Photo Gallery 5 Images
WATCH LIVE : Watch live coverage as Congress meets to count the Electoral College votes for the presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Some Republican senators and congressmen plan to oppose the count of several states.
Protestors storm Capitol, surround building as Congress meets to count Electoral College votes
NBC News- WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol descended into chaos Wednesday as hundreds of pro-Trump protesters swarmed the building, forcing police to evacuate parts of the complex as some demonstrators appeared to break through barricades on the building's steps.
The frenzied scene forced Congress to delay a ceremonial event affirming that President-elect Joe Biden won the November election and evacuate parts pf the building.
Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the joint session, could be seen rushing out of the Senate chamber amid the sounds of protesters who surrounded the Capitol.
The dramatic situation came after Trump, who has refused to accept the results of the election, spoke to a large crowd in front of the White House. He angriled vowed that he would never concede to Biden and baselessly asserted that the election results were fraudulent.
"We will never give up, we will never concede. You don't concede when there's theft involved," Trump said to a crowd of supporters, some of whom chanted "USA!" or waved anti-Biden banners.. He later falsely claimed Biden would be an "illegitimate" president.
The U.S. Capitol Police said it was evacuated areas near the building as pro-Trump protesters stormed barricades set up outside the perimeter, and law enforcement officers were seen trying to push them back.
The Library of Congress, located directly across the street from the main Capitol building, was evacuated and people were told to remain calm and move in a safe manner to the exits.
Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., tweeted that she had to evacuate her congressional office because a pipe bomb was reported outside the Capitol. "Supporters of the President are trying to force their way into the Capitol and I can hear what sounds like multiple gunshots," Luria tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, just steps from Capitol Hill, was evacuated earlier Wednesday due to a suspicious package, and investigation is underway.
Trump's groundless claims of voter fraud have been widely debunked, and his legal team's efforts to challenge the election results in court have been rejected by a succession of judges. Trump has claimed Wednesday's joint session of Congress represents a chance to overturn the election, even though state electors have already certified the results and the event inside the Capitol is ceremonial.
Trump has put pressure on Vice President Pence claiming he can intervene in the count. In his lengthy and digressive remarks, Trump called on Pence to "do the right thing," even though Pence's ceremonial role does not provide him with the power to intervene in the counting of votes. Pence sent a letter to Congress ahead of the ceremony stating he would not be doing what Trump has hoped.
Jason Bjorklund, who flew to the nation's capital from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said he did not know what to expect when Congress convened.
"I just felt compelled to be here because it seems like our republic is slipping away from us," Bjorklund said. He added, baselessly, that there were "mountains of evidence of fraud" and detailed conspiracy theories about Dominion voting machines.
When asked to account for the judges who have rejected the Trump legal team's attempts to challenge the election results, Bjorklund said: "I think we've got corruption from the top to the bottom."
Before the president's speech, it appeared some senators were being approached by Trump supporters near the Capitol, including an apparently exasperated Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who said he would not vote against affirming Biden's victory because he was bound to follow the law.
"I took an oath under God, under God!" Young said. "Do we still take that seriously in this country?"
Theresa Reilly and her husband, Bill, came to the nation's capital from Michigan — a key Midwest swing state that fell into the Democratic column in November — to participate in the Wednesday protests because they believe Biden's triumph over Trump was fraudulent.
"We don't believe they're honest, true voters," Theresa Reilly said as Celine Dion's theme song from the movie "Titanic" played on a speaker system in the background. "There's a lot of cheating going on, and I think everybody knows that, including Democrats."
Bill Reilly said that even without "doing too much research," it was clear "something's up" with the November election results
"The only thing I can say is, however many people are here, this isn't going to go away," he said. "If you thought 2020 was weird, 2021 is going to be 'hold my beer,' if you ask me."
Allan Smith and Ginger Gibson reported from Washington and Daniel Arkin reported from New York.
Rep. Clay Higgins tweeted:
Violence and lawlessness are unacceptable. This must end now. This is not American.
This very day, we were standing for American freedom, legally, peacefully, passionately, within the House of We the People, and within the parameters of our Constitution.
I say to all violent aggressors... stand down.