Wednesday will go down as one of the darkest days in American history.
It was all egged on by a sitting president, who has been unable to accept losing his bid for reelection and who persuaded millions of his followers to buy into baseless, debunked and disproved conspiracy theories.
The result: A mob violently storming and occupying the U.S. Capitol for hours, while staffers and lawmakers were evacuated or hid in fear. The sitting U.S. vice president was also rushed from the floor of the Senate and taken to a secure location after criticisms were tweeted from his boss.
Here’s a timeline of how things unfolded:
1 p.m. ET A joint session of Congress begins to tally the Electoral College votes, with Vice President Pence presiding. As it begins, Pence releases a letter to Congress declaring that he does not have unilateral authority to overturn the election results.
1:11 p.m. President Trump’s speech to supporters on the Ellipse outside the White House ends. During the roughly hourlong speech, Trump urges his followers to march to the Capitol and says at one point, “You will never take back our country with weakness.” Trump says he will be there with them but never joins the crowd.
1:13 p.m. Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar files the first objection to state Electoral College certification, from his home state. Democrat Joe Biden won the state by 10,457 votes. The objection needs to be joined by a U.S. senator, which it is. The objection could then be debated for up to two hours. Republican House members and senators threaten to do this for up to half a dozen states. The tactic amounts to not more than a delay, however, as the end result will be President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris declared the winners — again.
2:07 p.m. The mob of Trump supporters breach the steps on the east side of the Capitol.
2:16 p.m. The first scenes of the rioters inside the building.
Protesters have breached the Capitol. They’re outside the Senate chamber pic.twitter.com/I021tKliUD
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 6, 2021
2:24 p.m. Trump tweets that Vice President “Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.” During Trump’s speech earlier on the Ellipse, he also targeted Pence, saying, “We’re going to have to fight much harder and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. If he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution.”
2:33 p.m. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, one of the senators who said he would sign on to objections of accepting state certification, sends out a fundraising email. He asks people to “stand with” him in his fight to “reject electors.” An aide to Cruz then told Politico that the email was an automated message and that he was “dismayed” by what was happening. “He would not send this out,” the aide said.
I just received this fundraising text from Cruz. pic.twitter.com/8f02Whw8sb
— Mark Salter (@MarkSalter55) January 6, 2021
2:38 p.m. For the first time, Trump tells his supporters to be “peaceful.” “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement,” he tweets. “They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
2:42 p.m. The House and Senate go into lockdown.
3 p.m. Gunshots heard. Capitol Police shot a woman, who later died. Eventually, it is confirmed that four people in total died related to the events.
3:08 p.m. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., confirms reports of “shots fired” on Fox News and says he called the president, urging him to call for calm.
3:13 p.m. Trump puts out another tweet “asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order… .”
I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
3:36 p.m. The White House press secretary says on Twitter that the National Guard was on its way at Trump’s direction. A Defense Department official later said the guard was authorized “days ago,” but it turns out the guard had only been authorized to work with police at intersections and at Metro stations. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said she asked for more help from the guard as tensions rose, but the White House was late in responding.
3:48 p.m. Reports of pipe bombs being discovered. Metropolitan Police later confirm that they were found at the headquarters of both the Republican and Democratic national committees and destroyed by law enforcement.
4:06 p.m. President-elect Biden speaks, calls what happened “an unprecedented assault” on democracy and labels it an “insurrection.” “At their best,” Biden said, “the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.” He urges Trump to “step up,” go on national television and “end this siege.”
4:16 p.m. Democrat Jon Ossoff is declared the winner of the last remaining Georgia Senate race, effectively giving control of the U.S. Senate to Democrats once Ossoff’s win is certified and he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will act as a tiebreaker, are sworn in.
BREAKING: Democrat Jon Ossoff wins election to U.S. Senate from Georgia, beating incumbent Sen. David Perdue. #APracecall at 4:16 p.m. EST. #GAelection https://t.co/lGfinjTqT4
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) January 6, 2021
4:17 p.m. Trump tweets a video downplaying the events of day and sympathizing with his followers. “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,” he says. He then tells them to “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
6:01 p.m. Trump repeats his comments from his earlier video, this time in written tweet form. Twitter earlier disallowed replies, likes or retweets of the video and then did the same with the written tweet.
7:02 p.m. Twitter locks President Trump’s account for 12 hours, calling for the deletion of three tweets — the video, follow-up tweet and the one criticizing Pence at 2:24 p.m. It threatens to remove him from the platform altogether if “future violations” occur. On Thursday, Facebook announced that it was banning Trump “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy. https://t.co/k6OkjNG3bM
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 7, 2021
8 p.m. In a show of defiance, Congress returns to the Capitol complete the opening and counting of electors.
8:10 p.m. Pence speaks on Senate floor: “To those who wreaked havoc today: You did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins, and this is still the people’s house. As we reconvene, the world will again witness the resilience of our democracy.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calls the rioters “thugs” and notes, “They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed.” On the House floor, Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared, “Our purpose will be accomplished.”
8:48 p.m. Kelly Loeffler, the Georgia senator who lost the night before to Democrat Raphael Warnock, drops her objection to the certification of electors. She’s one of multiple Republican senators who previously said they would object to accepting state certifications and but then reversed course.
10:14 p.m. Senate rejects objection to Arizona’s electors and accepts them, 93-6.
11:13 p.m. House rejects Arizona objection as well.
12:14 a.m. Republican Scott Perry of Pennsylvania objects to Pennsylvania’s certification; it is sustained by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley.
12:41 a.m. The Senate, skipping the allotted debate, rejects objection to Pennsylvania slate of electors, 92-7.
3:11 a.m. House rejects objection to Pennsylvania certification, as well, 282-138. But that was not before fisticuffs reportedly nearly break out between members an hour earlier.
Fight nearly breaks out between Dem TX Rep Colin Allred & GOP MD Rep Andy Harris in rear of the chamber as House debates PA slate of electors. Allred is former linebacker for the Tennessee Titans. Nerves are utterly frayed here. Tempers are shot.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) January 7, 2021
3:45 a.m. Pence affirms Biden-Harris won: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. of the state of Delaware has received for President of the United States, 306 votes. Donald J. Trump of the state of Florida has received 232 votes.”
Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ victory early Thursday, the end of a long day and night marked by chaos and violence in Washington — in which pro-Trump extremists staged a violent insurrection inside the U.S. Capitol. pic.twitter.com/yg5kOFShdS
— NPR (@NPR) January 7, 2021
3:49 a.m. Trump puts out a statement on Twitter via his social media manager, pledging an “orderly transition” on Jan. 20, but continues to sow doubt about the election’s accuracy, saying he will continue his “fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted.”
…fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”
— Dan Scavino (@DanScavino) January 7, 2021