As chaos erupts at Capitol, officials lambaste Trump for rhetoric that fanned flames

Congress members urged the president to condemn the violence.

January 6, 2021, 8:16 PM

Members of Congress and former White House officials are criticizing the president and calling on him to stop the violence after pro-Trump supporters and protesters breached the Capitol building Wednesday in a stunning scene.

"Donald Trump and his enablers are responsible for inciting this violence," Rep. Marilyn Strickland, D-Wa., told ABC News. The chaos erupted after Trump addressed the crowd and as Congress was in the process of certifying former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential win.

PHOTO: Supporters of President Donald Trump protest in the US Capitol's Rotunda, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.
Supporters of President Donald Trump protest in the US Capitol's Rotunda, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

"President Trump incited his followers to violence," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Senate Democratic whip, said. "They stormed the Capitol and stopped the House and Senate in session. We do not know at this point the extent of the damage or injuries they have caused."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called the scene "armed insurrection" that was "fueled by the President" and his enablers.

Republican members of Congress also spoke out.

"What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States," Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said in a statement. "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. They will be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. That will be their legacy."

"You are not protecting the country. Where is the DC guard? You are done and your legacy will be a disaster," Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said, responding to an earlier tweet by President Trump.

"This is a coup attempt," Kinzinger added.

Last month, Trump teased Wednesday's protests in Washington D.C., pushing the Senate to not certify the election for Biden. "Be there, will be wild!" Trump tweeted. He has mentioned the rally, which he addressed, on other occasions as well.

During his speech at the rally, Trump said that he hoped Vice President Mike Pence would "do the right thing" and reject the results of the election, something he is not empowered to do and said in a statement that he would not do.

Trump, who repeatedly falsely said the election was rigged and stolen, also said "We will never give up, We will never concede." Trump lost the popular vote by some 7 million and the electoral vote by essentially the same margin he won the 2016 election, which he termed a "landslide."

Wednesday afternoon, protesters pushed ahead of barricades and a wall of police officers in riot gear to get into the building. A woman was fatally shot inside of the U.S. Capitol, a law enforcement official told ABC News.

Amid the violent protests, Trump took to Twitter to ask 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!"

PHOTO: A Trump supporter sits in the Senate Chamber on Jan. 06, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
A Trump supporter sits in the Senate Chamber on Jan. 06, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

Former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the president's tweet Wednesday was "not enough."

"He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home."

"Condemn this now," former White House communications director Alyssa Farah said on Twitter of Trump. "You are the only one they will listen to. For our country!"

In a minute-long video posted to Twitter shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday, Trump repeated falsehoods about the election and addressed the protesters, asking them to "go home in peace."

"We have to have peace. We have to have law and order," he said. "We love you, you're very special," he added. Twitter later removed the tweet with the video.

Rep. David Cicilline, D-RI, said Congress should impeach and convict President Trump for inciting his supporters to storm the Capitol.

"This is outrageous, and the president caused it. We should impeach and convict him tomorrow," he tweeted.

Trump advisor and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also placed blame on the president for the chaos that unfolded at the Capitol. "The president caused this protest to occur. He's the only one that can make it stop," the ABC News contributor said on ABC News Special Report.

Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy appealed to Trump to "appear on TV, condemn the violence and tell people to disband."

And South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called the protests "a national embarrassment."

"I support peaceful protests but not violence and destruction. People need to leave the Capitol now!" he tweeted.

In a joint statement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called on Trump to demand that "all protestors leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately."

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy called the protesters' actions "unacceptable and un-American."

"It has got to stop," he tweeted.

PHOTO: Police officers stand guard as supporters of President Donald Trump gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2021.
Police officers stand guard as supporters of President Donald Trump gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2021.
Leah Millis/Reuters

During a news conference in Delaware, Biden called on Trump to "demand an end to this siege."

"The words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is," Biden said. "At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite."

Former President Bill Clinton also responded to the "unprecedented assault on our Capitol." In a statement, he said it was "fueled by more than four years of poison politics spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in our system, and pitting Americans against one another."

"The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost," he continued.

Former President Barack Obama said in a statement the violence was a "great dishonor and shame for our nation" that was "incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election." He called on Republican leaders to "choose reality."

The White House has not responded to ABC News' requests for comment.

ABC News' Luke Barr, Ben Gittleson, Rick Klein, Mike Levine, Quinn Scanlan, Benjamin Siegel and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.

This report was featured in the Thursday, Jan. 7, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

"Start Here" offers a straightforward look at the day's top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, the ABC News app or wherever you get your podcasts.

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