Washington in the Final Convulsions of the Trump Era
WASHINGTON — For years, President Trump’s critics who warned of worst-case scenarios were dismissed as alarmists. But the worst case appeared to be materializing on Wednesday as the president’s supporters stormed the United States Capitol, forcing a halt to the process formalizing his election defeat and the evacuation of Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress.
In a remarkable scene evocative of coups and uprisings in authoritarian countries around the world, a mob breached security barricades, broke windows and swarmed through the Capitol. While lawmakers fled, police officers deployed tear gas inside the citadel of American democracy and drew guns to guard the House chamber in an armed standoff. Rioters made it onto the Senate dais where the vice president had stood shortly before and into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office where one sat at her desk.
The extraordinary invasion of the Capitol came shortly after Mr. Trump egged on his admirers at a rally to march to the headquarters of Congress to protest its acceptance of the results of the election that he lost, even suggesting that he would join them, although he did not. While he did not explicitly urge them to force their way into the building, he told them that his presidency was being stolen and that no one should stand for it, inflaming passions that erupted not long after on the other end of the Pennsylvania Avenue.
Only after the situation escalated did Mr. Trump finally appeal for calm. “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful,” he wrote on Twitter. “No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
But he did not initially tell them to leave the Capitol or allow proceedings to resume and even Mr. Trump’s own advisers implored him to do more. “Condemn this now, @realDonaldTrump,” Alyssa Farah, who just stepped down as his communications director, wrote on Twitter. “You are the only one they will listen to. For our country!”
Mick Mulvaney, who served as Mr. Trump’s White House chief of staff and later become a special envoy, made a similar appeal. “The President’s tweet is not enough,” he wrote. “He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home.”
Moments after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. went on live television to deplore the “sedition” at the Capitol and call on Mr. Trump to go before cameras, the president released a recorded video online that offered mixed messages. He repeated his grievances against people who were “so bad and so evil” even as he told supporters it was time to withdraw without condemning their actions.
候任总统小约瑟夫·R·拜登(Joseph R. Biden Jr.)在电视直播中谴责国会大厦的“煽动行为”，并呼吁特朗普面对镜头。就在这之后不久，总统在网上发布的一段录制视频透露了含混不清的讯息。他重申他对那些“如此恶劣而邪恶”的人感到不满，然而他没有谴责其支持者的行为，只是告诉他们现在是时候撤离了。
“I know you’re hurt,” he told them. “We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now.” He added, “We love you. You’re very special.”
The president’s critics placed the blame on him for encouraging the violent response by repeatedly telling Americans that the election was stolen from him when it was not. “This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, told a reporter as he was ushered with other lawmakers into a secure location that the authorities asked not be disclosed.
Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and another outspoken critic of the president, went even further, accusing the president’s supporters of seeking the violent overthrow of the government. “This is a coup attempt,” he wrote on Twitter.
The president’s Republican allies, who were in the midst of trying to block the counting of Mr. Biden’s electors in hopes of helping Mr. Trump cling to power, denounced the violence without backing down from their effort.
“The violence must end, those who attacked police and broke the law must be prosecuted, and Congress must get back to work and finish its job,” Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri and a leader of the election-blocking effort, said in a statement.
While Washington has seen many protests over the years, including some that turned violent, the convulsion on Wednesday was unlike anything that the capital has seen during a transition of power in modern times, literally interrupting the constitutional acceptance of Mr. Biden’s election victory. A presidency that has stirred hostility and divisions for four years appeared to be ending in an explosion of anger, disorder and violence.
“We will never give up,” Mr. Trump had declared at a “Save America March” on the Ellipse shortly before the uprising, his last-gasp effort to justify his failing bid to overturn the democratic election with false claims of fraud that have been debunked by elections, judges and even his own attorney general. “We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that’s what this is all about.”
“我们永远不放弃，”在暴动发生前不久，特朗普在白宫椭圆形草坪的一次“拯救美国游行”(Save America March)中宣称，那是他最后的努力，企图用舞弊的虚假主张来推翻民主选举，但不管是选举结果、法官甚至还有他自己的司法部长都揭穿了他的谎言。“我们永远不认输。认输是不可能的。有偷窃就不能有认输。我们的国家受够了。我们不能再忍受，这就是我们的意思。”
As the crowd on the Ellipse chanted, “Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!” the president lashed out at members of his own party for not doing more to help him cling to power over the will of the people. “There are so many weak Republicans,” he growled and then vowed to take revenge against those he deemed insufficiently loyal. “You primary them,” he said.
He singled out Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, a Republican who has angered him by not intervening in the election, calling him “one of the dumbest governors in the United States.” And he went after William P. Barr, the attorney general who would not validate his election complaints. “All of a sudden, Bill Barr changed,” he groused.
他点名佐治亚州州长布莱恩·肯普(Brian Kemp)，称他是“美国最蠢州长之一”，这位共和党人因不肯干预大选激怒了他。他还抨击了不愿证实他对大选怨言的司法部长威廉·P·巴尔(William P. Barr)。“突然之间，比尔·巴尔就变脸了，”他抱怨道。
Other speakers, including his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, excoriated Republican lawmakers for not standing up for Mr. Trump. “The people who did nothing to stop the steal — this gathering should send a message to them,” Donald Trump Jr. said. “This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”
其他演讲者，包括他的儿子小唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump Jr.)和埃里克·特朗普(Eric Trump)，都痛斥没有支持特朗普的共和党议员。“对那些没有阻止这场选举被偷走的人——趁这次机会应该向他们传达一个信息，”小唐纳德·特朗普说。“这已经不是他们的共和党了。这是唐纳德·特朗普的共和党。”
To many Republicans, that was the problem. Even as Mr. Trump’s presidency was slipping away from him, Republicans increasingly turned on him, stewing over the Tuesday’s runoff elections in Georgia that seemed to favor Democrats and the votes he was forcing lawmakers to take for or against the results of a democratic election.
Even Mr. Pence and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, who have been among the most loyal supporters of Mr. Trump for four years, finally broke with him in a decisive way. Mr. Pence rebuffed the president’s demand that he use his role as presiding officer over the Electoral College count to reject electors for Mr. Biden. And Mr. McConnell gave a forceful speech repudiating Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election.
“If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” Mr. McConnell said in a speech before the rioters overran the Capitol.
Mr. Pence rejected the president just minutes after Mr. Trump continued to publicly pressure him to do what even the president’s longtime lawyer Jay Sekulow said the vice president did not have the power to do — reject the electors of swing states Republicans lost.
“I hope Mike is going to do the right thing,” Mr. Trump told the rally on the Ellipse. “I hope so. I hope so because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.”
Just minutes later, Mr. Pence released a letter saying he did not have the power to do what the president wanted him to do. “Vesting the vice president with unilateral authority to decide presidential contests would be entirely antithetical” to the constitutional design, he wrote.
He added: “It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”
With Mr. Pence unwilling and unable to stop the count, the president’s supporters made it their mission to do it themselves. And for several hours, at least, they succeeded.