Terrorists invade the Capitol

Political tensions culminated in a destructive and deadly attack on our democracy.


Leah Millis

A mob of protesters storm the Capitol on the day Congress votes to certify the election.

In an unprecedented and deplorable event on January 6th, terrorists invaded the United States Capitol, damaging the shrine of American democracy. 

What began as a largely peaceful event in Washington D.C. soon descended into chaos as radical terrorists barged through the doors of the Capitol and made their way inside, seemingly unstoppable by the visibly unprepared Capitol Police. The extremists made their way into chambers of Congress, with some even sitting in the chair that Vice President Mike Pence occupied just minutes before he and the rest of Congress were evacuated. “Trump 2020” flags, Confederate flags, and QAnon gear ran rampant in the Capitol as the terrorists broke into the offices of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, stealing documents and leaving messages for political officials. In all, five people died, including a Capitol police officer. 

Before the invasion, both chambers of Congress had convened to fulfill their Constitutional duty of counting the electoral votes brought forth by the states, with many Congresspeople and Senators raising objections to the results from several swing states. Among them, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas objected to the votes from Arizona, calling on a commission to audit the votes although there were no irregularities or fraud found in any ballots across the country. His objection ultimately failed to pass both chambers as the Senate easily knocked it down with a 93-6 vote. 

As the Constitutionally-designated individual to oversee the counting process, Vice President Pence was placed in a difficult position; since the President, who has been vehemently claiming election fraud, was pressuring Pence in-person and through social media, many Trump supporters wanted the Vice President to overturn the votes, something he constitutionally cannot do. At a rally, Trump said, “Mike Pence, I hope you’re gonna stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country, and if you’re not I’m gonna be very disappointed in you, I will tell you right now.” 

Vice President Mike Pence presides over the counting of the Electoral College Votes on January 6, 2021. (Photo: AP)

Pence ultimately rejected such pleas and fulfilled his duty, certifying Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ win. As he went to the Capitol he released a statement reading, “It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.” 

Before the attack on the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, an ardent Trump supporter, gave a stunning rebuke of the President on the floor of the Senate. 

“I’ve served 36 years in the Senate. This will be the most important vote I’ve ever cast,” McConnell said. “The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. They’ve all spoken. If we overrule them, it will damage our republic forever… It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise American voters and overrule the court and the states,” McConnell continued. “I will not pretend such a vote will be a harmless protest gesture, while relying on others to do the right thing. I will vote to respect the people’s decision and defend our system of government as we know it.” 

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer offered similar remarks, but more sharply criticized the President and his enablers in Congress saying, “As we speak, half of our voters are being conditioned by the outgoing president to believe that when his party loses an election, the results must not be legitimate. As we speak, the eyes of the world are on this chamber questioning whether America is still the shining example of democracy, the shining city on the hill.” 

As we speak, the eyes of the world are on this chamber questioning whether America is still the shining example of democracy, the shining city on the hill.”

— Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Coming into January 6th, 12 GOP Senators were slated to object to the votes from several states; but after the Capitol attacks, many, including outgoing Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler and Hoosier senator Mike Braun backed down. 

 “The events that transpired have forced me to reconsider and I cannot now in good conscience object to certification of these electors. The violence, the lawlessness and siege of the halls of Congress are abhorrent and stand as a direct attack on what my objection was intended to protect, the sanctity of the American democratic process,” Loeffler said from the Senate floor.

Terrorists rage into the Capitol. (Photo: Reuters)

A little after 3:30 AM, nearly 13 hours after the attack, Biden and Harris were certified the winners of the election by Vice President Mike Pence, concluding the battle among Congressional members over the validity of the election. 

Although the election has been certified, the damage done to the Capitol must be looked at as the Capitol Police, one of the largest, most sophisticated, and most focused police departments in the nation, with a budget of $460 million, failed to adequately protect the building. But this has baffled many across the country. Hundreds of highly-equipped national guard troops were stationed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of peaceful protestors, while the largely white crowd of terrorists were able to make their way into the Capitol this past week, with no major military force in their way. This lack of preparation led to the resignation of the Senate Sergeant-in-arms and the Capitol Police Chief, with more expected to come. 

President Donald Trump at a rally outside the White House on January 6,2021. (Photo: AP)

Rather than accepting his defeat, President Trump further divided the nation and encouraged the crowd to walk to the Capitol on January 6th. He told them,”You. will never take back our country with weakness.”

After the attacks, he released a video asking supporters to go home, but telling them “we love you, you’re very special.” 

Senator Josh Hawley and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas also played a significant role in the bid to overturn the election and even sent out fundraising texts for their campaign to do so during the Capitol attacks. Our own Congresswoman, Jackie Walorski, voted to object to the results and Indiana Senator, Mike Braun, intended to do so as well, but backed down after the attacks. The South Bend Tribune published an editorial piece questioning their behavior, saying “Indiana Sen. Mike Braun’s change of heart about challenging an American election — an election deemed safe and secure by every reliable measure — was a case of too little, too late,” adding that “Walorski helped lend credence to unsubstantiated claims about widespread voter fraud. Those claims over the last two months further stoked anger and division and led to the frightening scenes that played out on Wednesday — scenes that more resembled a banana republic than a country often called the world’s greatest democracy.” Although most –if not all– GOP members have condemned the attacks, the influence of some Republicans on this act of terror cannot be overlooked. 

Walorski helped lend credence to unsubstantiated claims about widespread voter fraud”

— South Bend Tribune Editorial

Following the unfolding of events and the lack of leadership from the President, key members of the Trump administration submitted their letters of resignation. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, resigned saying, “It has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos also followed suit, as well as the White House Deputy Press Secretary, the Deputy National Security Advisor, White House Social Secretary, First Lady Chief of Staff, and others. 

Following the inauguration of President Biden, Congress introduced an article of impeachment against former President Trump. Now, the American people await the resolution to this ongoing saga.