Jan 6, 2021

Axios PM

Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 563 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: Trump mob overruns Capitol

Capitol Police, with guns drawn, guard the doors to House chambers in the U.S. Capitol. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

On a day of high ceremony, a pro-Trump mob overran police barricades and invaded the U.S. Capitol while lawmakers inside were meeting to certify the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

  • With rioters loose inside, police locked the House and Senate chamber doors as some lawmakers took cover and others evacuated. The mob banged on the chamber doors, breaking the glass. Reporters inside the Capitol said they heard shots fired. Smoke billowed outside.
  • The National Guard was called in to try to help retake the Capitol.

Behind the scenes: A White House official told Jonathan Swan that while the protests rolled on the TV in President Trump’s private dining room, he was preoccupied by his anger about Vice President Pence — who was fulfilling his constitutional duty by presiding over a joint congressional session to certify Electoral College results.

  • Trump didn’t want to condemn his supporters so ended up releasing, under duress, a statement in which he repeated his false claim that the election was stolen.

The big picture: It was a violent culmination of Trump’s years of stoking grievances among his supporters, using Twitter and rallies to argue that they can’t trust the American government — or anyone but him.

  • Trump belatedly spoke to supporters by video from the White House, but he didn’t condemn the violence. “You have to go home now,” he said. “We love you. You’re very special. … I know how you feel."
  • In Trump’s video message, he repeated his false claim that the November election was “fraudulent,” which former Attorney General William Barr has said is not true.
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, a close Trump ally who was sheltering in place when the Capitol locked down, told ABC News in a live phone interview that he had called the president and “begged him to go talk to the nation — don’t do it by Twitter.”

  • In an earlier live phone interview with CBS News, McCarthy said the situation within the Capitol still wasn’t controlled: “Help is needed.”

With silence from the White House as the mayhem unfolded on live TV, Biden went before cameras in Wilmington, Delaware, and said, “This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition.”

  • Raising his voice, Biden added: “And it must end now.”
2. Scenes from the mob
A Capitol police officer shoots chemical spray at a protester attempting to enter the Capitol.
Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Reuters

The violence broke out after Trump finished an outdoor speech to a massive rally of supporters who came to Washington from throughout the country to protest the congressional certification of Electoral College results.

  • Trump spoke from noon to 1:10 p.m., overlapping by 10 minutes with the joint congressional session that was presided over by Vice President Pence.
  • Trump told the huge crowd that under a Biden administration, “you’ll see some really bad things happen.”
  • “We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue … and we’re going to try and give our Republicans … the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,” Trump told the crowd.
Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier. Photo: Julio Cortez/AP
A member of the mob hangs from the balcony in the Senate Chamber. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
3. The bottom line

Capitol Police try to hold back a mob outside the east doors to the House side of the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

The seat of our government and all its historic artifacts — statues contributed by every state, the bier on which Lincoln's and JFK's caskets rested — were put at risk today, Axios' Glen Johnson notes.

  • All semblance of security for one of the most secure buildings in the world was put in doubt as crowds rushed across the polished marble floors and sat in the Senate chamber seat where VP Mike Pence had presided only an hour earlier.
  • The nation's lawmakers had to retreat rather than forge ahead with our country's most consequential business: peacefully certifying the election of our next president of the United States.

The bottom line: At this point, the best outcome is the mob being removed nonviolently and Congress resuming the vote — no easy thing.