By David M. Greenwald
We have seen a lot of words thrown around to describe Wednesday—riot, insurrection, but how about lynch mob? We have yet to have a full account of what happened, what went wrong, but the video and pictures emerging are far worse than what we initially saw in the live coverage.
The images broadcast in real time were not the most horrifying images of the day. Much of what we saw—silly costumes, selfies, some guy grabbing the Speaker’s lectern, were less threatening than some of the things we did not see in real time.
But things way darker were happening inside the rotunda. And it gives us a glimpse at aspects of the organization and intent of the crowd.
A Capitol police officer died after being struck with a fire extinguisher during a melee. That means that the US Capitol becomes the site of a homicide investigation. Depending on how laws are applied, a lot of people could actually potentially face murder charges here.
After all, the deaths were the result of the actions of a mob that were incited and directed by the President of the US. It is unclear his actual intent, but he apparently wanted them to intimidate or pressure members of the Congress to instate him rather than Biden as the winner of the presidential election.
Josh Hawley is now in hot water, along with Ted Cruz, from members of his own caucus in addition to from the Democrats. He walked by the protesters and was infamously photographed with his fist in the air. Former Missouri Senator John Danforth now calls supporting Hawley the biggest mistake he has made in his career.
When you start looking at some of this footage and the communications, this starts looking like a lynch mob.
Lin Wood, an attorney with the President’s Legal Team, tweeted, “They let them in.” Then said, “Get the firing squads ready. Pence goes FIRST.”
Jim Bourg with Routers tweeted, “I heard at least 3 different rioters at the Capitol say that they hoped to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor.”
There is a photo of a gallows with a noose right outside the Capitol. Other video footage depicts a large mob outside of the capitol chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.”
Pence had to be taken into protective custody as the result of the mob action.
There is also the photo of the guy who is wearing full tactical gear with a handful of zip ties used to secure people during riots and protests. He is in the Senate chamber.
One report in Slate noted, “The guys were carrying flex cuffs, the plastic double restraints often used by police in mass arrest situations.”
Dan Kois of Slate writes, “They went into the Capitol, as Congress was counting electoral votes, equipped to take hostages – to physically seize officials, and presumably to take lives.”
That at least opens the possibility that people in that mob planned to apprehend and potentially kill leaders in this country.
That is the scene that was set as a large group gathered outside of the Speaker’s office just outside of the House floor.
The death of Ashli Babbitt occurred and she others repeatedly battered down the doors just outside of the House Chambers where House members were huddled, sheltering in place.
As they breached the barrier, you can see people using sticks and other objects to bash in the doors, glass broken but still holding up.
In one video with the doors about to give way, the officer with gun drawn watching the progression of the mob, and as Babbitt jumps into the window about to cross the barrier and overrun that officer, a single shot is fired—and in the other video, you can see her struck, on the ground as people frantically attempt to get the attention of law enforcement.
Another video shows a throng of people attempting to force their way into the House or Senate and being met by a throng of police in riot and tactical gear. The police this time are able to hold the large mob out. Barely. Some are seen in serious distress, crushed in the door. Had they broken in at that point, hard to know what would have happened—we probably would be witnessing something far more catastrophic?
What would have happened had the police at that point not been able to hold off the crowd—would they have attempted to surge past them? What happens if they got to Pelosi, Schumer or Pence? We know from history what that looks like—these are US officials.
This of course was egged on by President Trump.
On December 19, he tweeted, “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
On Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani called on the crowd to settle the election “via a trial by combat.”
Mo Brooks, a congressman, said, “It’s time to start taking down names, and kicking ass.”
Then Donald Trump spoke.
“We’re going to have to fight much harder. Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t that will be a sad day for our country. We’re going to walk down to the capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women. And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
He later tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”
Ben Sasse of Nebraska said that White House aides say Trump was “delighted” as the Capitol was stormed.
It is interesting that reports say that Pence is not in favor of removing Trump via the 25th Amendment. One has to wonder how much he knows about the apparent intent of the mob to lynch him.
For the first time, Republicans are turning against the President. And not just the four in the Senate that have been critical. Yesterday Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said, “I do think the president committed impeachable offenses.”
Can they get close to 17 Senators needed to remove the President from office? Probably not.
But Republicans increasingly have a problem—they have a large and angry constituent base that is absolutely convinced that Trump won, that the election was stolen, and they are angry that a large number of Republican legislators voted to confirm Biden’s victory. Although it is interesting that it was 139 House Republicans that opposed certification on Wednesday versus just 7 in the Senate.
Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina told the New York Times she was confronted with constituents and, “It didn’t matter what I said… They didn’t believe it.
“Their hearts, minds and wallets were taken advantage of,” Mace said, her voice rising in fury. “Millions of people across the country who were lied to. These individuals, these hardworking Americans truly believe that the Congress can overturn the Electoral College.”
But the problem of course is that Republicans spoke out too late. And yes, many regret not speaking out sooner, but they fed this beast to the point where it may well consume them eventually. They need to all get up there and say in a press conference what Mace said to the New York Times—you were lied to, you were taken advantage of, there was no stolen election.
I don’t know what is going to happen, but the severity of this situation should not be underestimated.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
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