We knew going into this joint session of Congress that the process would not go smoothly. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said during the debate over the Arizona electoral count, many Republicans plan to challenge the electoral counts of six states – not to set aside the election, but to put it on hold until a bipartisan committee consisting of five senators, five representatives, and five Supreme Court justices can complete a ten-day audit of the election process.
But as we settled in for a long deliberation, protesters gained access to the building and swarmed the Capitol, halting the process before even the first challenge could be resolved. The joint session began at 1 p.m. Eastern, and by 1:15, Vice President Mike Pence had to recognize the objection to the electoral count in just the third state in line, Arizona. It was about 2:15 that the Senate and the House both called recess. Within the hour, protesters had overrun the police and breached the Senate and House chambers.
The media has been quick to blame President Trump, who invited protesters to D.C., and the Republicans who have challenged the electoral count for instigating this. President Trump tweeted in opposition to violence, imploring protesters, “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
Sen. Cruz chimed in with a similar message. “Violence is always unacceptable. Even when passions run high,” he tweeted. “Anyone engaged in violence – especially against law enforcement – should be fully prosecuted. God bless the Capitol Police and the honorable men & women of law enforcement who show great courage keeping all of us safe.”
He went on to take it a step further 20 minutes later, calling for the protest to stop:
“Those storming the Capitol need to stop NOW.
The Constitution protects peaceful protest, but violence – from Left or Right – is ALWAYS wrong.
And those engaged in violence are hurting the cause they say they support.”
Sen. Cruz, of course, had hoped to get his ten-day audit of the election, just to clear up the concerns of fraud felt by more than 60 million Americans. While this ground the process to a halt, it’s unlikely anything would have come of it anyway. As Liberty Nation explained before, this attempt never seemed to have a chance. To the protesters storming the Hill, that clearly isn’t enough.
Police are reportedly attempting to evacuate as many people as possible. The VP and some others in the line of presidential succession have made it out, and others were told to shelter in place. However, due to the violence and the risk to life, it seems the safest place is not inside the building, and another evacuation attempt appears likely. Shots have been fired, and according to PBS, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has reported that at least one protester has been shot. What does this mean for the electoral certification process? What good – or bad – will come of this? These are just two of the many questions for which we don’t yet have answers.
Read more from James Fite.