WASHINGTON, D.C. — Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Trump issued a restrained call for peace but did not call on his supporters to leave.
‘It gets real when you hear gunshots’
Congressman Ralph Norman was at the Capitol when the crowd came storming in. He was held in the tunnels below the Capitol for more than four hours until police said it was safe.
“It gets real when you hear gunshots,” Norman said. “When you have people banging on the doors.”
He said they were told to get their gas masks, hit the floor and get out.
Norman does not believe the president incited or encouraged Wednesday’s violence.
“He doesn’t condone violence, and the press is making him out to be the instigator, and the one that encouraged this,” Norman told Channel 9.
Norman said he is grateful for the police officers who brought an end to the chaos. He said those who left damage, destruction and people hurt are the criminals.
“The criminals that did this, they will identify and prosecute and put them behind bars,” Norman said. “(It) is the only answer.”
Reactions from local and state lawmakers and experts:
Sen. Richard Burr: “For nearly 250 years, our nation’s commitment to the peaceful transition of power has been the shining hallmark of our democracy. Today, America’s core principles were threatened by those seeking to forcibly stop our electoral process and overturn the results of a presidential election with which they disagreed.
“Let me be clear: these actions are not a defense of this country, but an attack on it.
“I supported President Trump’s legal right to contest the election results through the courts, but the courts have now unanimously and overwhelmingly rejected these suits. No evidence of voter fraud has emerged that would warrant overturning the 2020 election. The President bears responsibility for today’s events by promoting the unfounded conspiracy theories that have led to this point. It is past time to accept the will of American voters and to allow our nation to move forward.
“Congress will uphold its constitutional duty and certify the results of the election.”
Gov. Roy Cooper: The peaceful transition of power is the hallmark of our democracy. Today’s terrorism is not who we are. This attack on our country must be overcome. America is better than this.
“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us,” Trump said. “But you have to go home now. We have to have peace.”
Charlotte City Councilman Malcolm Graham: “I cannot believe the disturbing sight that we’re seeing on Capitol Hill right now. I thought I had seen it all over the past four years of Trump’s presidency. But every single time, he surprises me with his actions. There’s no bottom to his behavior, and I’m speechless. Sick to my stomach. And honestly – on the verge of tears.
It feels like we’re in a movie — there’s no way that this can be real life, right? But, it is real life. Our current President set a tone and encouraged his supporters to STORM THE CAPITOL. How do we deal with this? How do we justify this? What does our “great republic” look like right now to our allies? To people who believe America is the greatest nation?
Donald Trump should be impeached. He spoke at the rally earlier today, encouraging his supporters to take on this behavior. He should be charged with inciting a riot. House members were given GAS MASKS. Everyone was told to relocate to a cloakroom. The House Speaker was rushed off the floor. What you did, Donald Trump, you did with malice. You have lost your ability to govern.
Never forget what the GOP’s “Sedition Caucus” has done to our country today. No election is worth this kind of behavior.
Also, think back to what the federal government deployed for Black Lives Matter protestors after George Floyd’s death. Now, think about the fact that the Defense Department have denied multiple request to deploy the National Guard to the situation at the Capitol right now. People protesting racial injustice vs. “protestors” trying to stage a coup. Just saying.”
President Bush statement: “Former President George W. Bush released a statement on what he called an “insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol, calling it “a sickening and heartbreaking sight.
”This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement.
”The violent assault on the Capitol – and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress – was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes. Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation. In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law. To those who are disappointed in the results of the election: Our country is more important than the politics of the moment. Let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety.”