Rioters storm U.S. Capitol
UPDATE: A veteran and a Capitol police officer are among five people who lost their lives in what was called a March to Save America, which turned into rioting and vandalism at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon. Iowa public officials offered statements denouncing the rioters, but stopped short of criticizing the years of rhetoric that many say have led to this moment. The social media platforms Facebook, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) and Twitter have silenced President Trump’s accounts indefinitely. Cabinet members and administration officials have resigned in the last few days as Congress has considered implementing the 25th Amendment, to remove the president’s authority, or articles of impeachment, which at the very least if President Trump is found guilty of the charges listed, would make him ineligible to run for president again in 2024. The protest began as a call for a 10-day audit of election results, but only for the Presidential election, as Trump supporters echoed his claim of widespread election fraud, even though there is no fraud claimed in congressional, state or local-level elections in the same states and precincts.
U.S. Representative Randy Feenstra completed his first week representing Iowa’s fourth district by evacuating from the U.S. House chamber with his fellow members of Congress. Feenstra said while it is every American’s right to protest peacefully, “Violence is never the answer. Thank you, Capitol Police, for working today & every day to keep us safe.”
Rep. Feenstra urged anyone involved in the protest to remain peaceful and ask others to do the same.
“The world is watching,” Feenstra said.
Iowa’s Senators had strong words against the protest at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon. At about 2:15 p.m., Senator Joni Ernst released a statement saying, “I served in uniform to defend the right to peaceful protest. What’s happening at the Capitol right now is not peaceful nor a protest. It’s anarchy and a betrayal of the American ideals we hold dear.”
Senator Ernst added that she and her staff are safe and thanked Capitol Police for their “selfless work.”
Senator Charles Grassley’s spokesperson said they would not comment on where the senator was on Wednesday afternoon due to security. His standard security detail stayed with him, as he was escorted out of the Senate chamber along with Vice President Mike Pence. Senator Grassley had opened the Senate’s business in the morning before the Senate took up the matter of counting the electoral votes as it has done each inaugural year on Jan. 6.
Senate parliamentary staff grabbed the boxes containing the Electoral College certificates as they rushed away.
By 2:40 p.m. Central time, Vice President Pence stated that protests engulfing the Capitol are “an attack on our Capitol.” He urged people involved to immediately leave the building and that they would be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Vice President Pence on Wednesday morning had sent a letter to the Senate stating that he could not meet President Trump’s request to attempt to unilaterally turn over the electoral vote because the U.S. Constitution would not allow him to do so.
Video footage showed protestors fighting with Secret Service and Capitol Police within the U.S. Capitol, chanting, “USA! USA!”
Around 2:45 p.m, the Virginia National Guard and 200 Virginia state troopers were headed to the Capitol, sent by Virginia governor Ralph Northam as protests continued.
The mob interrupted the typically routine process of Congress certifying the presidential election results on Wednesday. In the Senate, Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) had just begun his remarks when the Senate was suddenly put into recess. The chamber later evacuated.
Less than an hour later, President Trump told his supporters to go home in peace, in a message recorded outside the White House and posted to Twitter. Trump also told the protesters they were special and he loved them, and reminded Republicans in the group that “We are the Party of Law and Order.”
The message was recorded after President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation from the Office of the President-Elect. Biden demanded “an end to this siege,” calling it an “assault on the rule of law like few times we’ve ever seen it.”
A woman was shot inside the Capitol and was taken to the hospital in critical condition. A total of at least five people have been transported to the hospital as of Estherville News press time. A bomb squad detonated a suspicious device found at Republican National Committee headquarters.
Earlier in the day, supporters of President Trump attended a rally at the Washington Monument called the “Save America Rally” led by Trump lawyer Rudy Guiliani and the president’s sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr.