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An unprecedented breach on the Capitol

Rioters overtaking Congress make history in a move against lawmakers attempting to certify election results

An unprecedented breach on the Capitol

Supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Following a rally with President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., to protest the election results, rioters breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in an unprecedented domestic attack on the seat of the U.S. government. As rioters forced their way into the building, outnumbered Capitol Police evacuated lawmakers, staff, and media, including WORLD reporter Harvest Prude.

The Capitol hasn’t faced such a security breach since the British stormed and burned it in the War of 1812. But that attack wasn’t from American citizens. Police have evacuated the building several times over the years for suspicious packages, and shooting incidents have previously occurred inside the Capitol. In 1954, Puerto Rican nationalists shot and injured five lawmakers on the House floor, but police, visitors, and congressional staff quickly subdued them. A man in 1998 shot and killed two Capitol Police officers. 

But historians believe Capitol Police have never been overwhelmed by a mob like the one on Wednesday. 

It was an extraordinary day from morning to evening, beginning with Trump’s own vice president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, repudiating the president’s efforts to overturn the election. By nightfall, many Republicans were condemning the president for encouraging a march on the Capitol. Globally, leaders were shocked by the chaotic images from Washington, prompting statements of concern even from the head of NATO. 

Just as rioters were amassing outside the Capitol, McConnell spoke against an effort from Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and others to challenge the certification of the Electoral College.

“We’re debating a step that has never been taken in American history, whether Congress should overrule the voters and overturn a presidential election,” McConnell said. “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.” Vice President Mike Pence, too, said he was unable to unilaterally halt the certification of the Electoral College, infuriating the president. 

Rioters, including some QAnon leaders and at least one carrying the Christian flag, broke through to enter the Capitol and take control of the House and Senate floors, halting the certification of the election results. Security rushed Pence out of the room. Rioters entered abandoned offices that lawmakers and staffers had fled. They appeared to have looted congressional property and posted videos on social media.

After several hours of mobs seemingly in control of the building, National Guardsmen and additional law enforcement arrived, and the crowd outside the building began to disperse. But lawmakers remained in secure locations into the evening. 

One civilian died after being shot inside the Capitol, according to police. Authorities discovered and detonated a pipe bomb at Republican National Committee headquarters near the Capitol, as well as another suspicious device at Democratic National Committee headquarters. The Washington, D.C., mayor instituted a 6 p.m. curfew. 

Per federal statute, Congress’ certification of the electoral results must happen on Jan. 6. As the sun began to set, lawmakers in safe, undisclosed locations, committed to continuing the process. 

“At this hour our democracy is under an unprecedented assault,” said President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday afternoon. “This is not dissent, this is disorder. … It borders on sedition and it must end now.” 

Trump eventually spoke to the protesters in a video recorded late in the afternoon. 

“We had an election that was stolen from us … but you have to go home now. We have to have peace, we have to have law and order,” he said. He added, “We love you.” 

Some congressional Republicans condemned the violence and blamed Trump, who had encouraged protesters at the rally to march on the Capitol. 

“We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol and … we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,” Trump said, although he did not join the protesters walking from the White House to the Capitol.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called the Capitol breach an “insurrection incited by the president.” Others also critiqued Trump.

“President Trump is responsible now for unleashing mayhem,” tweeted Southern Seminary President Al Mohler, a WORLD board member who had endorsed Trump in the 2020 election. 

The swift realignment of some Republicans against the president, the apparent Republican loss of control of the Senate overnight, combined with the unforgettable images from the Capitol, made for a remarkable day in American history. 

“This is not how we peacefully transfer power,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., in a statement.

Emily Belz

Emily Belz

Emily is a senior reporter for WORLD Magazine. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and previously reported for the The New York Daily News, The Indianapolis Star, and Philanthropy magazine. Emily resides in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @emlybelz.


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  • Joshua
    Posted: Wed, 01/06/2021 11:00 pm

    Thank you for choosing the term "rioters" rather than "Trump-supporters."  The Washington Times has reported that facial recognition software has confirmed the identities of two Antifa supporters who were inside the Senate chambers and one other person known to attend BLM and climate change events in the West.

    -Sarah Clifton

    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 09:13 am

    Sarah, the Washington Times sadly did not do due diligence in confirming this. They ran a clickbait headline off a rumor. Their actual headline: "Facial recognition firm claims Antifa infiltrated Trump protesters who stormed Capitol."

    There were several reliable reporters on the scene. I haven't heard any reliable source say that these were Antifa. The photos sure don't indicate Antifa.

    The scant "evidence" Washington Times cites is as follows:

    "One has a tattoo that indicates he is a Stalinist sympathizer. Many Antifa members promote anarchy through violence and want the end of America in favor of a Stalinist-state. “No more USA at all” is a protest chant.

    "XRVision also has identified another man who, while not known to have Antifa links, is someone who shows up at climate and Black Lives Matter protests in the West."

    Regardless, right wing or left wing, rioters should not be allowed to invade the capitol and shut down the people's business.

  • My Two Cents
    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 09:29 am

    I know many, many Trump supporters who would blend in easily with rioters, and through the power of suggestion participate in  this. There is a guy who lives on my street, who flies a Trump flag that says f your feelings. Peaceful protester? What about when he races his noisy motorcycle up and down the street? My rights! Trump supporters hosted a Trump train rally in my city which was a parade of large pick ups, flying large flags including the Confederate flag out of protest. These people also vocally support open carry. It was terrifying to see a long line of vehicles revving engines, looking threatening. The meanest people I know are Trump supporters. Now, certainly not ALL Trump supporters are violent and obnoxious, but this is what they wanted, (to reclaim a stolen election) and they can blame anti fascist all they want, but the bottom line is, they showed up to protest and it turned violent. I blame Donald J Trump 100%. By the way, has anyone seen him lately? Where's Waldo?

    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 10:47 am

    Wow - I don't know what circles you run in but most of the people that I know of who voted for Trump are kind, loving and responsible people.   I'm sure that some are mean but I don't see that from the majority.  There are some very frustrated and vocal ones but I just haven't experienced "meaness" (even though I am sure that some are.)  However, I have experienced a lot of meaness from Biden supporters - mostly verbal with A LOT of name calling with much patronizing and condescending speech.  And, of course, the desire to see babies ripped limb from limb in their mother's wombs indicates some deep seated hatred inside.

  • My Two Cents
    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 12:27 pm

    Well, Becky, I don't "run" in those circles, but I live in a territory of Texas that is deep red. In other words, they don't have to be so "in your face" as they are. Trump scored 75 percent to 20% for Biden. A large majority of people are kind, church going people. From church members, I have heard every justification in the book for voting for Trump. He was ordained of God to save America. A Christian who doesn't vote for Trump will have to answer to God. A vote for third party is a wasted vote/a vote for evil/a vote for Biden. We're not electing a pastor. Policy over character. Trump is the most prolife president we've ever had (again, without evidence except he spoke at the March for Life convention.) Trump fights back. Trump isn't a politician". Etc etc. And yes, there is plenty of meanness from both sides. Biden's people are more apt to tell you what is wrong with Trump rather than why Biden is better. America went down the chute as soon as the evangelical leaders formally endorsed Trump, which inexplicably equated Christianity with trumpism. Even on this platform, writers expressed dismay with Trump's anti-Christlike behavior and they had their salvation questioned. John Piper was accused of being a heretic because he was not going to vote for either one. I expect people of the world to act that way, but not people of faith. Christians who were not electing a pastor, but a president, didn't get either. 

  • not silent
    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 12:43 pm

    I know Trump supporters who are brothers and sisters in Christ and are intelligent and thoughtful  I know others who have posted things online that seem to promote civil war and/or succession.

    I know Biden supporters who are brothers and sisters in Christ and are intelligent and thoughtful.  (Some of them supported the protests earlier this summer but NOT the violence that went with some of the protests.) However, I've seen comments by Biden supporters that seemed to call for violence.

    Bottom line is this: people are complicated. Groups of people are VERY complicated.  We are capable of great good AND of great evil.  None of us is perfect, and we all need the saving blood of Christ. It's not accurate or helpful to assume that any group of human beings is all bad or all good and any human institution as "THE problem" or "THE solution."  We are ALL part of the problem; but, with God's grace, we can choose to be part of the solution.  Thus, I hope we can all agree that we need to repent as a nation and as individuals and seek the Lord, his truth, and his wisdom.

  • AlanE
    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 10:01 am

    Regardless of whether or not a small handful of Antifa supporters infiltrated the pro-Trump crowd yesterday, the violence and destruction was overwhelmingly perpetrated by Trump's own supporters. They, along with their leader, own the violence and insurrection that happened yesterday. If it wasn't for making a martyr of Donald Trump, I would fully support Congress spending the next 10 days doing nothing but impeaching the president.

    We are all sinful at heart. We are all prone to anger. We all need to repent. May it begin with the body of Christ.

  • Janet B
    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 10:04 am

    I do not want to minimize the fear that Ms. Prude felt as she was going through the unknown yesterday, but could we have some reporting that doesn't smack of bias here, please?

    Last night, I discovered some Christian coverage of the events outside the Capitol.

    America Stands:

    Around 1:04:00, and following, you will see live the "storming" of the Capitol....steps.  At 1:23:52, you will see live coverage of the crowd...still milling around on the Capitol steps!  In Part 2 of this coverage (both parts had been live during the day, but I was watching the recorded, unedited tape),,    at around 2:46, there is more live coverage of outside the Capitol. The reporter makes note that the crowd has done nothing more than chant and yell since rushing up the Capitol steps.  All pictures show people just walking around peacefully and casually.  He also makes mention throughout the 2 hours that he is on the Senate side of the Capitol.  The other side is off-limits, being prepared for the inauguration.

    How and WHO broke into the building is unknown to me.  But note: it was the House of Representatives that they breached.  Earlier this morning, I saw on America Stands some evidence that the ones who actually went in and created the havoc were antifa infiltrators.  I know that on the Senate side of the Capitol that I was seeing, no one was climbing a wall.  You can watch it for yourself on the above references.

    It is nothing unusual that the main stream media are blaming the President for the "riots" (though nothing was destroyed), but to see WORLD missing the point of the protest/march, and equating this with the British invasion in the War of 1812 is sad, very sad.

    I thought you guys were investigative.  Find out the truth.  

  • My Two Cents
    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 10:13 am

    Janet, there was quite a bit of damage, namely broken windows and doors. People were climbing walls and trespassing in the chambers. Are you really ok with what happened? People died, just so you know. You seem to think a hoard of people were exchanging daisies and singing Kumbaya.

    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 10:36 am

    Thanks for posting another side.  I will have to watch this later today.

    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 01:08 pm

    Christian coverage should, first of all, tell the truth.

    Things were destroyed and stolen. Security was breached. People died. Staffers and journalists, in addition to elected officials, were traumatized. Capitol police were injured. Secret service had to rush Mike Pence to safety.

    And ... so far, I've seen no proof that Antifa was involved.

    Our side is just as capable of moral evil as the other side. It's why we must always guard our hearts and choose our leaders wisely.

  • not silent
    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 01:08 pm

    I respectfully disagree that "nothing was destroyed."  Three people DIED! I would think that would concern anyone who claims to be pro life!  At any rate, is an incident considered a "riot" only if things are literally destroyed? 

    Do you truly not see how horrifiying it was to see the building that is literally the seat of our democracy beseiged and breached by a crowd, who pushed back security and temporarily prevented our legally elected representatives from doing their jobs? (Perhaps you saw video which did not show these things, but there was plenty of OTHER video that DID show it.) Based on their own eyewitness accounts, people who were inside literally feared for their lives, particularly when it sounded like shots were being fired into the Senate chambers. 

    Before all this happened, I saw for myself social media posts by Trump supporters calling for civil war and secession. I'm not part of "the media," but I am a follower of Jesus Christ. Even if everyone who was there was not actively participating in the violence, I viewed the overall event as a riot AND an insurrection.  

  • JK
    Posted: Fri, 01/08/2021 05:13 pm

    There are at least twenty different videos from the Capitol showing violence. Fights inside, fights inside.  Photos of overturned desks, of smashed windows, of bullet-holes in double-paned glass.  World has a first-person report from one of their trusted staff who was literally there.

    But you saw "a" video.  

    And you say THEY need to do the research.

  • Blessings Unlimited
    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 11:09 am


    Whoever controls the information, controls the perception, and subsequently the outcome of any event. This was told to me by a Chinese exile taking refuge in the United States from the Chinese Communist Party as an expression of the primary weapon of their regime. There were a couple of thousand at the event around me. 

    I was there and can tell you I witnessed a very peaceful but passionate group that made their way to the capitol building. None of the reports I've heard are eyewitness interviews, they're all commentaries from a distance. They're labeling the whole group terrorists and armed seditionists because of the actions of about 30 attendees.  There were somewhere between 500K to 1M attendees, a small fraction of those that agree and wanted to be there. Make no mistake, those who broke into the building clearly made a very BAD decision. 

    But My goodness, almost everything I personally experienced was about the most peaceful protest I could imagine. Full families with kids carrying American flags. Everyday Americans trying to do something since the courts seem to have done nothing.  Those cases, if taken up, may very well have proved to be false fraudulent claims but the proof was never examined and so out of despair, these average people chose to travel great distances to do something rather than nothing.

    But now I'm dismayed seeing the spin first hand and it is immobilizing and despairing. The only time people pushed on police that I saw was to either shake their hands and thank them for being there or, at the very front, to push to be closer to the capitol building.  Hit only got violent when the police started using pepper spray, noise bombs to intimidate and eventually tear gas and bullets.  In one of several conversations with the police on the way to the capitol, they were saying that there were some among us that they knew would go too far, a common experience in a predominantly peaceful gathering of this size. To characterize everyone as ignorant right-wing radical terrorists is ludicrous and so misleading.  There were by and large patriots standing up for their country by exercising their constitutional right to protest peacefully. A few got carried away and clearly went too far but you didn't see assaults on the police themselves other than to push past them, the overturning and burning of cars, broken private property, fires, or any of the other telltale signs of anarchy exhibited by Antifa and BLM protests, so please don't lump us in with them so unfairly.  The police allowed these other groups to overtake sections of cities but police fired on this crowd with pepper spray and incendiary bombs and eventually tear gas and bullets. I actually agree that the police were doing their job and support them. On the contrary, we were chanting, "Support our Blue" on the way to the capital.  Interactions of cordiality, conversations, and camaraderie with the local enforcement officers were common and frequent.

    If you watched any of the hearings of actual eyewitnesses to these elections in these contested states, which were almost completely hidden from the public, as well as professional testimony on the impossibilities of the outcome, You may have been there with us. If you would like to see the hearings, I suggest you search for Epoch Times, a news source developed by refugees of the CCP living in exile in the United States trying to expose the insidious and undermining, subversive war being waged against the United States by their previous captors. I know general public opinion is that this is largely conspiracy theory, but if you take the time to look at the personal testimonies of those who are actually present, you may have a different view. And by doing so, you will have done more than all the courts in this country who dismissed the proof wholesale by dismissing the court cases for procedural reasons and not on content.

    When a people can no longer count on our legal system to step up and give a fair hearing and our elected officials don't help to look at the evidence, we are no longer a country that can count on the rule of law for justice and things become lawless as citizens have to step in where the courts won't.

    Many who I spoke to said they would not even be there if the courts had actually examined the evidence and considered the eyewitness testimonies.  But they merely dismissed those who were giving sworn testimony.  Average Americans, with everything to lose by standing up to the injustice and fraud they witnessed firsthand. But they didn't! And so what choice do we have other than protest?  Our founding fathers and Patriots didn't saddle for that, so should we?

    If you really want to know the truth, you cannot trust the major networks that are so agenda-driven. Watch the hearings and make your own decision. If you are truly interested in the truth, watch just one because they all showed the same pattern.  But don't remain ignorant of these personal and professional testimonies of those who risked their lively hood and in some cases lives by giving testimony to expose their personal experience of fraud being carried out on this most important institution of our democracy! You can't join the majority and say there is no proof if you have not looked at the proof yourself.  We can disagree in peace but we cannot ignore the evidence in a nation built on the stabilizing factor of the rule of law over violence.  Look up Epoch Times, not because I value their opinion above all others, only that it was the only portal I found to see these hearings for myself.  I respectfully request you to take some time to have an honest look for yourself.


    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 11:50 am

    "Whoever controls the information, controls the perception, and subsequently the outcome of any event." Exactly! "Social platforms remove video of Trump calling on protesters to leave the Capitol in peace." Facebook, Twitter Lock Trump Out of His Account for the First Time ( 
    In case you can't view the video, this is what President Trump said:

    “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever! 

    “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. 

    “We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us—from me, from you, from our country. 

    "This was a fraudulent election but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home, we love you, you’re very special. You’ve seen what happens, you’ve seen the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home, and go home in peace.”

    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 01:14 pm

    Hannah, with due respect, World actually had two reporters on the scene. The Dispatch had at least two reporters there. The Washington Examiner had reporters there. There have been multiple eye witness reports of the riots.

    I know people who were there who weren't part of the mayhem. I believe you 100% that you weren't. But there definitely were pro-Trump factions egged on by the President, Trump Jr., and Giuliani, who threatened the security of our elected representatives. That was not patriotic.

    The senators made it clear last night that they don't think the election was stolen. Ted Cruz won't say it was stolen. Josh Hawley wouldn't even defend his objection. They've been promulgating these lies, and now people who actually believed them acted on them.

  • not silent
    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 02:23 pm

    For Blessings Unlimited:  I agree with you that the media outlets are biased and that people must use discernment about all reporting.  But I'm confused that you would make this point and then seem to encourage us to trust The Epoch Times above our own US court system and legally elected or appointed officials. (i.e., isn't The Epoch Times ALSO part of "the media"?)  

    As I said in another comment, it was not the MEDIA which decided the cases about election fraud; it was our own US courts and our own elected and appointed officials (some of whom were directly appointed by Mr. Trump).  It was not the media which certified each state's electors but our own US State officials.  It was not the media who voted last night to confirm the electoral votes but our legally elected representatives. 

    I agree that we shouldn't trust the media. But they didn't decide the outcome of this election. That was done by the voters and our legally elected and appointed representatives.   

    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 04:07 pm

    Blessings, thank you for your gentle and respectful words, reminding me of the courtesy and restraint that I witnessed (with sadness) in Vice President Mike Pence. His letter to the Joint Session of Congress reveals a godly person, Mike Pence’s Letter to Congress – READ IN FULL - Liberty Nation, just as your words reveal the same about you.

    You are indeed of "the tribe of Joseph" (from the fifth Anne of Green Gables book, Anne's House of Dreams). May your tribe increase and may you experience blessings unlimited.

  • My Two Cents
    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 01:32 pm

    Not Silent, thank you for offering words of wisdom, reconciliation and peace. I wish there was a love button for comments, because you would have plenty from me. You speak truth. I'm drawing in my horns a little bit now.

  • not silent
    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 02:33 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement. I do ultimately hope for reconcilation and peace among all believers. 

    Posted: Thu, 01/07/2021 03:50 pm

    My Two Cents, I lived in what is statistically the most red county in Central Illinois most of my life and have most recently moved to San Antonio.  I do agree with you that the "Trump Worship" atitude is disgraceful especially among our fellow Christ followers... however, I haven't found most of them to be "mean."  I voted 3rd party in the 2016 election and definitely their were some fellow believers and other Republicans in my life who very much disagreed with me and expressed that sometimes.  I did feel that President Trump proved himself over the past 4 years so I cast my vote for him (rather than another pro-life conservative 3rd party.)  Upon announcing that decision the verbal abuse and disdain that I was met with from the Biden voters in my life has been downright cruel.   

    Posted: Fri, 01/08/2021 03:09 pm

    Becky, many of my friends who are Trump supporters are also gracious and kind people.

  • JK
    Posted: Fri, 01/08/2021 05:10 pm

    I had made a commitment to avoid social media and the news for the 6th... I couldn't do anything about the electoral count anyway.  When a friend texted me about protestors attacking the Capitol I thought he was joking.

    But really, I shouldn't have been surprised.  For years, people have been telling Trump to denounce and distance himself from his fringe supporters, the QAnon crowd and the white supremacists. Such condemnations as he gave were always half-hearted and never heeded.  It should have been obvious that his more fanatic followers would take his words about a stolen election to mean that they should steal it back.

    Still.  There is something sacrosant about the Capitol that makes it shocking to think of protestors attacking it.