Trump condemns Capitol riot; DeVos, US Capitol Police chief to resign

January 8, 2021

U.S. Capitol Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Donald Trump is conceding to President-elect Joe Biden and condemning the violent supporters who stormed the nation’s Capitol Wednesday.

In a new video message, Trump said that now that Congress has certified the results, the “new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20” and his “focus now turns to ensuring a smooth orderly and seamless transition of power.”


What to know

  • FBI wants info on Trump rioters
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigns after Capitol insurrection, saying Trump “rhetoric” was “inflection point”
  • A U.S. Capitol Police officer died Thursday, the agency told WTOP in a statement.
  • A woman shot inside the Capitol has died; three others died after medical emergencies
  • Trump spoke to supporters in a video, which has since been removed, telling them to “go home” but also excusing their violent behavior repeatedly
  • Republicans consider 25th Amendment to remove Trump

He also called what happened at the Capitol, a “heinous attack” that left him “outraged by the violence lawlessness and mayhem.”

However, he made no mention of his part in instigating the crowd to storm the seat of Congress, as members were tallying the Electoral Vote count that would affirm Joe Biden’s win.

Instead he told his supporters that, while he knows they are “disappointed,” he wants them to know “our incredible journey is only just beginning.”

Here’s what to know.

Capitol Police officer dies

A U.S. Capitol Police officer has died after suffering injuries while responding to Wednesday’s riots, a spokeswoman said.

Officer Brian D. Sicknick died about 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

Sicknick was “injured while physically engaging with protesters,” the spokeswoman said. Once he returned to his office, he collapsed and was taken to a local hospital.

The Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Branch, in conjunction with USCP and its federal partners, is investigating Sicknick’s death.

Sicknick joined the agency in July 2008 and most recently served in its first responder’s unit.

“The entire USCP Department expresses its deepest sympathies to Officer Sicknick’s family and friends on their loss, and mourns the loss of a friend and colleague,” the agency said in a statement.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser expressed her condolences in a statement.

“On behalf of the residents of the District of Columbia, our thoughts & prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of United States Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick.

May he Rest In Peace, and we work tirelessly to honor his service to the Congress and our nation.”

Democratic leaders of the House Appropriations Committee said the “tragic loss” of a Capitol police officer “should remind all of us of the bravery of the law enforcement officers who protected us, our colleagues, Congressional staff, the press corps and other essential workers″ during the hourslong takeover of the Capitol by pro-Trump protesters.

Staff resignations

A number of White House aides were discussing a potential mass resignation, according to people familiar with the conversation. And others quickly departed.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has become the second Cabinet secretary to resign a day after a pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In a resignation letter Thursday, DeVos blamed Trump for inflaming tensions in the violent assault on the seat of the nation’s democracy. She says, “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao tendered her resignation earlier Thursday. News of DeVos’ resignation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

In a farewell letter to Congress earlier this week, DeVos urged lawmakers to reject policies supported by President-elect Joe Biden, and to protect Trump administration policies that Biden has promised to eliminate.

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s chief of staff and a former White House press secretary, submitted her resignation Wednesday.

Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, White House social secretary Rickie Niceta and deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews also resigned, according to officials.

Mick Mulvaney, special envoy to Northern Ireland and former White House Chief of Staff, also resigned.

More departures were expected in the coming days, officials said.

U.S. Capitol Police chief to resign

The head of the U.S. Capitol Police will resign, effective next week, after Wednesday’s violent riot.

Calls for Chief Steven Sund’s resignation grew throughout the day as officials criticized the response to supporters of President Donald Trump storming and occupying the Capitol for hours, halting the effort by Congress to affirm the electoral vote count.

His resignation is effective Jan. 16. It was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.

As the cleanup continues, D.C. police on Thursday posted the pictures of people of interest in Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, hoping the public can help identify them.

The Capitol Police later called the violence “criminal riotous behavior,” and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser called the events “domestic terrorism.”

More than 90 people have been arrested so far, with more arrests likely.

Through Thursday, members of Congress and other elected officials of both parties are also calling for the end of Trump’s presidency, either by impeachment or via the 25th Amendment, over his incitement and continued encouragement of the rioters.

President-elect Joe Biden echoed Bowser’s words, calling the violent group that descended on the U.S. Capitol “domestic terrorists,” and laying the blame for the violence squarely at Trump’s feet.

During remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday, Biden said people should not call the hundreds of Trump supporters who broke into the Capitol “protesters,” and added that Trump has “made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done.”

WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez was outside the Capitol; Capitol Hill Correspondent Mitchell Miller was inside. You can read Alvarez’s firsthand account of Wednesday’s events here and Miller’s here.

Questions around police response

Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said the police force “responded valiantly” to the rioters who entered the House and Senate chambers and roamed the Capitol freely for several hours, ransacking offices and delaying the counting of Electoral College votes that sealed Biden’s victory over Trump.

Sund said Thursday that police had planned for a free speech demonstration and did not expect the violent attack. He said it was unlike anything he’d experienced in his 30 years in law enforcement.

Not everyone in the D.C. area agrees with Sund’s sentiment, at least as it applies to leadership.

Bowser called for a nonpartisan commission “to understand the catastrophic security failures that happened at the Capitol.” She said, “What happened yesterday was textbook terrorism.”

And a retired D.C. police chief said the leadership of the Capitol Police “failed the country,” pointing out the wide disparities in the reactions to Wednesday’s events and those of the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for Sund’s resignation, while House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, another key security official, had already submitted his resignation. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he’ll fire the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger.

Later Thursday afternoon, the head of the Capitol Police union also called on Sund to resign, saying the riot “should never have happened.” Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement that a lack of planning led to officers being exposed to violent protesters storming the Capitol and that officers lacked the backup and equipment needed to control rioters.

Police have been criticized for not immediately arresting many people who stormed the Capitol. Papathanasiou said, “Once the breach of the Capitol building was inevitable, we prioritized lives over property, leading people to safety.”

DC NAACP: ‘Sickening’ watching Capitol Police react so calmly’

The D.C. branch of the NAACP First Vice President Douglass Sloan said what happened at the Capitol Wednesday was not a protest like the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, but a coup d’etat.

Sloan watched from a rooftop across the street as the crowd descended on and “laid siege” to the U.S. Capitol.

“And, you know, we haven’t had an attack on our U.S. Capitol since the British sacked it and burned it to the ground in the War of 1812. So, it’s been over 200 years, since any group has laid siege to our Capitol. So this was really, really quite astounding,” Sloan said.

On Aug. 24, 1814, as the War of 1812 raged on, invading British troops marched into Washington and set fire to the U.S. Capitol, the President’s Mansion, and other local landmarks, according to the Senate website.

Sloan addressed the difference in how law enforcement mobilized during the Black Lives Matter protests and the “violent mob” that attacked the Capitol.

“Capitol police were completely derelict in their duty in protecting the people’s house, in protecting the U.S. Capitol. It was just horrible watching that. I mean, it was just sickening watching them react so calmly,” Sloan said.

Sloan said how the rioters were treated was “white privilege at work,” and if the rioters had been Black, they would have been “violently suppressed before anyone breached the outer perimeter.”

Biden noted the double standard.

“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday … they would have been treated very, very differently than a mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” Biden said.

4 dead in attack

A woman identified as Ashli Babbitt, 35, of California, was killed by a Capitol Police officer in the building as people tried to force their way into the House chamber, Sund said in the statement.

Three others died of medical emergencies in the chaos. The D.C. police identified them as Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia; Kevin Greeson, 55, of Athens, Alabama; and Benjamin Philips, 50, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania.

More than 90 people have been arrested so far and more arrests are likely.

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a statement that federal prosecutors “have been working throughout the night” with the D.C. police, the Capitol Police, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to identify more suspects.

More rioters will be charged Thursday, “and we will continue to methodically assess evidence, charge crimes and make arrests in the coming days and weeks to ensure that those responsible are held accountable under the law.”

White House spokeswoman: Violence ‘reprehensible’

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany compared Wednesday’s rioting to the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, thanked the police and called the people who broke into the Capitol “a group of violent rioters undermining the legitimate First Amendment rights of the many thousands who came to peacefully have their voices heard in our nation’s capital” in brief remarks.

Despite the fact that the people who attacked the Capitol came directly from a Trump speech, McEnany said, “Those who violently besieged our Capitol are the opposite of everything this administration stands for.” She said the core value of the Trump administration is for “all citizens have the right to live in safety, peace and freedom.”

She said the administration was working toward a peaceful, orderly transition and added, “Now, it is time to America to unite, to come together, to reject the violence that we have seen. We are one American people under God.”

McEnaney left quickly without taking questions, which were being shouted at her, including why Trump himself was not speaking.

25th Amendment?

Meanwhile, several members of Congress, including the two top Democrats in Congress, have called for Trump’s removal from office via impeachment or the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, and several members of the administration have resigned.

Several Republicans nationwide, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, are echoing those calls.

What is the amendment and how does it work?

The president of the Virginia State Conference NAACP President Robert N. Barnett Jr. said the “insurrection” at the Capitol is the result of “years of hatred and bigotry that have been enabled by the president of the United States.”

The organization supports the impeachment of Trump and his disqualification from ever holding public office again. And it is demanding answers from Virginia representatives — Ben Cline, Bob Good, Morgan Griffith and Robert Wittman — who voted to overturn election results.

“Each of them must directly respond to the Black Virginians they represent. Why would they attempt to subvert the will of voters – especially Black voters – across the country by voting to overturn the election results?” Barnett said in statement.

Vice News Deputy D.C. Bureau Chief Todd Zwillich spoke with WTOP’s Dimitri Sotis and Michelle Basch about pressure to remove Donald Trump from office. Listen below.

Vice News Deputy DC Bureau Chief Todd Zwillich with WTOP’s Dimitri Sotis and Michelle Basch

Trump shut down on social media

Twitter and Facebook have suspended Trump’s accounts, which have been instrumental to his political rise, after he repeatedly couched his entreaties to rioters to go home Wednesday with more false claims that a “sacred landslide” victory was “stolen” from him — claims that have been proven false by election boards and in courtrooms all over the country.

Nevertheless, Congress confirmed Biden’s election triumph Thursday morning, trouncing GOP objections.

Trump supporters: No regrets

Two Trump supporters interviewed by WTOP on Thursday were given chances to condemn the violence, but didn’t.

Gary Phaneuf, of Staten Island, New York, was glib when asked about the events, saying, “It was real; it was real, wasn’t it?” Of the accusations of terrorism, he said, “Get a load of a bunch of terrorists.”

Phaneuf also said Babbitt’s death made her “a martyr,” adding, “We have a bloody red shirt to wave around.”

Andrew from Long Island, who did not share his last name, said, “I think we need to get our facts straight before we start pointing fingers and slinging our poop at each other,” and refused to draw conclusions.

“It seems … a bunch of Trump people, they marched to the Capitol, then a bunch of people got into the Capitol. I’m just connecting the dots but I don’t have any evidence,” he added. “Regardless of what anyone says about legality or right or wrong, it definitely grabbed a lot of people’s attention; that’s for sure.”

He claimed that after two months of failed challenges to the election, Trump supporters are “being heard but not listened to, and I think that’s part of the problem — why did they feel the need to storm in in the first place? Maybe instead of pointing fingers and calling each other bad names … maybe we should stop and try to have a little empathy and understand what the other guy is thinking.”

“We just want to let them know that we’re not happy with the job they’re doing,” Andrew said, referring to Congress. “Hopefully what they take away from this is that they need to do a lot better.”

And Adam, who also didn’t share his last name, wasn’t in D.C. on Wednesday, but hopped on a train after he heard about the riots. He described himself as a Bernie Sanders supporter who was inspired by what happened: “If you have the courage to storm Congress and go into Nancy Pelosi’s office, that’s something I want to be here for. I want to talk to those people.”

DC the day after siege

Early Thursday, extra police could be seen around D.C. as the city attempted to get back to normal.

WTOP’s John Domen reports from Capitol Hill.

D.C. is attempting to get back to normal but there is an increased police presence in the city. (WTOP/John Domen)

How the riot evolved

WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez and Ken Duffy spent Wednesday covering the rallies. Here’s a timeline of what the day looked like.

FBI seeks information on rioters

The FBI is looking for information on pro-Trump rioters who laid siege to the Capitol and the D.C. area on Wednesday.

“The FBI is accepting tips and digital media depicting rioting and violence in the U.S. Capitol Building and surrounding area in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021,” a release said.

“If you have witnessed unlawful violent actions, we urge you to submit any information, photos, or videos that could be relevant at fbi.gov/USCapitol.”

A form and contact information is provided online.

Election certified

Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over the Congressional joint session, announced the Biden-over-Trump tally: 306-232. The announcement came before 4 a.m.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in a statement posted to Twitter by aides. The facts do not bear him out.

Arizona and Pennsylvania were the only states to be challenged. Both efforts lost overwhelmingly.

What was it like inside the Capitol? A nightmare

Guns were drawn. A Trump flag hung on the Capitol. The graceful Rotunda reeked of tear gas. Glass shattered.

During the siege, the nation’s elected representatives scrambled to crouch under desks and don gas masks while police futilely tried to barricade the building.

It was one of the most jarring scenes ever to unfold in a seat of American political power.

House of Representatives members leave the floor of the House chamber as protesters try to break into the chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

They — lawmakers, staff members and more — hid under tables, hunkered in lockdowns, saying prayers and seeing the fruits of the country’s divisions up close and violent.

The Associated Press outlined the terror inside the Capitol as the Trump mob assaulted one of America’s most sacred spaces.

“Where are they?” a Trump supporter demanded in a crowd of dozens roaming the halls of the Capitol, bearing Trump flags and pounding on doors.

Pipe bombs found

Contee said that two pipe bombs have been recovered, one from the DNC and one from the RNC.

Ex-chief ‘sickened’ by riot

Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the West wall of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer told WTOP he would expect to be fired if he were still in charge when rioters broke windows, breached security and traipsed through “the people’s house.”

“Watching it, I was sickened,” Gainer told WTOP. “It was nearly heartbreaking to see them in the building, and do what they did in the chambers, and the members’ offices — it was equally disheartening to see our Capitol Police officers fighting hand-to-hand and having weapons out.”

DC under public emergency

Bowser issued an order extending the public emergency declared earlier Wednesday for a total of 15 days — until Jan. 21 at 3 p.m.

Bowser’s statement:

Today, First Amendment protests turned violent. Many persons came to the District armed and for the purpose of engaging in violence and destruction and have engaged in violence and destruction. They have fired chemical irritants, bricks, bottles, and guns. They have breached the security of the Capitol and their destructive and riotous behavior has the potential to spread beyond the Capitol. Their motivation is ongoing. Today, they sought to disrupt the Congressional proceedings relating to the acceptance of Electoral College votes. President Trump continues to fan rage and violence by contending that the Presidential election was invalid. Persons are dissatisfied with judicial rulings and the findings of State Boards of Elections, and some persons can be expected to continue their violent protests through the inauguration.

WTOP’s Colleen Kelleher, Jack Moore, Neal Augenstein, John Domen and Dick Uliano, and The Associated Press, contributed to this report.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2012 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He went to George Washington University as an undergraduate and is regularly surprised at the changes to the city since that faraway time.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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