WASHINGTON, D.C. — Protesters breached the Capitol Building on Wednesday as Congress prepared to vote on certification of electoral college votes naming Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.
The protests came as President Donald Trump continues to allege election fraud in the Nov. 3 vote that saw Biden win by a margin of 306-232 electoral votes. Wednesday afternoon, protestors breached barricades and entered the Capitol Building, resulting in Congress recessing due to safety concerns.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., told reporters in a conference call that House members were escorted to a secure location by Capitol Police after protesters breached the Capitol Building. Welch said Trump “bears maximum responsibility” for inciting the protests due to continued claims of widespread election fraud.
“He has been inciting people to come here for weeks,” Welch said. “… If there’s anyone that’s earned impeachment or removal, President Trump has done it repeatedly.”
Vermont’s Republican governor, Gov. Phil Scott, criticized the riots as undemocratic, declaring them an “unacceptable attack on our democracy” and called for Trump’s removal from office.
“The fact is the results of this election have been validated by Republican governors, conservative judges and non-partisan election officials across the country,” Scott said. “There is no doubt that the President’s delusion, fabrication, self-interest and ego have led us – step by step – to this very low, and very dangerous, moment in American history.
”The fabric of our democracy and the principles of our republic are under attack by the President,” he said. “Enough is enough. President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress.”
A post on the Vermonters for Vermont Facebook page on Jan. 2 promoted a bus trip for the “#SaveTheSteel” rally. According to the post, the bus departed from Burlington on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and made two stops, one in Rutland and one in Vergennes, on the way to Washington.
The protesters joined hundreds who traveled to the capital Tuesday ahead of Congress’ scheduled vote.
The Associated Press reported that someone had been shot at the protest Wednesday afternoon. The exact circumstances surrounding the shooting were unclear. Welch confirmed that he heard what sounded like gun shots at one point as Capitol Police worked to ensure lawmakers’ safety.
The Pentagon says about 1,100 D.C. National Guard members are being mobilized to help support law enforcement as violent supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol, the AP reported.
As he faced growing pressure from allies to condemn the violence Wednesday afternoon, Trump tweeted, “No violence!” adding: “Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue.”
Vice President Mike Pence struck a more direct tone. In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Pence said, “This attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
President-elect Joe Biden has called the violent protests on the U.S. Capitol “an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings: the doing of the people’s business.”
Biden also demanded President Donald Trump to immediately make a televised address calling on his supporters to cease the violence that he described as an “unprecedented assault” as pro-Trump protestors violently occupy U.S. Capitol, the AP reported.
Election officials from both political parties, governors in key battleground states and Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have said there was no widespread fraud in the election. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two challenges rejected by the Supreme Court.
“The party stands by the integrity of our election,” said Asha Carroll, communications director for the Vermont Democratic Party, in an interview Wednesday.
“The American people have spoken resoundingly,” she said.
Calls to the Vermont Republican Party were not returned as of Wednesday afternoon.
Welch said he looks forward to concluding Congress’s work in certifying the results of the election.
“When the day ends, and it might well be into the morning and tomorrow, … this Congress is going to do its job in certifying the decision that the American people made,” Welch said.