WASHINGTON — From the start of President Trump's administration, it was clear that he didn't and wouldn't accept the Constitutional rules that have long governed our nation.
Shortly after Trump told a crowd of his supporters outside the White House Wednesday that they should never accept defeat, hundreds of his army of fans broke their way into the Capitol's legislative chambers in what amounted to a full-scale insurrection against our government.
They smashed windows and climbed through them. Some were seen climbing the outside walls of the Capitol, then breaking their way into the hallowed Senate chambers and throughout other congressional offices across Capitol Hill.
Tear gas canisters were fired across the white marble floor of the Capitol's rotunda, official papers were scattered throughout other chambers and its offices. Trespassers were casually walking across the Senate floor, inspecting congressional papers on lawmaker's desks.
This was a rebellion against the government by a mob that eventually numbered in the thousands, Capitol Police said.
Many rioters carried poles bearing Trump flags, while others brandished Confederate flags.
Their anger was fueled by Trump's charges that his reelection was “stolen,” which it was not, but the claim was repeated by the hordes of protesters. When interviewed by reporters, rioters kept repeating the lies they had heard from Trump, having bought into them hook, line and sinker.
Capitol Police said it was the most brazen attack on Congress since terrorists hijacked a plane more than 19 years ago, intending to fly it into the building.
Triggering the protests was a procedural function in the Senate chamber to receive the Electoral College votes that would clearly seal President-elect Joe Biden's victory over President Trump.
That's when Vice President Pence, who was presiding over the chamber's session, was told by Senate officials that a mob had broken into the Capitol and was immediately whisked away by Secret Service agents.
The boxes containing the electoral votes were taken away to the parliamentarian's office for safekeeping. Later, when the all-clear announcement came, the boxes were returned to the Senate chamber. Soon thereafter, Biden would be declared the winner of the presidency.
Until that point was reached, the argument in the chamber was still about who had won the presidency, and who was responsible for the rioters that had stormed the Capitol.
Sen. Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York said that Trump was responsible for the break-in, calling Trump “a demagogic president” who had “pushed our country to the brink of ruin.”
As the debate in the Senate chamber continued, with the two parties blaming each other, Sen. Mitt Romney said, “What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the president.”
In the end, it had been one of the most violent episodes in the history of Congress.
One woman was shot and later died. Three other protesters succumbed to medical emergencies. The Senate stopped its proceedings. The House had its doors barricaded, and guns were drawn by police guarding the entrance. The Capitol Police said no one would be allowed to come or go from the premises.
“Murder the media,” read a message written on one door.
“We will not back down,” read another message left in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Biden condemned what he called an “unprecedented assault on American democracy, “unlike anything we've see in modern times.”
“This is not dissent. It's disorder. It's chaos,” he said. “It borders on sedition, and it must end now.”