In the early hours of January 7th, 2021, Congress certified President-Elect Biden’s win, hours after they initially intended. Historically, the vote certification is always on January 6th, but the madness that ensued at the Capitol obstructed the process. Officials originally believed there could be objections and tension when certifying the vote, but the events that occurred were unprecedented. Several Republicans still wanted to make objections, and in a letter to lawmakers, Vice President Mike Pence claimed “he would indeed fulfill his constitutional duties despite the president’s wishes” (Washington Post). The session started with an objection from Arizona, and because of it, the Senate split from the House of Representatives to debate the objection for two hours. During this time there were several speeches from Senators, such as Senators Ted Cruz, Amy Klobuchar, Mitch McConnell, Pat Toomey, and several more. Ted Cruz still claimed the legitimacy of the election was jeopardized, and believed moving forward with certifying the vote would say “tens of millions of Americans would get the message that ‘voter fraud doesn’t matter, isn’t real and shouldn’t be taken seriously” (Washington Post). Other Senators objected to his claims, and pushed to move forward with the certification.
Around 2:00 pm, the real chaos began. Protesters outside the Capitol began to breach barricades placed outside the Capitol, scaled the steps, and even climbed up the scaffolding on the perimeter of the building. By the end of the night, those protesters were being reported as rioters, and even terrorists. After 2:00 pm, officials in surrounding buildings had to be evacuated, the Senate and House of Representatives went into a recess, and Representatives were given gas masks. By 2:30, rioters actually breached the Capitol, by breaking windows and scaling walls, and causing chaos inside. Many officials were sheltered in offices or safe rooms, as some rioters entered the House and Senate floor. Pictures from this time show a terrorist sitting in Nancy Pelosi’s office after writing the message “WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN” (Business Insider), people roaming around the House and Senate floor, rioters sitting in seats they should never be in, and members of Congress taking cover. Through all of this, many urged President Trump to tell his supporters to back down. It took several tweets for him to actually tell people to go home, and in his last tweet, he said “Go home. We love you. You’re very special.” His twitter account has now been locked. At around 3:00 pm, the DC Mayor Muriel Bowser called a curfew from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am. Much of the protesting and rioting continued to occur though, even after 6 pm. To combat this, the DC National Guard was mobilized to support the Capitol police and metropolitan police. Hours after the initial breach, the Capitol was secured again. By 8 pm, Congress returned to the Capitol, and by the early morning of January 7th, the vote was certified. Several lawmakers even dropped their previous plans to object to the certification.
Many wide-eyed Americans, after a long night of agonizing over live coverage of the event, are left with a feeling of unrest the day following. A question hangs in the air: what now? There are reports that members of the president’s cabinet are discussing invoking the 25th amendment. Although there has been no confirmation that his cabinet will move forward with these plans, ABC News reports “Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., on Thursday became the first Republican to publicly call for the invocation of the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office” (ABC). So, what exactly is this 25th Amendment, anyway? In short, it was ratified in 1967 following President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It essentially sets up the framework for replacing the sitting president in the event of death, removal, resignation, or incapacitation. In other words, if the President becomes incapable of doing their job properly, the cabinet turns to the 25th Amendment. If it were to be enacted now, Vice President Mike Pence would take up President Trump’s place. Again, there has been no report regarding Pence’s standing on the matter. This is a still-developing issue in an already overwhelming time of confusion.
For our Unleashed readers, we urge you to remain informed as the situation continues to evolve.