WASHINGTON — A police officer has died from injuries suffered as President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol as top Democrats have called for the president to be removed for “inciting” the riot.
The rampage that has shocked the world and left the country on edge has forced the resignations of three top Capitol security officials over the failure to stop the breach.
It’s also led lawmakers to demand a review of operations and an FBI briefing over what they called a “terrorist attack.”
And it’s prompting a broader reckoning over Trump’s tenure in office and what comes next for a torn nation.
Three House Democrats are planning to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump on Monday, meaning the chamber could potentially vote on his removal from office by midweek, according two people familiar with the planning.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet said whether the House will vote on impeachment, and the caucus is meeting at noon to discuss the idea after pro-Trump supporters ransacked the Capitol on Wednesday.
But if leadership does decide to move forward, they could vote on articles of impeachment drafted Wednesday by Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Ted Lieu of California. They are expected to be introduced Monday, said the people, who were granted anonymity to discuss the planning.
The articles say Trump “willfully made statements that encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol.”
Trump condemned the “heinous attack” on the Capitol on Thursday night, acknowledged he would not be in office after Jan. 20 — without mentioning President-Elect Joe Biden by name — and said he would cooperate in a peaceful transition of power.
But he also told his followers that “our incredible journey is only just beginning,” a phrase that some observers found ominous.
And he has announced he will not attend Biden’s inauguration, without saying what his plans are for that day.
The U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that Officer Brian D. Sicknick was injured “while physically engaging with protesters” during the Wednesday riot. He is the fifth person to die because of the Capitol protest and violence.
During struggling at the Capitol, Sicknick, 42, was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, two law enforcement officials said. The officials could not discuss the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
His family said in a statement Friday that Sicknick wanted to be a police officer his entire life. He served in the New Jersey Air National Guard before joining the Capitol Police in 2008.
“Many details regarding Wednesday’s events and the direct causes of Brian’s injuries remain unknown, and our family asks the public and the press to respect our wishes in not making Brian’s passing a political issue,” the family said.
Protesters were urged by Trump during a rally near the White House earlier Wednesday to head to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers were scheduled to confirm Biden’s presidential victory. The mob swiftly broke through police barriers, smashed windows and paraded through the halls, sending lawmakers into hiding.
Twitter bans issued
Twitter says it is banning President Donald Trump from its platform, citing “risk of further incitement of violence.”
The social media giant said Friday: “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
Trump was locked out of his account on his preferred social medial platform for 12 hours earlier this week after a violent mob loyal to him stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to stop Congress from affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Trump posted a video on Twitter calling them “very special” people and saying he loved them.
Twitter has also banned Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell as part of a purge of QAnon accounts following the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of violent Trump supporters.
Social media companies have been under intensified pressure to crack down on hate speech after Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol.
Dozens of QAnon social media accounts were hyping up Jan. 6 in the days leading up to a Washington, D.C., rally for Trump, expressing hope that President-elect Joe Biden’s victory would be overturned.
Twitter said in an email statement Friday: “Given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behavior in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content.”
The company says that when it determines a group or campaign is engaged in “coordinated harmful activity,” it may suspend accounts that it finds primarily encourages that behavior.
Calls for Senators to resign
The third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate is calling on Republican Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz to resign, arguing that their objections to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory “incited and supported the violent mob that attacked the Capitol.”
Sen. Patty Murray of Seattle said Friday that there can be “no normalizing or looking away from what played out before our eyes this week.”
Cruz, of Texas, and Hawley, of Missouri, were at the forefront of congressional efforts to object to the certification of Biden’s win over President Donald Trump. A violent mob stormed the Capitol as the process of objecting was underway, creating mayhem that left five people dead. Trump spoke at a large rally near the White House before the siege began.
Another Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, called on Hawley and Cruz to be held “in contempt, basically, for insurrection and high crimes.”
He stopped short of saying Hawley and Cruz should be expelled from the Senate. But he said action should be taken to prevent “anyone with blind political ambition to supersede the protection and defense of our country.”
Hawley and Cruz didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
A Republican West Virginia state lawmaker has been federally charged for entering a restricted area of the U.S. Capitol after he livestreamed himself rushing into the building with a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters.
Ken Kohl, a top deputy federal prosecutor in Washington, announced the case against state Del. Derrick Evans on a call in which he presented dozens of new charges against members of the crowd that violently stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.
He appeared before a federal judge in Huntington, W.Va., on Friday afternoon after being arrested, news outlets reported. If convicted, he faces up to a year and a half in federal prison for two misdemeanors: entering a restricted area and disorderly conduct.
Federal Magistrate Judge Cheryl Eifert released him on his own recognizance. Wearing a hoodie and a face mask to protect against the coronavirus, Evans did not answer reporters’ questions as he left the courthouse and quickly got into a vehicle.
His lawyer, John Bryan, said in an email that he hadn’t seen the complaint against Evans and couldn’t comment.
Television station WSAZ posted a video on Twitter showing FBI agents escorting the handcuffed lawmaker from a home.
Supporters of President Donald Trump have harangued Sen. Lindsey Graham at an airport, accusing the South Carolina Republican of being a “traitor” for laying blame on the Capitol Hill siege at the president’s feet.
Videos posted on Twitter show a crowd heckling Graham as he awaited a flight at Washington’s Reagan Airport on Friday. Graham is flanked by police officers.
One woman says he’s a “garbage human being.”
Graham has been one of Trump’s most steadfast supporters but said this week that he wouldn’t support fellow Republicans’ efforts to stall certification of Joe Biden’s victory. On the Senate floor Wednesday, Graham said “count me out” of the effort, which failed.
On Thursday, Graham told reporters that Trump’s actions had been the “problem” in the Capitol Hill violence, calling the matter a “self-inflicted wound.”
Other GOP lawmakers who opposed the certification challenge, including Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, have also been harassed by Trump backers unwilling to accept the election’s results.
One protester, a woman from California, was shot to death by Capitol Police, and there were dozens of arrests. Three other people died after “medical emergencies” related to the breach.
Despite Trump’s repeated claims of voter fraud, election officials and his former attorney general have said there were no election problems on a scale that would change the outcome.
All the states have certified their results as fair and accurate, by Republican and Democratic officials alike.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said news of the police officer’s death was “gut-wrenching.”
“None of this should have happened,” Sasse said in a statement. “Lord, have mercy.”
Sicknick had returned to his division office after the incident and collapsed, the statement said. He was taken to a local hospital where he died late Thursday.
Two House Democrats on committees overseeing the Capitol police budgets said those responsible need to be held to answer for the “senseless” death.
“We must ensure that the mob who attacked the People’s House and those who instigated them are held fully accountable,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Ct., and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. in a statement.
Pelosi has spoken to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about preventing Trump from initiating military actions or a nuclear strike.
Pelosi said in a statement to colleagues that she spoke with Gen. Mark Milley “to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”
She said, the situation of “this unhinged President could not be more dangerous.”
Pelosi is meeting with the House Democratic caucus today to consider impeachment proceedings against the president.
Earlier Thursday, Pelosi said any remaining day with the president in power could be “a horror show for America.” Likewise, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the attack on the Capitol was “an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president,” and Trump must not stay in office “one day” longer.
Pelosi and Schumer called for invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to force Trump from office before the inauguration on Jan. 20.
Schumer said he and Pelosi tried to call Vice-President Mike Pence early Thursday to discuss that option but were unable to connect with him.
At least one Republican lawmaker joined the effort. The procedure allows for the vice-president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare the president unfit for office. The vice-president then becomes acting president.
Pelosi said if the president’s Cabinet does not swiftly act, the House may proceed to impeach Trump.
Two Republicans who led efforts to challenge the election results, Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, faced angry peers in the Senate. Cruz defended his objection to the election results as “the right thing to do” as he tried unsuccessfully to have Congress launch an investigation. In the House, Republican leaders Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana joined in the failed effort to overturn Biden’s win by objecting to the Electoral College results.
With tensions high, the Capitol shuttered and lawmakers not scheduled to return until the inauguration, an uneasy feeling of stalemate settled over a main seat of national power as Trump remained holed up at the White House.
The social media giant Facebook banned the president from its platform and Instagram for the duration of Trump’s final days in office, if not indefinitely, citing his intent to stoke unrest. Twitter had silenced him the day for 12 hours.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said “the shocking events” make it clear Trump “intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power.”
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, under pressure from Schumer, Pelosi and other congressional leaders, was forced to resign. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for and received the resignation of the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate, Michael Stenger, effective immediately. Paul Irving, the longtime Sergeant at Arms of the House, also resigned.
Sund had defended his department’s response to the storming of the Capitol, saying officers had “acted valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions.”
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser called the police response “a failure.”
Lawmakers from both parties pledged to investigate and questioned whether a lack of preparedness allowed a mob to occupy and vandalize the building. The Pentagon and Justice Department had been rebuffed when they offered assistance.
Black lawmakers, in particular, noted the way the mostly white Trump supporters were treated.
Newly elected Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said if “we, as Black people did the same things that happened … the reaction would have been different, we would have been laid out on the ground.”
The protesters ransacked the place, taking over the House area and Senate chamber and waving Trump, American and Confederate flags. Outside, they scaled the walls and balconies.
Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a former police chief, said it was “painfully obvious” that Capitol police “were not prepared.”