For months since the U.S. election, the phrase has been ridiculed by many as alarmist or premature, but the scenes of Capitol Police aiming their guns at a vandalized door to prevent rioters from laying siege to the House Chamber inspired legislators and law enforcement from both parties to agree.
“This is a coup attempt,” Republican Rep. Adam Kinziger, a former Trump-backer from Illinois who voted against his impeachment, tweeted shortly after it began.
Like Kinzinger, ex-GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman called on his party to abandon their stolen-election fantasies and drew upon his decades of counterterrorism experience to describe the attacks on the U.S. Capitol as an attempt to overthrow the government.
“What would we say if another country was doing this right now?” he asked in an interview with Law&Crime. “We would call it a coup attempt.”
It was the same event that Trump explicitly encouraged on Twitter, under the banner of a “BIG Protest rally” that was known by then to be organized by neo-fascist organizations like the Proud Boys and militias like the Oath Keepers. Before the event, a Proud Boys leader was arrested with high-capacity weapons, and mobs physically clashed with police on the streets of Washington, D.C. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the trial to ready for “trial by combat,” just hours before they breached the Capitol and Vice President Mike Pence was rushed out of the Senate chambers. The mob already trespassed into the building when Trump attacked Pence for failing to indulge his fantasy of torpedoing President-elect Joe Biden’s certification.
Using the same words as Biden, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney—the only Republican in his chamber to vote to remove Trump from office during impeachment—called what happened an “insurrection” that was “incited” by the president.
“What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States,” Romney wrote in a statement. “Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy. They will be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. That will be their legacy.”
The Capitol is now reportedly secure, and the electoral count is expected to resume later this evening.
D.C. and Capitol police did not immediately respond to a request for information about arrests and incidents that took place, but BuzzFeed reported that there were only 13 arrests, with authorities exercising little control over the mobs who managed to storm the building.
The incoming president appeared on camera before the outgoing one to speak out against the “insurrection.”
“At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault,” Biden declared.
Insisting the shocking scenes did not represent the nation, Biden added: “It borders on sedition, and it must end now.”
“I call on this mob to pull back and let the work of democracy go forward,” Biden said, demanded Trump to go on television to defuse the situation.
Instead, Trump posted a video on Twitter continuing to lie about election fraud, telling the rioters that he loves them, and eventually added as an afterthought hours into their siege: “It’s time to go home.”
They did not, hovering around the Capitol even after the 6 p.m. curfew.
On the Democratic removal, Rep. Ilhan Omar and Ted Lieu called for Trump’s impeachment and removal.
“This is as close to a coup attempt that we have ever had,” ex-D.C. Chief Charles Ramsey told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. “Clear them out.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who is investigating Trump’s family and businesses, gave the label no qualification.
“The coup attempt initiated by outgoing President Trump has been despicable,” James wrote in a statement. “Today, it became violent. If blood is shed, it will be on his hands. These actions, fueled by lies and wild conspiracy theories espoused by President Trump, must be unequivocally condemned by every corner of our society.”
One woman was shot in the chest on Capitol grounds and has died, NBC reported, citing law enforcement sources.
[Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]
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