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Trump supporters invade U.S. Capitol

USA Today

WASHINGTON — Chaos erupted in the nation's capital as supporters of President Donald Trump swarmed the Capitol building, prompting Vice President Mike Pence to be swept to a secure location and the Senate chamber to be evacuated.

The Associated Press reported that one person was shot and taken to a hospital. 

Thousands of protesters had gathered at the National Mall earlier to protest the election results. At a rally about an hour before the protesters broke through police lines at the Capitol, Trump had urged them to go to the building.

"We’re going to try and give our Republicans," he said. "... the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.''

Trump later tweeted asking protesters to "stay peaceful.''

Trump has unsuccessfully tried to overturn election results in six battleground states through dozens of failed lawsuits, falsely claiming the election was stolen despite no evidence of widespread fraud. Although several Republican legislators have indicated they will object to the certification of electoral votes for Biden, the campaign lacks the votes needed to overturn the results.

•House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asked for the National Guard to clear and secure the Capitol, according to a person familiar with the situation not authorized to speak on the record.

•U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., texted "shots fired" to a USA TODAY Network reporter at 2:46 p.m. ET while the U.S. Capitol was breached by protesters. It was unclear what Burchett was hearing, whether it was gunshots, flash bangs, tear gas or something else causing the sound. Burchett said he was in the House chamber.

•Washington, D.C., has instituted a curfew of 6 p.m. through 6 a.m.

•Dozens of protesters, many wearing red hats and holding “Trump” flags, could be seen walking through the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, according to live video streaming from C-SPAN.

•At earlier rallies on the Mall, most of the early crowd shunned face coverings despite the nationwide surge in coronavirus cases, though some wore red “Make America Great Again” masks. “USA” and “stop the steal” chants rippled through the area. Music blared and people stumped for the president with megaphones. Many donned red, white and blue apparel, and waved "Trump 2020" flags.

•Meanwhile in Kansas, Trump supporters moved into the statehouse. And in Georgia, the Secretary of State was reportedly evacuated.

As Trump's speech concluded, a group of about two dozen people moved in on the U.S. Capitol as debate over certifying the election was taking place inside. Several flash-bang grenades were launched. A stretcher was seen being taken through the crowd as tensions flared. Behind them, a huge throng continued to swell, with a reporter estimating more than 1,000 pushing up against the inauguration stage set up outside the Capitol building.

The crowd soon broke through security fencing and breached the building. The Capitol was locked down and Pence was evacuated. 

Terry Gainer, former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police who also served as the Senate’s sergeant-at arms, described Wednesday’s protests as unprecedented in four decades in law enforcement.

“It’s dangerous,” Gainer said. “This is a much more hateful crowd incited by the president, himself. It’s definitely something new in our business.”