Inside Congress as mayhem descended

U.S. SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: "...people of Arizona."


U.S. SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY: "The Senate will stand in recess until the call of the chair."

LANKFORD: "What, boss?"

AIDE: "Protesters are in the building."

LANKFORD: "Thank you."

Lawmakers were abruptly rushed to safety Wednesday (January 6), after supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol. A joint session of Congress to formally certify President-elect Joe Biden's election victory unexpectedly recessed as chaos ensued.


Capitol security stood at the main door of the House chamber with guns drawn as Trump supporters tried to enter, while others occupied the Senate chamber - one shouting that Trump had won the election.

Little more than an hour before the evacuations, all eyes had been on Vice President Mike Pence, who said he would not comply with Trump's demand that he unilaterally reject state electoral votes, which the Constitution does not give him the power to do.

PENCE: "Madam Speaker and members of Congress, pursuant to the Constitution and the laws of the United States, the Senate and House of Representatives are meeting in joint session to verify the certificates and count the votes of the electors of the several states for president and vice president of the United States."

A band of Republican lawmakers, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Arizona Representative Paul Gosar, quickly challenged the results, starting with Arizona, which Biden won.

GOSAR: "I rise for myself and 60 of my colleagues to object to the counting of the electoral ballots from Arizona."

PENCE: "Is the objection in writing and signed by a senator?"

GOSAR: "Yes, it is."


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed the effort to reject some state tallies in an emotional plea to his Republican colleagues.

MCCONNELL: "The voters, the courts and the states - they've all spoken. They've all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever."

Senator Chuck Schumer - who will become the new majority leader after Democrats won control of the chamber with two runoff election wins in Georgia - said the Republican challenge to Biden's victory amounted to "an attempted coup."

SCHUMER: "The eyes of the world are on this chamber, questioning whether America is still the shining example of democracy."

Minutes later tear gas was deployed in the halls of Congress. Capitol Police told lawmakers in the House chamber to take gas masks from beneath their seats and drop to the floor for their safety.

Meanwhile, world leaders expressed shock at images of the violent protesters who overran the U.S. Congress, many of the foreign leaders saying that the outcome of the election must be respected.