Trouble at the Capitol - The Aftermath
Updated: Mar 3, 2021
A majority of people are glad that 2020 is behind us and share the common hope that this year will be better than the last. However, a number of individuals remain furious regarding the results of the 2020 election that have already come and gone. Inspired by President Trump, these people question the legitimacy of the election and claim that it was “fraudulent.” On January 6th, 2021 their efforts to change the outcome of the democratic process shocked the rest of America and the entire world.
Trump supporters invaded the Capitol to halt the counting of electoral votes, a traditional and ceremonial part of our democracy. Once the Capitol was breached, senators and representatives hid in their offices and the Capitol basement as the rioters occupied the Senate chamber and the House of Representatives. Clips on NBC revealed protesters propping their feet up on the desk of ceremonial offices. NBC anchorman Lestor Holt called it a “desecration” of the Capitol.
PHOTO CREDIT JESSICA GRIFFIN
Nevertheless, from their place of hiding, Congressmen and Congresswomen remained determined. “I don’t care how long we have to stay here. We are going to ensure our constitutional process,” said representative Brendan Boyle (D). Representative Liz Cheny (R) stated, “there comes a time when our elections are over and we need to carry out our constitutional duty. We have a bipartisan commitment to uphold the rule of law.”
Meanwhile, it became quite obvious that the peaceful transfer of power had been interrupted. According to CNN, rioters stormed the Capitol “with guns and even zipties intended to take hostages.” In addition, several officers needed to be treated for pepper spray attacks. “This is an armed mob that has broken down doors” and “they had a flag pole and they were knocking down windows” reported NBC reporter Jake Shermen. Later, it was revealed that at least one improvised explosive device had been found on Capitol grounds according to NBC.
PHOTO CREDIT JESSICA GRIFFIN
Millions of Americans were watching the events unfold. At 10:49 a.m. HST, the National Guard was deployed. Shortly after, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D) said, “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that America would do this to their own Capitol. These are people who are not practicing democracy. These protestors will not stop me from carrying out my duty. I will be here and I will do the people’s business.”
About 3 hours after the riot began, President-Elect Joe Biden said “Our democracy is under unprecedented assault” and “These scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not represent who we are.” He also remarked, “It’s not a protest, it’s insurrection. America is about honor, decency, respect, tolerance. Today is a reminder, a painful one, that democracy is fragile. Think about what the children watching the television are thinking, think about the rest of the world.” Addressing the mob, Joe Biden said “Pull back and allow this act of democracy to go forward.” Addressing the President, Biden said “President Trump, step up.”
After Biden’s press conference, Trump finally released a one minute statement via Twitter directly addressing the rioters: “I know your pain, I know your hurt. The election was stolen from us. This was a fraudulent election. We have to have peace. I know how you feel but go home and have peace,” he told them. “We love you, you’re very special.” Journalists noted the contradictions within his statement. President Trump told the mob to go home, but simultaneously told them that their anger was justified. Andrea Mitchell (NBC) says that she believes president Trump “poured gasoline on this fire that he started” with this statement.
Throughout the entire day, Trump continuously reiterated the idea of widespread voter fraud. What was originally labeled as a protest was then identified as a mob. This storming of the Capitol has been described as a terrorist attack incited by the President of the United States.
On January 13th, a week later, Trump was officially impeached for the second time by the House of Representatives, making him the first President in history to face two impeachments. He was charged with incitement of deadly insurrection. A total of 232 Representatives voted in favor of impeachment including 222 Democrats and 10 Republicans, making it the most bipartisan impeachment in American history.
PHOTO CREDIT BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI
Despite there only being a week remaining in his presidency, Trump is currently facing trial by the Senate. Impeachment can continue after he leaves office on January 20th. Those who voted in favor of impeachment believe that it will deter future insurrection and prevent Trump from running again.
The Republicans who voted in favor of impeachment believe they have made the morally correct decision and accept the political consequences that could ensue. Consequently, the Republican party is divided on the future of their party in the wake of Trump’s troubled legacy.
It was confirmed on CNN that an impeachment trial will take place in the first weeks of Joe Biden’s presidency. If Trump is convicted, an additional vote will determine if he will be able to hold any federal office again.
Democrats and Republicans are united in their desire to move forward from Trump’s presidency and the riot he incited on January 6th, but they are divided in their approach to doing so. The perspective of the Democrats is that the country will unify through seeking accountability and justice, while the majority of Republicans believe that impeachment will prevent healing and cause further division.
*Resources include a NBC special report on national television on January 6th and a CNN politics live updates on January 13th.