Northam sends Va. National Guard, state troopers to D.C. as Trump supporters attack Capitol

By: - January 6, 2021 4:05 pm

U.S. Capitol police officers point their guns at a door that was vandalized in the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. when Trump supporters breached the building. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Gov. Ralph Northam sent Virginia National Guard personnel and state troopers to help restore order in D.C. Wednesday after a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. One person was reported fatally shot. 

The governor said he would be sending National Guard resources and 200 Virginia state troopers to assist with the situation, adding that his administration is “working closely” with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Democratic congressional leaders.

Federal lawmakers were sent scrambling for safety Wednesday afternoon after Trump supporters overwhelmed police and broke into the Capitol building, halting the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A protester holds a Trump flag inside the US Capitol Building near 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. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

All four Virginia Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives had lent support to longshot efforts to challenge the election results, saying they intended to formally oppose some of the Electoral College results that cemented Biden’s win. After the Capitol was breached, some of them pleaded for calm.

State Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2021, had travelled to Washington for the rally, apparently addressing a crowd at one point Wednesday morning.

In the afternoon, she posted a video to Facebook from the inside of a car letting her supporters know she was safe and heading back to the Richmond area.

“Everything that I saw earlier today was very peaceful,” she said.

She also said she was “very disappointed” Vice President Mike Pence had not tried to block certification of Biden’s electors and repeated her unfounded claims that the election was “stolen” from Trump.

Former Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, who is competing with Chase for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, issued a more forceful statement denouncing the violent protest.

“The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of our republic, key to the ongoing and sustainable success of a representative government,” Cox said. “The reality is that Joe Biden is set to become the next president of the United States under our Constitution. The lawless actions taken today are an affront to that process and, therefore, an affront to the republic.”

Virginia Democrats denounced the events Wednesday as a shameful day in American history.

“I’m a former intelligence officer,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Henrico, said in an interview with NBC News. “My whole background is understanding the challenges that foreign governments are facing. The scene that we saw on Capitol Hill – the banging, the yelling, the screaming, the demands to enter the chambers of the United States Congress – those are the sorts of things that happen in third-world nations. The sorts of places where our diplomats and intelligence officers write home to the United States and say this is a dangerous scenario, this is an endangered democracy.”

Other House Democrats, including Virginians, urged swift retribution for Trump in the form of a new impeachment.

A House office building was evacuated and the Capitol and surrounding office buildings were locked down after the pro-Trump rioters protesting the election results pushed past barricades and made it to the hallways outside the House and Senate chambers. Some were carrying Trump flags, video posted on Twitter showed.

According to pool reports, Vice President Mike Pence was rushed out of the Senate chamber, where he had been presiding over the certification. Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley also was escorted out with Pence.

As they rushed away, Senate parliamentary staff grabbed hold of the boxes containing the Electoral College certificates.

Lawmakers were also evacuated from the House, according to pool reports.

Another pool report said: “There’s an armed standoff at the house front the door police officers have their guns drawn at someone who is trying to reach the front door.”

Trump at a rally had encouraged demonstrators to march on the Capitol. He then promised to march with them to the Capitol, but returned to the White House.

The violent demonstration unfolded as lawmakers had gathered to tally the Electoral College votes, the final step in formalizing Joe Biden’s presidential win.

Dozens of Republicans were expected to file a series of objections to Biden’s votes from a handful of swing states, alleging fraud claims that have failed in lawsuits brought by the legal team of Trump, who has refused to concede.

The House and Senate convened briefly to begin tallying votes, and the first objection was filed to Arizona’s 11 electoral votes. The two chambers began debate over that objection, which was raised by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and 60 colleagues, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

That debate was upended as the protesters approached the building. As Capitol Police closed the doors to lock down the House floor, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) shouted to Republicans, “This is because of you,” according to pool reports.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a 6 p.m. citywide curfew until 6 a.m. Thursday.

In a speech, President-elect Joe Biden called it “an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings.”

“This is not dissent. It’s disorder, it’s chaos. It borders on sedition and it must end now,” Biden said, calling on the “mob to pull back and let the work of democracy to go forward.”

In his own video, Trump repeated lies about election fraud and called for “peace.”

“We don’t want anybody hurt,” he said. “So go home, we love you. You’re very special.”

Virginia Congresswoman Elaine Luria, D-Norfolk, called him a “complete disgrace.”

States Newsroom D.C. Bureau reporters Laura Olson and Ariana Figueroa contributed to this report. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville.