WASHINGTON – Vice President Mike Pence was ushered out of the Senate as the U.S. Capitol Complex went into lockdown due to an external security threat, while Trump supporters rioted outside the building.
A member of the Senate told NBC News that Vice President Pence and Sen. Charles Grassley, the president pro-tem, have been taken to a secure location.
The Senate chamber was also evacuated and lawmakers were told to stay away from exterior doors and windows.
Lawmakers had just begun the procedural process of counting the Electoral College votes and formally declaring President-elect Joe Biden the winner.
Members of congress run for cover as protesters try to enter the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images
Earlier, Trump, during a rally, encouraged thousands of his supporters to march to the Capitol to protest the confirmation of Biden’s victory.
Trump, despite telling the crowd he would join them in the march to the Capitol, returned to the White House. The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for query.
Trump slammed his Vice President Mike Pence on Twitter before calling on supporters to “Stay peaceful!”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a city-wide 6 p.m. EST curfew until Thursday, January 7. Bowser’s office has also requested the presence of the U.S. National Guard.
The Pentagon referred questions to the National Guard. The National Guard did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for query.
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
As chaos spread inside the Capitol, members of Congress tweeted dramatic descriptions from the complex.
In an interview with Fox News, U.S. House Republican leader Ryan McCarthy called the protests rocking the nation’s capital “unamerican.” He also told the cable news broadcast that shots were fired and that at least one person was shot. McCarthy said he spoke to Trump and asked for his help to quell protests.
“This is a coup attempt.” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican tweeted.
Rep. Peter Welch, the Democrat who is Vermont’s at-large congressman, said in a tweet that “gas masks are being prepared.”
According to MSNBC, a protestor who breached the legislative chambers shouted, “Trump won that election!”
Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican from Utah, directly blamed Trump for the riot.
“This is what the president has cause today, this insurrection,” said Romney, who was the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee.
A protester is seen hanging from the balcony in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump.
Win McNamee | Getty Images
Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the Republicans leading the effort to challenge Biden’s victory, also weighed in on the riot.”
“Violence is always unacceptable. Even when passions run high. Anyone engaged in violence—especially against law enforcement—should be fully prosecuted,” Cruz tweeted. “God bless the Capitol Police and the honorable men & women of law enforcement who show great courage keeping all of us safe.”