WASHINGTON - Reaction from lawmakers poured in after the U.S. Capitol was locked down Wednesday due to protesters supporting President Donald Trump breaching barricades and initiating violent clashes with Capitol police.
Both chambers of Congress abruptly recessed as they were debating the count of the Electoral College vote that gave Joe Biden the presidency.
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.
Several lawmakers changed their minds and announced that they will no longer support efforts to object to the Electoral College and challenge the election results, following the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
Wednesday evening, GOP Sens. Loeffler, Daines, Braun shifted their decision saying they would not object to Biden electors after pro-Trump attack on Capitol.
"I fully intended to object to the certification of the Electoral votes. However, the events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider, and I cannot now in good conscious object to the certification of these electors," Loeffler said Wednesday.
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said in a statement, "What happened today and continues to unfold in the nation’s capital is disgraceful and un-American. Thugs assaulted Capitol Police Officers, breached and defaced our Capitol Building, put people’s lives in danger, and disregarded the values we hold dear as Americans. To anyone involved, shame on you,"
McMorris Rodgers continued, " What we have seen today is unlawful and unacceptable. I have decided I will vote to uphold the Electoral College results and I encourage Donald Trump to condemn and put an end to this madness."
Former President Barack Obama issued a statement on Twitter.
Obama wrote, "History will rightly remember today's violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation. But we'd be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise."
Obama continued, "Right now, Republican leaders have a choice made clear in the desecrated chambers of democracy. They can continue down this road and keep stoking the raging fires. Or they can choose reality and take the first steps toward extinguishing the flames. They can choose America."
Former President George W. Bush issued a statement, saying that it was a "sickening and heartbreaking sight."
"Laura and I are watching the scenes of mayhem unfolding at the seat of our Nation’s government in disbelief and dismay. It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight. This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement," Bush wrote.
Bush continued, "The violent assault on the Capitol – and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress – was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes. Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation. In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law. To those who are disappointed in the results of the election: Our country is more important than the politics of the moment. Let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety. May God continue to bless the United States of America."
Former President Bill Clinton says the attack on the U.S. Capitol was fueled over four years of "poison politics" and lit by President Donald Trump.
Clinton said in a statement Wednesday night that the riot at the Capitol resulted from a combination of deliberate disinformation that created distrust in the system and pit Americans against one another.
He wrote, "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."
Former President Jimmy Carter also released a statement Wednesday evening.
Carter wrote, "Rosalynn and I are troubled by the violence at the U.S. Capitol today. This is a national tragedy and is not who we are as a nation."
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Wednesday's storming of the Capitol "unacceptable."
"The storming of the U.S. Capitol today is unacceptable. Lawlessness and rioting -- here or around the world -- is always unacceptable. I have travelled to many countries and always support the right of every human being to protest peacefully for their beliefs and their causes," Pompeo tweeted.
Democratic Representative Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee issued a statement condemning Trump as "directly responsible for the despicable acts" in the Capitol, saying that "the President incited and encouraged this riot."
"President Trump and his enablers are directly responsible for the despicable acts at our nation's Capitol that we all have witnessed today," Smith wrote. "The President incited and encouraged this riot. He has lied repeatedly, as have his enablers in Congress and elsewhere about this election. They do not believe in democracy. They believe in retaining power by any means necessary. All Americans who believe in the rule of law and our Constitution must clearly and unambiguously hold these people accountable for their actions."
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House minority leader, called what was happening "un-American."
McCarthy joined FOX News' Bill Hemmer on the phone as reports emerged of an armed standoff at the door of the U.S. House chamber, and McCarthy said he's heard on a Capitol Police radio that shots have been fired.
Earlier, McCarthy thanked the Capitol Police for "protecting the People’s House."
Protests broke out after Arizona was the first of several states facing objections from the Republicans as Congress took an alphabetical reading of the election results.
Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona rose to object the typically routine acceptance of electors.
Later Gosar tweeted, "Ok. I said let’s do an audit. Let’s not get carried away here. I don’t want anyone hurt. We are protesting the violation of our laws. We are builders not destroyers. BLM burns and loots. We build. If anyone on the ground reads this and is beyond the line come back."
President Trump tweeted amid the chaos, urging protestors to "stay peaceful."
"Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful," Trump wrote.
But the protest looked anything but peaceful Wednesday afternoon. Trump’s supporters 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.
Trump’s tweets came just hours after he spoke at a rally Wednesday morning near the White House, where several thousand protestors cheered the president and his disproven claims of widespread election fraud.
"We will not let them silence your voices," Trump told the protesters. "We will stop the steal."
Later, Trump tweeted, "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!"
Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted back at the president, writing, "It's a little late for that. Don't you think?"
At 6:00 p.m. ET, Trump tweeted that events like this 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."
Wednesday afternoon, Schumer tweeted, "From @SpeakerPelosi and me: We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protestors leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately."
Wednesday, President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation to demand an end to the "siege" underway at the U.S. Capitol building, where Trump supporters clashed with police and marched through the building. At least one person was reportedly shot.
"The words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, it can incite," Biden said from his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware.
"To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices, and to threaten the safety of duly elected officials is not protest. It is insurrection. The world is watching — and like so many other Americans, I am shocked and saddened that our nation, so long a beacon of light, hope and democracy, has come to such a dark moment," Biden said.
Biden later tweeted, "America is so much better than what we’re seeing today."
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham reacted to Biden's statement.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that we must focus on the task "to preserve the integrity of our democracy."
"Was barricaded in for several hours. I’ll tell y’all about it later. For now, we must focus on task at hand: to preserve the integrity of our democracy, hold accountable those responsible for their attempts to subvert our nation’s elections and shred our Constitution apart," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Later Ocasio-Cortez issued a one-word tweet, writing 'Impeach.'
At 3:36 p.m. ET, Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, stated that the National Guard was on the way along with other federal protective services under Trump's direction.
Vice President, Mike Pence wrote, "The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building."
Wednesday afternoon, Eric Trump said to "prosecute anyone who crosses that line to the fullest extent of the law."
Former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said, "Now is the time for the President to be presidential."
"The President's tweet is not enough. He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home," Mulvaney continued.
"Condemn this now, @realdonaldtrump - you are the only one they will listen to. For our country!" Alyssa Farah, Trump’s former White House communications director, wrote.
Congresswoman Cori Bush said that Republican members of Congress "who have incited this domestic terror attack" should "face consequences", and introduced a resolution calling for their expulsion.
Steve Scalise, House Republican minority whip, tweeted, "United States Capitol Police saved my life. Attacks on law enforcement officers trying to do their jobs are never acceptable. Period. We can passionately protest without being violent."
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan posted a video at 5:21 p.m. ET in response to the events that unfolded Wednesday.
Hogan tweeted, "Never thought I’d see a day like this in America. I am not going to stand for this, and neither should any American."
"In addition to sending in 200 @MDSP troopers, after speaking to the Secretary of the Army, I am mobilizing 500 @MDNG members to help restore law and order," Hogan continued.
U.S. HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued a statement saying he was "disgusted by the attack" on the Capitol and called for rioters to "immediately and peacefully disperse."
Acting attorney general Jeff Rosen released a statement calling the riot "intolerable" and said, "We intend to enforce the law of the land."
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott reacted stating that "the fabric of our democracy and the principles of our republic are under attack by the President."
Scott continued that "President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress."
U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney issued a statement, stating that what happened Wednesday was an insurrection, incited by the president.
"We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States," Romney wrote. "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."
Gov. of Illinois J.B. Pritzker called on Congress to impeach and remove President Trump.
"I don’t make a statement like this lightly: Two weeks is too long for Donald Trump to remain in office, where he can continue to incite more untold violence. Read my full statement calling on Congress to impeach and remove @realDonaldTrump," Pritzker said.
North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr wrote in a statement that President Trump "bears responsibility" for riots at US Capitol by promoting "unfounded conspiracy theories."
"It is past time to accept the will of American voters and to allow our nation to move forward. Congress will uphold its constitutional duty and certify the results of the election," Burr said.
RNC Communications Director, Michael Ahrens called what happened today as "domestic terrorism."
"Our soldiers have died carrying the American flag into battle for our freedom. To see that flag used in the name of unfounded conspiracy theories is a disgrace to the nation, and every decent American should be disgusted by it," Ahrens wrote.
Rep. Liz Cheney wrote on Twitter, "We just had a violent mob assault the Capitol in an attempt to prevent those from carrying out our Constitutional duty. There is no question that the President formed the mob, the President incited the mob, the President addressed the mob. He lit the flame."
Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen says the violent protest was an "intolerable attack on a fundamental institution" of democracy.
Rosen said Wednesday that the Justice Department has been working with U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement agencies to secure the Capitol. He says hundreds of federal agents from Justice Department agencies were sent to assist.
He called it an "unacceptable situation" and said federal prosecutors "intend to enforce the laws of our land."
Nebraska lawmaker and Republican Sen. Ben Sasse blamed Trump Wednesday evening saying that the Capitol "was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard — tweeting against his Vice President for fulfilling the duties of his oath to the Constitution."
Sasse says in his written statement, "Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the President’s addiction to constantly stoking division."
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton released a statement after violence broke out.
"It’s past time for the president to accept the results of the election, quit misleading the American people, and repudiate mob violence. And the senators and representatives who fanned the flames by encouraging the president and leading their supporters to believe that their objections could reverse the election results should withdraw those objections. In any event, the Congress will complete its constitutional responsibilities tonight," Cotton wrote.
National security adviser Robert O'Brien said, "Violence has absolutely no place in our democracy. I applaud the men and women of law enforcement and the National Guard, who are working to restore order and protect our institutions. Our country is better than what we saw today at our Capitol."
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said, "This is the final chapter of an incompetent, cruel, and divisive administration that has trampled on the Constitution and the rule of law at every turn, and we won’t let President Trump, the members of Congress who enable him, or the lawless mob that stormed our nation’s Capitol steal our democracy. The election results are clear and the will of the American people will be carried out."
Thomas Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said "The attacks against our nation’s Capitol Building and our democracy must end now. The Congress of the United States must gather again this evening to conclude their Constitutional responsibility to accept the report of the Electoral College."
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said "We are witnessing one of the greatest assaults on our democracy since the Civil War. Today’s attempted coup has been years in the making as Donald Trump consistently spews venom, conspiracies, hate and lies to his supporters. They are carrying out his wishes, and far too many Republican lawmakers have enabled and even encouraged this violent threat to our republic."
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, "Shocking scenes in Washington, D.C. The outcome of this democratic election must be respected."
Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican from Wyoming said, "We just had a violent mob assault the Capitol in an attempt to prevent those from carrying out our Constitutional duty. There is no question that the President formed the mob, the President incited the mob, the President addressed the mob. He lit the flame."
This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed to this story.