The fervent protests surrounding the 2020 US election reached an ugly head Wednesday afternoon — but it had been steadily brewing for weeks and its implications could last for years.
The prospect of a huge gathering in Washington, D.C., was first revealed by President Trump as far back as Dec. 19, as he continued to deny losing the election to Joe Biden.
“Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” he tweeted of the protest to mark the day Biden’s win would be certified.
So, after weeks of hype, by 6 a.m. Wednesday thousands had already gathered around the Capitol for what was touted as the “Save America Rally.”
At 10 a.m., Trump’s attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, rallied the crowds by saying he was “willing to stake [his] reputation” on election fraud.
“And if we’re wrong, we will be made fools of,” he said. “But if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail. So let’s have trial by combat.”
Just before noon, the president addressed the crowds in a speech that lasted more than an hour.
“And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down … to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,” he said to cheers, although he did not walk with them as promised.
Lawmakers gathered in the House chamber around 1 p.m. to finally certify Biden’s election win — with rioters clashing with police outside the Capitol building soon after it started.
By 1:10 p.m., protesters had pulled down barriers facing the West Front of the Capitol.
Under threat of a siege, police ordered an evacuation of the Library of Congress, the Madison Building and Cannon House Office Building just before 1:30 p.m.
Within minutes, Trump supporters storm the Statuary Hall, a room that separates the House and Senate, heading towards the House and Senate.
At 1:40 p.m., DC Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a 12-hour curfew in the capital starting from 6 p.m. as the threat of violence heightened.
Just before 2:15 p.m., horrifying images and video started emerging of rioters scaling the walls of the Capitol complex and charging past lines of clearly outnumbered cops.
Lawmakers were then evacuated from the Chamber as rioters started smashing windows and ripping open doors as they were seen roaming Statuary Hall, carrying flags and chanting about election fraud.
Trump broke his silence at 2:38 p.m., tweeting, “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
Just before 2:43 p.m., some of the most alarming images emerged — of police drawing their guns at the entrance to the House Chamber as rioters try to smash their way in.
Some of the mob made their way to the dais, posing for photos as terrified politicians escaped wearing breathing masks and hoods.
Just before 3 p.m., an officer shot Air Force vet Ashli Babbitt as video showed her trying to climb through into a protected area — one of four fatalities during the day of carnage.
By now, the mob was running rampant — trashing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and smashing windows and ripping apart signs.
At 3:51 p.m., the entire National Guard — about 1,100 troops — was mobilized to back up overwhelmed cops.
While the curfew kicked in at 6 p.m., hundreds of rioters remained in the area for hours — before lawmakers finally returned to the Chamber at 8 p.m. to ratify Biden’s election.
On Thursday morning, lawmakers were demanding answers on how police had been so easily overwhelmed — as well as many calling for Trump to be removed from office.
With Post wires