Amid chaos at the U.S. Capitol, President-elect Joe Biden called on the president to take a firm stand against his supporters who have broken the barriers and stormed the building amid a meeting to ratify the Electoral College election vote.
"President [Donald] Trump, step up," Biden said during a several-minute televised address from Wilmington, Delaware.
Said Biden in his speech, "At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times. An assault in the citadel of liberty, the capital itself. … An assault on the people’s representatives and the Capitol Hill Police sworn to protect them. An assault on the rule of law like few times we’ve ever seen it. An assault on the most sacred of American undertakings, the doing of people’s business."
"Let me be very clear, the scenes at the Capitol do not reflect the true America," the president-elect asserted. "What we’re seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent, it’s chaos.”
He directly called on the president to "go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Consitution and demand an end to this siege," saying, "it must end now."
The Capitol building was breached while lawmakers were gathered inside to count the Electoral College votes certifying President-elect Joe Biden's win.
Thousands of Trump supporters had gathered to show their support for the president amid his unfounded claims of election fraud following his November loss to Biden.
Though the gathering began outside the Capitol, the group eventually moved from the Mall to the Capitol, with scores of them storming the building on Wednesday afternoon. Images circulated widely of rioters breaking windows of the building.
The president delayed asking his supporters outright to leave the Capitol, tweeting first, "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!"
Later, around 3:13 p.m., he added, "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!"
Shortly after Biden's speech, Trump tweeted a video to the rioters, telling them that he loved them but stating, "You have to go home now, we have to have peace." Yet he still doubled down on the baseless claims that the election was "stolen from us" in the clip.
"We have to have peace. We have to have law and order," the president said. "We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don't want anybody hurt. It's a very tough period of time. There's never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us, from me from you from our country. This was a fraudulent election. But we can't play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You're very special. You've seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel."
He continued, "But go home."
Trump's vice president followed Biden's more straightforward approach earlier in the afternoon, threatening the rioters with prosectuion.
"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," wrote Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the meeting and was evacuated along with other lawmakers in attendance.
He continued, "Peaceful protest is the right of every American but this attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
In his speech on Wednesday, Biden also said that America is "about honor, decency, respect, tolerance. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been. The certification of the Electoral College vote is supposed to be a sacred ritual.”
“Today’s a reminder, a painful one, democracy is fragile. To preserve it requires people of good will, leaders with the courage to stand up, who are devoted not to the pursuit of power or personal interests, but of the common good."
Said the president-elect, "America is so much better than what we've seen today."
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