporters of the antifa movement — a loosely organized collective of antifascist activists — had posed as members of the far right on Wednesday was shared more than 150,000 times on Twitter and thousands of times more on Facebook, according to an analysis by The New York Times. Altogether, the accounts pushing the rumor had tens of millions of followers.
“Indisputable photographic evidence that antifa violently broke into Congress today to inflict harm & do damage,” Mr. Wood posted on Twitter. “NOT @realDonaldTrump supporters.”
The “photographic evidence” that Mr. Wood pointed to in his post included a link to phillyantifa.org, where the photo of a bearded man involved in the mob was hosted. But that particular page exposed photos of known individuals in the neo-Nazi movement.
Another popular post, shared at least 39,000 times on Twitter, claimed without evidence that a “former FBI agent on the ground at U.S. Capitol just texted me and confirmed at least 1 ‘bus load’ of Antifa thugs infiltrated the peaceful Trump demonstrators.”
Untrue claims that “busloads” or “planeloads” of antifascist activists infiltrated protests are a common refrain from the far right.
In response to the baseless assertion, a Twitter user said, “Of course they did.” The user attached photos of a man wearing a horned helmet with his face painted in an American flag design as an apparent example of an antifa supporter.
The man was not an antifa supporter. Instead, he is a longtime QAnon supporter who has been a fixture at Arizona right-wing political rallies in recent months, according to The Arizona Republic.
Ben Decker and Jacob Silver contributed research.
As supporters of President Trump breached the nation’s Capitol on Wednesday, hundreds of other Trump supporters across the country gathered at state capitols, in some cases prompting evacuations and law enforcement mobilizations.
In Washington State, a crowd of Trump supporters, some of them armed, breached the fence surrounding the governor’s residence and approached the building before state troopers mobilized to keep them away. Noting that protesters have had grievances about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Jay Inslee said in a video statement that political leaders would not be swayed by the protests.
“Those acts of intimidation will not succeed,” said Mr. Inslee, a Democrat. No arrests were made.
In Georgia, law enforcement officers escorted Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger out of the State Capitol on Wednesday afternoon as a few dozen Trump supporters outside the building rallied to protest the recent election results.
Chris Hill, the leader of a right-wing militia, said he called some of his “troops” to the statehouse to protest, repeating the president’s false claim that the election was “rigged.” Mr. Hill said he believed the nation was headed toward a civil war.
In New Mexico, a lawmaker reported that the State Police were evacuating the Capitol, while Mayor Michael B. Hancock of Denver instructed city government buildings to close as about 700 people gathered outside the statehouse there. The authorities in Texas shut down the Capitol building in Austin “out of an abundance of caution.”
Trump supporters burned an effigy of Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon outside the Capitol in Salem and later fought with counterprotesters. In Arizona, they set up a guillotine.
More than 500 people gathered in Lansing, Mich., praying and carrying a mix of flags and guns.
“We have a restored voice in Michigan,” said Rick Warzywak, one of the organizers of the rally from Atlanta, Mich. “No matter what happens today in D.C., do not be discouraged. We’re going to be in a consistent battle for weeks to come and we’re not going to give up.”
In Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California canceled a news briefing on the coronavirus to ensure the safety of his staff, he said in a statement.
Outside the grounds of the California State Capitol, which had been cordoned off with barriers and was being patrolled heavily by the police, a few hundred Trump supporters demonstrated for a few hours, waving flags and listening to the president’s address. The Sacramento police reported “physical altercations” between the group and counterprotesters and several arrests for possession of pepper spray before the gathering was organically dispersed by a cold afternoon rainstorm.
And in Portland, Ore., dozens of left-wing demonstrators gathered late Wednesday for a “Stop the fascist coup” event. Police said the group broke windows at multiple businesses in downtown.
More than 80 House Democrats have called for President Trump to be impeached or removed from office, citing the chaos he stoked after he refused to accept the results of the election and encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol.
Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, the assistant speaker, on Wednesday became the highest-ranking lawmaker to demand Mr. Trump’s removal, calling him “a traitor to our country and our Constitution.”
“He must be removed from office and prevented from further endangering our country and our people,” Ms. Clark said.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, was more concise, simply posting the word “Impeach” on Twitter.
In the hours after Mr. Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol, forcing senators and members of the House to seek refuge, a growing number of lawmakers were calling for the president’s removal. At least 84 House Democrats said they supported efforts to remove Mr. Trump by way of impeachment or by having the cabinet invoke the 25th Amendment, which provides procedures that can be used to replace a sitting president who is no longer capable of fulfilling his duties.
Mr. Trump has two weeks remaining in his term in office.
Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts, said the president was “directly responsible for this insurrection and violence,” and called on Vice President Mike Pence to lead the cabinet in invoking the 25th Amendment.
“Or Congress must immediately impeach and remove the President for the safety of our nation,” Mr. Moulton said on Twitter.
In 2019, Mr. Trump became the third American president to be impeached for committing high crimes and misdemeanors, the fallout of his pressure campaign on the Ukrainian government to announce investigations that could help him politically. He was later acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.
With less than two weeks left in the president’s term, another impeachment effort is unlikely to be successful, and some lawmakers, like Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, were already tamping down the idea on Wednesday.
But the calls for impeachment underscored the fury felt by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the hours after a pro-Trump mob ransacked the Capitol, and by Wednesday evening, even some Republican lawmakers were laying the blame squarely at Mr. Trump’s feet.
“The president bears responsibility for today’s events by promoting the unfounded conspiracy theories that have led to this point,” Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, said in an uncharacteristically scathing statement. “It is past time to accept the will of American voters and to allow our nation to move forward.”
Vice President Mike Pence and other top Republican leaders denounced the violence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, as President Trump’s efforts to encourage the mob of his supporters to leave peacefully drew criticism for not being forceful enough.
“The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now,” Mr. Pence wrote on Twitter.
“This attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he continued.
Many of the other Republicans who sought to distance themselves from the mob violence on Wednesday had previously tolerated or outright encouraged efforts to subvert the results of the election.
Peaceful protest is the right of every American but this attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) January 6, 2021
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the first Republican senator to object to the certification of the election results during a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, denounced the storming of the Capitol building on Twitter, insisting that violence “is ALWAYS wrong.”
He did not, however, withdraw his objections to the results of the election.
“Those storming the Capitol need to stop NOW,” Mr. Cruz wrote. “Those engaged in violence are hurting the cause they say they support.”
Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the top Republican in the House and an early supporter of efforts to overturn the results of the election, called the violence on Capitol Hill “unacceptable” and “un-American.”
“I condemn any of this violence. I could not be more disappointed with the way our country looks right now,” Mr. McCarthy said in an appearance on Fox News, adding that he had called on the president to make a statement against the violence. “This is not the American way. This is not protected by the First Amendment. This must stop now.”
Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and an outspoken opponent of efforts by Republicans to subvert the election results, furiously denounced Mr. Trump for encouraging the chaos.
In a statement condemning the rioting hours later, Mr. Romney said that lawmakers should not be intimidated by the acts of violence, and he called on Congress to continue certification of the election results.
“We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters who he has deliberately misinformed,” Mr. Romney wrote. “We must not be intimidated or prevented from fulfilling our constitutional duty.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien, top members of Mr. Trump’s national security team, condemned the riots in statements released later in the evening.
“The storming of the U.S. Capitol today is unacceptable. Lawlessness and rioting — here or around the world — is always unacceptable,” Mr. Pompeo wrote.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also condemned the violence, writing in a statement that “an angry mob cannot be allowed to attack our Capitol.”
“The peaceful transfer of power is what separates American representative democracy from banana republics,” Ms. DeVos added. “The work of the people must go on.”
Other Republican senators swiftly condemned the violence on Twitter.
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, wrote on Twitter that there was “nothing patriotic about what is occurring on Capitol Hill.” He then pleaded with Mr. Trump to personally call for an end to the mob violence.
“Mr. President @realDonaldTrump the men & women of law enforcement are under assault,” Mr. Rubio wrote. “It is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down.
Later in the evening, as law enforcement agencies evicted the mob from the building, Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, condemned the president for encouraging the violence, saying that “lies have consequences.”
“Today, the United States Capitol, — the world’s greatest symbol of self-government — was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard,” Mr. Sasse said in a statement. “This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a longtime ally of President Trump, also denounced the storming of the Capitol building, demanding criminal prosecution for those who participated, and praised President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. for addressing the violence.
“I could not agree more with President-elect Biden’s statement to the nation. Time to retake the Capitol, end the violence, & stop the madness,” Mr. Graham said on Twitter. Republican members of the House who did not sign on to efforts to dispute the results of the election also vocally criticized the efforts.
“We are witnessing absolute banana republic crap in the United States Capitol right now.” Representative Mike Gallagher, Republican of Wisconsin, said in a video recorded in his congressional office, where he was sheltering in place. “This is the cost of countenancing an effort by Congress to overturn the election.”
Just days into his first term in Congress, Representative Peter Meijer, Republican of Michigan, denounced Mr. Trump after he posted a video in which he advised members of his mob to “go home” but also spoke in sympathetic and affectionate terms
“Enough. Acknowledge Biden as President-Elect and end this madness,” Mr. Meijer wrote on Twitter. “Violent rioters laid siege to the nation’s Capitol in an act of insurrection unparalleled in modern times. This is not leadership.”
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the most powerful Republican on Capitol Hill, forcefully rebuked President Trump and members of his own party on Wednesday as they sought to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, warning that the drive to overturn a legitimate election risked sending democracy into “a death spiral.”
In a lengthy speech defending his intention to vote against challenges to Mr. Biden’s victory — which he framed as “the most important vote I have ever cast” — Mr. McConnell urged his Republican colleagues ready to follow the president to step back from the brink.
He called some of Mr. Trump’s claims “sweeping conspiracy theories” and implicitly rebuked a dozen or so senators justifying their objections to the results by saying they were merely acts of protest.
“The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken,” Mr. McConnell, the majority leader, said. “If we overrule them all, it would damage our republic forever.”
He added a short time later: “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.”
But even as he spoke, there were signs outside the Capitol that the country was already in the throes of such a vicious cycle. Mr. McConnell, who was the first senator to rise in a debate over objections to electors from the state of Arizona, spoke as thousands of demonstrators massed outside the Capitol, clashing violently with the police and ultimately storming the building where Congress convenes.
Mr. McConnell’s remarks came on a day when he appeared to be headed back into the minority after six years of running the Senate, thanks, at least in part, to Mr. Trump’s relentless election attacks that have badly split the party. But while the president will be leaving office in two weeks, Mr. McConnell, 78, is likely to continue leading his party, and wants to play a crucial role in rebuilding it after years of Mr. Trump.
The intraparty brawl prompted by the election challenges was a situation Mr. McConnell had feared and that had prompted him to initially refrain from recognizing Mr. Biden’s victory for weeks after November’s election, wary of inflaming Mr. Trump’s grievances with his party.
When he did recognize Mr. Biden, his critics argued that the acknowledgment came too late, and that by waiting silently, Mr. McConnell had allowed Mr. Trump to sow dangerous disinformation with millions of Republican voters, drawing the backing of elected officials in his own party.
On Wednesday, Mr. McConnell said he had seen enough.
“It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise American voters and overrule the courts and the states on this thin basis,” he said. “I will vote to respect the people’s decision and defend our system of government as we know it.”
Images beamed around the world of Trump supporters storming and vandalizing the United States Capitol elicited alarm from the nation’s allies — and glee from its critics.
“This is not merely a US. national issue, but it shakes the world, at least all democracies,” said Peter Beyer, the German government’s coordinator for trans-Atlantic affairs.
In France, a member of the European Parliament, Nathalie Loiseau, sounded a warning that evoked the political battles in her own country. “A message to those who find populists amusing or are indifferent to them: This is what they are capable of,” she wrote on Twitter.
Later Wednesday evening, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the violence and said on Twitter that storming the Capitol was “unacceptable.”
“Lawlessness and rioting — here or around the world — is always unacceptable,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Months after the Black Lives Matter protests put racial tensions and police bias in the United States into the international spotlight, some observers were quick to see the assault in Washington as a further breakdown of law enforcement.
Analysts on Mexican television pointed out that the members of the mob were overwhelmingly white, noting that the police response to Black or Latino protesters would likely have been more violent. Mexican reporters who have covered the United States closely watched in astonishment as their neighbor’s capital city descended into chaos.
“I’m amazed at the lack of preparedness of the Capitol police and D.C. police,” said Carlos Puig, a Mexican television host and newspaper columnist. “I guess the U.S. institutions never thought this would happen to them.”
In Russia, the violence fit neatly into the Kremlin’s propaganda narrative of a crumbling American democracy. Russia’s state-controlled news channel, Rossiya-24, broadcast the chaos at the Capitol as part of a split screen, with one side showing happy Orthodox Christmas festivities in Russia, the other the mayhem in Washington.
In Israel, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak alluded to President Trump’s angry speechmaking in recent days as an open attempt at incitement.
“A shaky coup attempt on Capitol Hill. Lots of incitement by a defeated president who lost his temper,” Mr. Barak wrote on Twitter. “The lesson is clear: When those who are in charge are allowed to go wild, and those who had to act are paralyzed by fear — even the impossible can happen.”
The government of Venezuela, a frequent target of criticism from the Trump administration, issued a statement on Twitter that condemned “political polarization” in the United States and expressed hopes that the American people will finally be able to open a path toward “stability and social justice.”
A newly elected lawmaker from West Virginia was among the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the United States Capitol on Wednesday, filming as he stood among the crowd outside a door, rushing with them inside and wandering through the halls along with the scores of others who had breached the building.
The Republican lawmaker, Derrick Evans, posted the video to his Facebook page, where he goes by “Derrick Evans — The Activist” on Wednesday afternoon, but he later deleted it.
Mr. Evans, who was elected as a member of the House of Delegates in November, posted several videos from the events of the day, both narrating and joining in “Stop the Steal” chants with throngs of other Trump supporters. In the video that was deleted, he was among a crowd that shoved up against a door at the Capitol’s east front, some chanting and others loudly singing the national anthem. Those at the front appear to be trying to get inside, while Mr. Evans gives a running commentary on the attempts.
“We’re going in,” he says, at one point turning the camera to show himself wearing a helmet.
In a statement on Facebook on Wednesday evening, Mr. Evans said that he had “traveled across the country to film many different events,” and that earlier he had “had the opportunity to film at another event in DC.”
“I want to assure you all that I did not have any negative interactions with law enforcement nor did I participate in any destruction that may have occurred,” he wrote. “I was simply there as an independent member of the media to film history.”
The speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates, Roger Hanshaw, said in a statement on Wednesday night that he had “not spoken to Delegate Evans about today’s events,” though he said he saw what was posted on social media. Mr. Hanshaw, a Republican, added that “storming government buildings and participating in a violent intentional disruption of one of our nation’s most fundamental political institutions is a crime that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Mr. Evans was not the only Republican state lawmaker drawn to Washington to oppose the Electoral College counting.
A former Pennsylvania legislator, Rick Saccone, posted an image on social media of himself and a current state senator, Doug Mastriano, who led a panel last year airing baseless claims of voter fraud in Pennsylvania, and is a regular guest on the conservative television station Newsmax.
In a video he posted to Facebook that was later removed, Mr. Saccone, who lost a 2018 race for Congress, wrote in the caption: “We are storming the capitol. Our vanguard has broken thru the barricades.”
“We’re trying to run out all the evil people in there and all the RINOs who have betrayed our president,’’ he said while standing in the crowd, using an acronym for “Republicans in name only.” “We’re going to run them out of their offices.’’
Later in the evening, Mr. Mastriano, who is thought to have ambitions to run for governor in 2022 and accepted an invitation to the White House in late December, tried to distance himself from the mob break-in. “The violence on Capitol Hill today is unacceptable, unamerican and should be condemned by every citizen,” he wrote on Facebook. “This is not the American way.”
During the protests after the killing of George Floyd in May, President Trump vowed to “dominate” demonstrators, calling them “extremists” and “thugs,” while federal agents deployed tear gas and swept people into unmarked vans.
Peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square were suddenly met with flash grenades and chemical spray and rushed by police officers in riot gear to clear the way for President Trump to pose with a Bible in front of St. John’s Church.
Mr. Trump said that anyone who breached a security fence outside the White House would encounter “the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”
The tone, and the initial law enforcement response, were strikingly different on Wednesday as a lawless and destructive mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol and disrupted the counting of the Electoral College votes. One video appeared to show Capitol Police officers moving aside barriers and retreating as the mob flooded through.
Inside the Capitol, an officer pleaded with a man in a green backpack, saying, “You guys just need to go outside.” When asked why they weren’t expelling the protesters, the officer said, “We’ve just got to let them do their thing now.”
A flood of commentary followed, with many noting that the mob appeared to be largely white and insisting that they would have been treated far more harshly had they been Black or protesting racism.
Ivanka Trump called the rioters “American patriots” while urging them to stop the violence, in a tweet she later deleted. Her brother, Donald Trump Jr., said, “This is wrong and not who we are,” adding, “Don’t start acting like the other side.”
In a video posted hours after the attack on the Capitol began, President Trump repeated the false claim that the election had been stolen, adding “but you have to go home now.” He added, “We love you.”
Representative Jake LaTurner, Republican of Kansas, announced that he received a positive test result for the coronavirus on Wednesday night, after he spent the day participating in a failed effort to stop Congress from formally certifying President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
Mr. LaTurner, a first-term lawmaker who assumed office this month, took the test as part of travel guidelines from the District of Columbia that require visitors to be tested, according to a message from his Twitter account posted early Thursday. He was not experiencing any symptoms.
As a group of Trump supporters, many without masks, stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, members of Congress and their staffers crowded together to hide from the violence and chaos that unfolded. Senators were rushed in close quarters to safety through the Capitol tunnels.
Coronavirus cases in the United States on Wednesday continued to rise, with 255,730 daily cases and nearly 4,000 deaths reported. It was the country’s worst day of the pandemic so far, in both categories, though reporting delays over the holidays may have affected the totals.
Congress has come under fire for lacking consistent procedures to protect members and staff from the coronavirus. More than 100 members of Congress have either tested positive, quarantined or come into contact with someone who had the virus, according to GovTrack.
Mr. LaTurner does not plan to return to the House floor for votes until he is cleared to do so, a message from his Twitter account said.
Anyone traveling to Washington from a district with more than 10 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people must get a test within 72 hours of traveling, and visitors to the city must be tested within three to five days of arrival.