Police officer's death intensifies Capitol siege questions

A police officer has died from injuries sustained as President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol, a violent siege that is forcing hard questions about the defeated president's remaining days in office and the ability of the Capitol Police to secure the area.

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 melee.

The rampage that has shocked the world and left the country on edge forced the resignations of three top Capitol security officials over the failure to stop the breach. It led lawmakers to demand a review of operations and an FBI briefing over what they called a “terrorist attack.” And it is prompting a broader reckoning over Trump’s tenure in office and what comes next for a torn nation.

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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.

One protester, a white woman, 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 own former attorney general have said there were no 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.

Members of the U.S. Secret Service Counter Assault Team walk through the Rotunda as they and other federal police forces responded as violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol today, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Members of the U.S. Secret Service Counter Assault Team walk through the Rotunda as they and other federal police forces responded as violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol today, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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 on 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.

Police hold off Trump supporters who tried to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Police hold off Trump supporters who tried to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Earlier Thursday, House Speaker Nancy 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 President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated 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.

Trump, who had repeatedly refused to concede the election, did so in a late Thursday video from the White House vowing a “seamless transition of power.”

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally protesting the electoral college certification of Joe Biden as President, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a rally protesting the electoral college certification of Joe Biden as President, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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.nIn 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 before.

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.”

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'Only in America': Warnock's rise from poverty to US senator

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock waves to supporters during a drive-in rally, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Savannah, Ga. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris made a campaign stop for Georgia candidates Warnock and Jon Ossoff before the runoff election Tuesday. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

The man elected to be Georgia's first Black senator calls his story one that could only happen in America

The Rev. Raphael Warnock's roots showed little promise of a future that led to the U.S. Senate.

He grew up in Savannah in the Kayton Homes public housing project, the second youngest of 12 children. His mother as a teenager had worked as a sharecropper picking cotton and tobacco. His father was a preacher who also made money hauling old cars to a local scrapyard.

Pushed by his parents to work hard, Warnock left Savannah and became the first member of his family to graduate from college, helped by Pell grants and low-interest student loans. He earned a Ph.D. in theology that led to a career in the pulpit, eventually as head pastor of the Atlanta church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached.

Now Warnock, 51, will go to Washington as the first Black senator elected from Georgia, a Southern state still grappling with its painful history of slavery, segregation and racial injustice.

“Only in America is my story even possible,” Warnock told the cheering drive-in crowd Sunday.

Warnock defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a wealthy businesswoman who spent more than $20 million of her own money to try to keep the Senate seat to which Georgia's Republican governor appointed her a year ago.

His election followed a year scarred not only by a pandemic that disproportionately killed African Americans and left many jobless and struggling to pay rent, but also marked by the volatile outcry over the killings of Black Americans, including George Floyd in Minneapolis, and Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks in Georgia.

Warnock isn't the first Black candidate to win statewide office in Georgia, where voters elected Black men to serve as attorney general, state labor commissioner and a state Supreme Court justice in the 1990s. But the Senate seat is by far the most high-profile office won by an African American from the state.

“A barrier has been broken, a wall has literally been shattered and splintered,” said Michael Thurmond, the elected CEO of DeKalb County in metro Atlanta. “Historically, it didn’t matter how qualified you were, primarily you were prohibited by color. It was an office reserved for white men.”

A Black Democrat, Thurmond previously served as Georgia's labor commissioner and ran his own campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2010. He credited Warnock's victory largely to Georgia voters defying stereotypes and expectations.

“ African American voters did something many political pundits didn’t believe they would do, which is come back for a runoff," said Thurmond, who also noted that many whites supported Warnock — even as Republicans spent huge sums to portray him as being too radical for the traditionally conservative state. “The fact that whites weren’t scared to vote for this Black man was quite amazing.”

Michaelle Viosa moved to Atlanta last year from New York and said she's been unable to find a job amid economic fallout from the pandemic. Hearing of Warnock’s win when she woke Wednesday, Viosa, a Black woman of Haitian descent, cheered his victory — but also wondered what he'll do when he gets to Washington.

“I believe God wanted it,” Viosa said. “I’m hoping he uses his powers for good for our community. There has been so much oppression on our people.”

Warnock framed his campaign for the Senate as an extension of his years of progressive activism as the leader of Atlanta's storied Ebenezer Baptist Church. He won election on a platform that called for bail reform and an end to mass incarceration; a living wage and job training for a green economy; expanded access to voting and health care, and student loan forgiveness.

It was an unabashedly liberal agenda that illustrates a political shift in Georgia. The state's last Democratic senator, Zell Miller, became so conservative that he gave a rousing speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention endorsing the reelection of President George W. Bush.

It remains to be seen whether another Georgia Democrat, Jon Ossoff, will join Warnock in the Senate. Both of the state's Senate seats were on the runoff ballot Tuesday. But it remained too early Wednesday to call the race between Ossoff and Republican David Perdue.

Warnock insists he'll work to unite Georgia after a bitterly divisive campaign and the polarizing four years of President Donald Trump's term. He said his first priorities will be pushing to increase coronavirus relief payments to $2,000 and improving distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“What Georgia did last night is its own message," Warnock told CNN on Wednesday, "in the midst of a moment in which so many people are trying to divide our country at a time we can least afford to be divided.”

Loeffler and Republicans targeted Warnock using video snippets from some of his sermons as ammunition for a barrage of negative ads. One of them featured Warnock defending President Barack Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, after Wright decried the country’s mistreatment of Blacks with the exclamation, “God damn America."

Other Black ministers called Loeffler's criticisms unfair, saying Republicans used brief sermon excerpts without context and showed no understanding of how Black preachers have often spoken out against racial injustice in terms that can be discomforting to outsiders.

Warnock was arrested at the Georgia state Capitol in 2014 while protesting the refusal of state Republicans to expand Medicaid. In 2017, as he and other pastors demonstrated against efforts to repeal Obama's signature health care law, he was arrested again at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Warnock recalled the Washington arrest during his speech Sunday in Savannah, as he looked ahead to his next trip to Capitol Hill.

“I’m going to meet those Capitol police officers again," he said. “This time they will not be taking me to central booking. They can help me find my new office.”

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After mob disrupts proceedings, Congress turns back Electoral College challenge, certifying Biden as the next president

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Vice President Mike Pence officiate as a joint session of the House and Senate on Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Vice President Mike Pence officiate as a joint session of the House and Senate on Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021. 

After an extraordinary act of violence from a riotous mob on Wednesday afternoon forced U.S. legislators to evacuate the Capitol during the counting of the Electoral College votes in the presidential election, Congress voted in the early morning hours of Thursday to certify the results showing President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Trump.

While a group of Republican lawmakers challenged the results in Arizona and Pennsylvania, those objections did not withstand a vote in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

At approximately 3:33 a.m. ET on Thursday, Congress had certified enough electoral votes to surpass the 270 threshold that guaranteed Biden would become the 46th president, effectively ending a desperate bid by Trump and his supporters to overturn the results of the November election.

“The votes for president of the United States are as follows: Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of the State of Delaware has receive 306 votes. Donald J. Trump of the state of Florida has received 232 votes,” Vice President Mike Pence declared.

“The announcement of the state of the vote,” Pence continued, “by the president of the Senate, shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons elected president and vice president of the United States each for the term beginning on the 20th day of January, 2021.”

Moments after Pence declared Biden the winner of the election, Trump released a falsehood-laden statement in which he pledged an “orderly transition” of power.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in the statement made public by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino. “I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of our greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”

Violent protesters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington (AP/John Minchillo)
Violent protesters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington (AP/John Minchillo)

Earlier on Wednesday, in the wake of the attack on the Capitol, fewer Republicans followed through with promises to contest the certification, yet enough did to drag the debate into early Thursday morning.

The initial session abruptly ended at approximately 1:40 p.m., during an objection made by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, against the slate of electors from Arizona. Both chambers had begun debating the challenge when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, sending lawmakers scurrying to safety.

Just an hour earlier, Trump spoke at a large rally in Washington, where he repeated numerous discredited claims, including that the election was rigged against him. He ominously informed his own vice president what he expected of him.

“Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution,” Trump said at the rally, “and for the good of our country. And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you, I will tell you right now.”

Trump also encouraged his crowd of roughly 25,000 supporters to head to the Capitol and make their displeasure with the certification clear.

Chaos ensued as Trump’s supporters clashed with police, broke windows, entered the Capitol and ransacked congressional offices. At least one person was shot and killed during the siege, three other people died and more than a dozen law enforcement officers were injured.

As Capitol Police finally began clearing the building late in the afternoon, Trump issued a now deleted one-minute videotaped statement directed at the rioters that began by expressing sympathy for their “pain” and “hurt” before launching into a litany of his own grievances about “an election that was stolen from us.”

“But you have to go home now,” Trump said. “We have to have peace.”

“We love you. You’re very special,” he added. “I know how you feel.”

Lawmakers returned to the Capitol around 8 p.m. to resume the process. “All this accomplished was to delay our vote by a few hours,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.

Vice President Mike Pence, who returned from the siege of the capital from a secure location to preside over a joint session of Congress, certified the electoral votes, despite pleas from Trump to attempt to block them.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., objects to confirming the Electoral College votes from Nevada during a joint session of the House and Senate early Thursday, Jan 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP/Andrew Harnik)
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., objects to confirming the Electoral College votes from Nevada during a joint session of the House and Senate early Thursday, Jan 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

Before the certification, Pence addressed the rioters who smashed in windows and trespassed into lawmakers’ offices and the House and Senate chambers.

“To those who wreaked havoc at our Capitol today, you did not win,” Pence said. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”

While Thursday’s vote reached an explosive conclusion, the final results of the election were not all that close. Biden received 7 million more popular votes than Trump.

With his Electoral College votes certified by Congress, Biden is now set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20.

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US Capitol breached as Trump supporters clash with police

 JANUARY 06: A protester yells inside the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building during mass demonstrations in the nation’s capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

 Mob storms US Capitol as Trump accused of 'coup'

The U.S. Capitol locked down Wednesday after protesters breached barricades amid violent clashes between President Donald Trump's supporters and Capitol police.

Both chambers of Congress abruptly recessed as they were debating the Electoral College vote that gave Joe Biden the presidency.

PHOTO: Protesters try to enter the Michigan House of Representative chamber after the American Patriot Rally for the reopening of businesses on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., April 30, 2020.

There was confusion in the House chamber as the Capitol doors were locked and debate was suspended. A representative from the Capitol police spoke from a lectern on the dais and told lawmakers to remain calm, and that more information would be available soon.

An announcement was played inside the Capitol as lawmakers were meeting and expected to vote to affirm Joe Biden's victory. Due to an “external security threat,” no one could enter or exit the Capitol complex, the recording said.

Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Trump issued a restrained call for peace well after the melee was underway but did not immediately urge supporters to disperse. Earlier he had egged them on to march to Capitol Hill. The Pentagon said about 1,100 District of Columbia National Guard members were being mobilized to help support law enforcement at the Capitol.

Here’s what people are saying on Twitter:

The skirmishes occurred outside in the very spot where president-elect Biden will be inaugurated in just two weeks.

Protesters tore down metal barricades at the bottom of the Capitol’s steps and were met by officers in riot gear. Some tried to push past the officers who held shields and officers could be seen firing pepper spray into the crowd to keep them back. Some in the crowd were shouting “traitors” as officers tried to keep them back.

A suspicious package was also reported in the area, Capitol Police said.

The skirmishes came just shortly after Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud at a rally near the White House on Wednesday ahead of Congress' vote.

“We will not let them silence your voices,” Trump told the protesters, who had lined up before sunrise to get a prime position to hear the president.

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Raphael Warnock Makes History With His Senate Win In Georgia

Screen capture from video of Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock declaring victory in a Georgia run-off vote, January 6, 2021. (Twitter)

Warnock is the first Black U.S. senator to represent the state.

Raphael Warnock delivered a stunning victory for Democrats in Tuesday’s runoff election, defeating Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and giving Georgia Democrats a Senate seat for the first time in more than a decade. 

But his victory goes far deeper.

Warnock makes history as the first Black senator to ever represent the state.

He’s just the 11th Black senator in history.

He’s also the first Black Democratic senator from the South since Reconstruction and only the second overall. (South Carolina’s Tim Scott, a Republican, is the other.)

When Warnock was born, in 1969, both of Georgia’s senators were segregationist Democrats.

Warnock acknowledged his unusual path to the Senate in a speech early Wednesday morning, pointing to his roots growing up in the Kayton Homes housing project of Savannah, Georgia, as one of 12 children and then as a graduate of Morehouse College, the historically Black men’s college in Atlanta. 

″[T]he other day, because this is America,” he added, acknowledging his mother, “the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator.”

Democrat Raphael Warnock beat Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) in the Senate runoff election Tuesday.
Democrat Raphael Warnock beat Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) in the Senate runoff election Tuesday.

Warnock is now senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. 

Though there were two Senate runoffs on the ballot Tuesday, Warnock attracted the bulk of the vitriol from the GOP. They labeled him a radical extremist, calling him a “heretic” and accusing him of being involved in “child abuse.”

But the tactics led to a backlash from Black voters, who turned out in strong numbers and fueled the Democratic win. 

“The attack ads, the portrayal of Rev. Warnock using historically racist tropes in the ads is insulting,” Gwen Mills, the secretary-treasurer of the labor union Unite Here, which contributed to a major field organizing program in the state, told HuffPost before the election. “But it’s also invigorating in the sense that people aren’t going to stand for this. We’ve heard it a lot.”

Warnock’s win is also likely to add momentum to the push to recruit and support more Black candidates for statewide offices after decades of the party often turning instead to white, moderate and rather milquetoast options.

Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor of Georgia in 2018, helped set the template for Black candidates pursuing statewide office and appealing to suburban white voters. 

In 2020, Jamie Harrison in South Carolina and Mike Espy in Mississippi both lost, but they outran Biden in their states and raised more money than their GOP opponents. 

“Rev. Warnock’s victory represents a historic seismic shift in how we view electoral viability,” said Chris Scott, national political director for the Collective PAC, which supports Black candidates. “With Rev. Warnock set to become only the 11th Black elected senator in U.S. history, his victory proves to Democrats that Black candidates are especially viable and captivating for U.S. Senate seats in nontraditional states, in addition to the South being worthy of greater investment.”

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