The chaos in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday unfolded after President Donald Trump spent weeks whipping up his supporters with false allegations of fraud in the Nov. 3 election, culminating in a call to march to the building that represents U.S. democracy.
Democrats and some Republicans blamed Trump for inciting the violence on Wednesday.
"Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump," Jim Mattis, a former defense secretary under Trump, said in a statement.
Mattis added that while the Constitution and the nation will ‘overcome this stain," and the American people will unite, the president will "deservedly be left a man without a country.’
Senator Mitt Romney, a former Republican presidential nominee, called it an "insurrection incited by the president of the United States."
Romney began, "Mr. President, today was heartbreaking, and I was shaken to the core as I thought about the people I met in China and Russia and Afghanistan and Iraq and other places who yearned for freedom and who looked at this building and these shores as a place of hope. And I saw the images being broadcast around the world, and it breaks my heart."
Romney continued, taking aim at his Repulican colleagues, saying “ Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy. Fairly or not, they'll be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. That will be their legacy."
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Weeks have passed since the states completed certifying that Biden won by 306 votes in the Electoral College to Trump's 232, and Trump's extraordinary challenges to the result have failed in courts across the country.
Yet Trump's rally speech on Wednesday was filled with grievances and voter fraud allegations that have not been backed up with evidence.
He singled out several Republican lawmakers for criticism, including Romney and Representative Liz Cheney, while hailing as heroes those who have sided with him to stop the electoral votes from being certified.
Several times he also urged Pence to intervene. But while Trump was still speaking, Pence released a lengthy statement saying he would carry out his constitutional duty to certify the vote.
"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,” Pence wrote.
About an hour later he was being escorted from the chamber as a mob tried to break in.