With the storming of the Capitol Building by Trump supporters and Democrats taking the Senate majority, this week will go down as a special one in American history.
On Tuesday, Georgia voters took to the polls to vote in two runoff Senate elections. Republicans risked losing their majority in the Senate, and Democrats had an opportunity to control both chambers of Congress and the White House for the first time since 2010.
Late Tuesday night, it was announced that Rev. Raphael Warnock, who pastors at the church where Martin Luther King Jr. himself used to preach, defeated his Republican opponent, Kelly Loeffler. The race between Jon Ossoff and David Perdue was too close to call Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, Congress was set to count the electoral college votes. A typical formality in most elections. Donald Trump called on his VP to somehow stop this process. Vice President Mike Pence said that the Constitution did not permit him the power to unilaterally reject the results of the election. In more words or less, Pence finally has done what Trump will not and has admitted defeat.
The President took to Twitter to criticize Pence and said that, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution…”
Thousands of Trump supporters gathered outside the Capitol to protest the counting of the Electoral College votes. The President had encouraged protestors to come to D.C. this past Wednesday. Trump has perpetuated the belief that the election was “stolen” from him. Many top level officials who were appointed by Trump have assured the public that there was no widespread voter fraud.
Democrat and Republican election officials across the country have rejected the claim that there were enough illegal votes to change the outcome of the election. Courts all across the country, including the Supreme Court, have upheld the integrity of the 2020 election. That includes judges who were appointed by Donald Trump and confirmed by the Republican-majority Senate. Despite a lack of evidence, many believe the President was wronged and the election was rigged. At this point, even Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence have accepted the results of the 2020 election.
Trump however has continued to insist that the election was fraudulent and stolen. This led to a mass gathering outside the United States Capitol where pro-Trump supporters stormed the building. They busted in windows, issued threats, and had altercations with the police. Bottles were thrown at police officers, multiple suspicious packages were found and some reported that there were pipe bombs on Capitol Hill.
Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, was shot and killed by police as she stormed inside the Statehouse. Many made it past the police and into the Statehouse where they carried Confederate flags, took selfies, and broke into congressional offices. They were ultimately tear-gassed in the Rotunda and pushed out of the Statehouse. Three others died due to non-firearm related medical injuries. 14 police officers were injured and over 50 people were arrested according to The Hill.
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter all released statements that condemned the riots in D.C.
President Trump released a video after aides, congressional allies and President-Elect Biden all pleaded to the President to tell his supporters to stop the violence. His video once again mentioned that the election was stolen but that people needed to stop being violent and go home. He capped his statement off by telling the rioters that, “We love you, you are very special.” That stood in stark contrast to former Republican President Geroge W. Bush who asked the rioters to stand down and that they had been “inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.” He said he was “appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders.”
Mitch McConnell called the riot a “failed insurrection” once Congress reconvened and insisted that their actions would not stop the certification of the electoral votes. McConnell went on to defend the integrity of this past election. He mentioned that this election “was actually not unusually close” as he referenced the 1976, 2000, 2004 and 2016 elections.
McConnell recognized the negative impact of undermining the electoral process would have on the Republican party. The majority leader said, “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. We’d never see the whole nation accept an election again. Every four years it would be a scramble for power at any cost.” Mike Pence also gave a strong rebuke of the rioters’ actions saying that they won nothing by storming the Capitol on Wednesday.
Republicans and Democrats alike have condemned the behavior that took place on Wednesday. Talks of invoking the 25th Amendment and impeachment have been brought up even though Trump’s term will be up in less than two weeks.
Amidst all the chaos on Wednesday, Jon Ossoff won his senate race and gave Democrats a majority in the U.S. Senate. Throughout Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, Congress convened and certified the electoral college votes. Many Senators who were going to object to the results backed down after the events that transpired Wednesday. At this point, nothing can be done to stop Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
It is possible that between now and Inauguration Day, the nation may see even more turmoil. It is difficult to tell whether this is the beginning of a period of civil and political unrest, or if it is the end of an era of a deep political divide that has been magnified by President Trump.
The answer to that question lies both in the hands of the current President but also in the hands of his supporters. Early Thursday morning, President Trump issued a statement through his aides that while he still feels as though the election was stolen from him, there would indeed be a peaceful transfer of power.