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What’s inside the $1.9T COVID-19 bill passed by Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House approved a sweeping pandemic relief package over Republican opposition on Wednesday, sending it to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. The milestone political victory would provide $1,400 checks for most Americans and direct billions of dollars to schools, state and local governments, and businesses.

Democrats said their “American Rescue Plan” would help the country defeat the virus and nurse the economy back to health. Republicans criticized the $1.9 trillion package as more expensive than necessary and they complain it inflates the national debt and sends money to projects not directly tied to the pandemic. The measure follows five earlier virus bills totaling about $4 trillion that Congress has enacted since last spring.

A look at some highlights of the legislation:

AID TO THE UNEMPLOYED

Expanded unemployment benefits from the federal government would be extended through Sept. 6 at $300 a week. That’s on top of what beneficiaries are getting through their state unemployment insurance program. The first $10,200 of jobless benefits accrued in 2020 would be non-taxable for households with incomes under $150,000.

Additionally, the measure provides a 100% subsidy of COBRA health insurance premiums to ensure that laid-off workers can remain on their employer health plans at no cost through the end of September.

MORE CHECKS

The legislation provides a direct payment of $1,400 for a single taxpayer, or $2,800 for a married couple that files jointly, plus $1,400 per dependent. Individuals earning up to $75,000 would get the full amount, as would married couples with incomes up to $150,000.

The size of the check would shrink for those making slightly more, with a hard cut-off at $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for married couples.

Most Americans will be getting the full amount. The median household income was $68,703 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Biden said payments would start going out this month.

MONEY FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

The legislation would send $350 billion to state and local governments and tribal governments for costs incurred up until the end of 2024. The bill also requires that small states get at least the amount they received under virus legislation that Congress passed last March.

Many communities have taken hits to their tax base during the pandemic, but the impact varies from state to state and from town to town. Critics say the funding is not appropriately targeted and is far more than necessary with billions of dollars allocated last spring to states and communities still unspent.

AID TO SCHOOLS

The bill calls for about $130 billion in additional help to schools for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The money would be used to reduce class sizes and modify classrooms to enhance social distancing, install ventilation systems and purchase personal protective equipment. The money could also be used to hire more nurses, counselors and janitors, and to provide summer school.

Spending for colleges and universities would be boosted by about $40 billion, with the money used to defray an institution’s pandemic-related expenses and to provide emergency aid to students to cover expenses such as food and housing and computer equipment.

AID TO BUSINESSES

A new program for restaurants and bars hurt by the pandemic would receive $28.6 billion. The grants provide up to $10 million per company with a limit of $5 million per physical location. The grants can be used to cover payroll, rent, utilities and other operational expenses.

The bill also provides $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, a tiny fraction of what was allocated in previous legislation. The bill also allows more nonprofits to apply for loans that are designed to help borrowers meet their payroll and operating costs and can potentially be forgiven.

TESTING AND VACCINES

The bill provides about $50 billion to expand testing for COVID-19 and to enhance contract tracing capabilities with new investments to expand laboratory capacity and set up mobile testing units. It also contains more than $15 billion to speed up the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines across the country. Another $1 billion would go to boost vaccine confidence. And $10 billion would be used to boost the supply of medical devices and equipment to combat the virus under the Defense Production Act.

HEALTH CARE

Parts of the legislation advance longstanding Democratic priorities like increasing coverage under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. Financial assistance for ACA premiums would become considerably more generous and a greater number of solid middle-class households would qualify. Though the sweetened subsidies last only through the end of 2022, they will lower the cost of coverage and are expected to boost the number of people enrolled.

The measure also dangles more money in front of a dozen states, mainly in the South, that have not yet taken up the Medicaid expansion that is available under the ACA to cover more low-income adults. Whether such a sweetener would be enough to start wearing down longstanding Republican opposition to Medicaid expansion is uncertain.

The bill would also provide abut $3 billion for states to help address mental health and substance use disorders, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. More than $14 billion is directed toward increased support for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

BIGGER TAX BREAKS FOR HOUSEHOLDS WITH AND WITHOUT KIDS

Under current law, most taxpayers can reduce their federal income tax bill by up to $2,000 per child. In a significant change, the bill would increase the tax break to $3,000 for every child age 6 to 17 and $3,600 for every child under the age of 6.

The legislation also calls for the payments to be delivered monthly instead of in a lump sum. If the secretary of the treasury determines that isn’t feasible, then the payments are to be made as frequently as possible.

Families would get the full credit regardless of how little they make in a year, leading to criticism that the changes would serve as a disincentive to work. Add in the $1,400 checks and other items in the proposal, and the legislation would reduce the number of children living in poverty by more than half, according to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University.

The bill also significantly expands the Earned Income Tax Credit for 2021 by making it available to people without children. The credit for low and moderate-income adults would be worth $543 to $1,502, depending on income and filing status.

RENTAL AND HOMEOWNER ASSISTANCE

The bill provides more than $30 billion to help low-income households pay their rent and to assist the homeless. States and tribes would receive an additional $10 billion for homeowners who are struggling with mortgage payments and other housing costs because of the pandemic.

Tahoe ski resort facing lawsuit over fatal avalanche last season

A North Lake Tahoe ski resort is being sued over an inbounds avalanche that killed one and seriously injured another last season.

The lawsuit against Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, owned by Alterra Mountain Company, is seeking damages for negligence, gross negligence and breach of contract.

The suit was filed on Feb. 2 by Ellis Law Group, LLP who is representing Kayley Bloom, in Placer County Superior Court. It alleges Alpine Meadows personnel failed to mitigate avalanche danger and that the run where the fatal event happened should not have been opened after being closed the previous day due to heavy snowfall. About 25 inches of fresh snow was reported on the upper mountain from a storm the day before.

The avalanche happened at about 10 a.m. on Jan. 17, 2020 and claimed the life of 34-year-old Cole Comstock, of Blairsden, Calif., and seriously injured Bloom, the Tribune previously reported.

The plaintiff and Comstock were skiing an inbounds run between Scott Chute and Promised Land near Scott Chair when the snowslide occurred. The lawsuit alleges the run had been closed the day before and “had been unsuccessfully bombed earlier that morning in an attempt to mitigate” avalanche danger.

The plaintiff states he saw Comstock get caught up in the avalanche a moment before he was overtaken.

The plaintiff alleges the resort was in a rush to open ski runs because it was a holiday weekend and the unsuccessful mitigation efforts led to Bloom suffering severe and permanent lower body injuries.

A case management conference has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 1, at the Justice Center in Roseville.

The suit does not specify damages sought other than that it exceeds $25,000.

An avalanche occurred in the advanced area above Alpine Meadows’ Subway lift last year. The incident caused a fatality and seriously injured another man. Justin Scacco / Sierra Sun

7 ways Joe Biden’s presidency may quickly affect Colorado

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP

As President Joe Biden takes office Wednesday, the new administration and a new party in power will usher in immediate changes, some of which will have a disproportionate impact on Colorado.

Democrats in control of both the House and Senate, and Vice President Kamala Harris to serve as a tie-breaker in the upper chamber, give Biden’s legislative agenda — including a $1.9 trillion emergency coronavirus relief package — a greater chance of making it through. Although, with a 50-50 split in the Senate between Democrats and Republicans, Biden will still sometimes need Republican support.

It also gives Colorado Democrats a greater platform, especially as U.S. House Representatives Diana DeGette and Joe Neguse are expected to present the party’s argument for impeaching former President Donald Trump during the upcoming Senate impeachment trial.

From policies to curb the devastating impact of wildfires to decisions about where agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Space Command call home, we highlight some of Biden’s early proposals, campaign promises and appointments that will impact Colorado.

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

Biden sworn in as nation’s 46th president

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.(Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) —

Joe Biden has officially become the 46th president of the United States.

Biden took the oath of office just before noon Wednesday during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. The presidential oath was administered by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biden was sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013. The 5-inch thick Bible, which could be seen on a table next to Biden’s chair on the dais, has a Celtic cross on its cover and was also used each time he was sworn- n as a U.S. senator.

Biden’s late son, Beau, also used the Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware and helped carry the Bible to his father’s 2013 ceremony.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION AS THE 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT:

Joe Biden swears the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.

Read more:

— On Day One, Biden to undo Trump policies on climate, virus

— Biden’s first act: Orders on pandemic, climate, immigration

— Biden charts new US direction, promises many Trump reversals

DC on lockdown and on edge before Biden’s inauguration

Vice President Harris: A new chapter opens in US politics

Analysis: For Biden, chance to turn crisis into opportunity

What to Watch: An inauguration unlike any other amid pandemic, unrest

Trump pardons ex-strategist Steve Bannon, dozens of others

— Trump frees former aides from ethics pledge, lobbying ban

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

11:45 a.m.

Kamala Harris has been sworn in as the nation’s first female vice president.

The former U.S. senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and becomes the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.

She was sworn in Wednesday by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court. Vice President Mike Pence, standing in for President Donald Trump, was sitting nearby as Lady Gaga sang the national anthem accompanied by the U.S. Marine Corps band.

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11:40 a.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump has pardoned Al Pirro, the ex-husband of Fox News Channel host and Trump ally Jeanine Pirro.

The pardon for Al Pirro is in addition to the 143 pardons and sentence commutations that Trump announced earlier Wednesday. Pirro’s pardon was announced just after Trump landed in Florida after leaving the White House and before Joe Biden was inaugurated as the nation’s 46th president.

Jeanine Pirro hosts Fox News Channel’s “Justice with Judge Jeanine.”

Al Pirro was convicted of conspiracy and tax evasion charges and sentenced to more than two years in prison in 2000.

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11:35 a.m.

President Joe Biden has chosen career diplomat Daniel Smith to serve as acting secretary of state until his pick for top diplomat, Antony Blinken, is confirmed by the Senate.

Smith currently runs the Foreign Service Institute that trains U.S. diplomats and is a former ambassador to Greece.

Current and incoming U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday of his temporary appointment, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement. Biden is set to be sworn in at noon as the 46th president of the United States.

Blinken had a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, and his confirmation is not expected to face obstacles. He would succeed President Donald Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

— By AP writer Matthew Lee

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11:20 a.m.

Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration ceremony has begun.

Biden swears the oath of office at noon Wednesday, becoming the 46th president of the United States. The Democrat is preparing to take the helm of a deeply divided nation and inherit crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.

History will be made at Biden’s side, as Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to be vice president.

The ceremony in which presidential power is transferred is a hallowed American democratic tradition. And this time it serves as a jarring reminder of the challenges Biden faces: The inauguration unfolds at a U.S. Capitol battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks ago, encircled by security forces. It’s devoid of crowds because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

Flouting tradition, Donald Trump departed Washington on Wednesday morning ahead of the inauguration rather than accompany his successor to the Capitol.

Former Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are attending.

The other living former president, 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, previously announced he would not attend.

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11:10 a.m.

Three Supreme Court justices are absent from President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, citing health risks from the coronavirus pandemic.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito did not join the others on the west front of the Capitol Wednesday. Breyer is 82, the oldest member of the court. Thomas is 72 and Alito is 70.

Supreme Court spokesperson Kathy Arberg says some members of the court “elected not to attend the inauguration ceremony in light of the public health risks posed by the COVID pandemic.”

The justices have begun receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, but it is not clear if they all have received both doses.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett and the other appointees of President Donald Trump, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were in attendance Wednesday, along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Roberts was to swear in Biden, while Sotomayor was giving the oath of office to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

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11:05 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence has arrived at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, were announced at inaugural festivities at the U.S. Capitol about one hour ahead of Biden’s expected swearing-in ceremony.

Pence is representing the outgoing Trump administration at Biden’s inaugural. President Donald Trump is skipping the festivities, departing Washington earlier in the day for the last time as sitting president.

Aboard Air Force One a final time, Trump landed in West Palm Beach, Florida, just before Pence’s arrival at the inaugural platform.

During remarks before his departure, Trump hinted at a comeback despite a legacy of chaos, tumult and bitter divisions in the country he led for four years, telling supporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland “We will be back in some form.”

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11:05 a.m.

A Capitol police officer hailed as a hero for his actions during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol is accompanying Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at the inauguration of Harris and President-elect Joe Biden.

Officer Eugene Goodman confronted the insurrectionists and led them away from Senate chambers moments after Vice President Mike Pence was escorted from the Senate chamber as the rioters stormed the Capitol.

Goodman is a Black man and was facing an overwhelmingly white mob. He is the only officer seen for a full minute on widely circulated footage captured by a news reporter. Goodman stands in front of the rioters and walks backward as the group follows him to a second-floor hallway, where other officers finally assist him.

A police spokeswoman says Goodman’s plainclothes assignment to accompany Harris “is a ceremonial role.″

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11 a.m.

Former Republican leaders and lawmakers are among those gathering at the Capitol for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was attending the Wednesday ceremony to “honor the process” after a year that he said tested the nation’s institutions. He said he was there “out of respect for the peaceful transfer of power.”

Former Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona says it’s “too bad” that outgoing President Donald Trump did not attend for “that handoff that the world can see.”

Flake is a Trump critic. He says he hopes it’s a “moment of renewal” for the nation. He says he thinks “Americans will sleep easier knowing that we have a more steady hand in the White House.”

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10:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived in Florida after leaving the White House for the final time as president.

Trump said farewell to Washington early Wednesday, leaving before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Trump’s plane flew low along the coast as Biden’s inauguration played on TV on Fox News Channel.

Trump’s family was on the plane with him. He spent some of the flight meeting with flight staff, who went up to say goodbye.

Trump has hinted about a comeback despite a legacy of chaos, tumult and bitter divisions in the country he led for four years.

Trump spoke to supporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where he walked across a red carpet and boarded Air Force One to head to Florida. He said: “So just a goodbye. We love you.” And the 45th president added, “We will be back in some form.”

Trump departs office as the only president ever impeached twice, and with millions more out of work than when he was sworn in and 400,000 dead from the coronavirus.

___

10:35 a.m.

President-elect Joe Biden has arrived at the U.S. Capitol ahead of his inauguration as the United States’ 46th president.

Biden and his wife, Jill, arrived at the complex on Wednesday morning, about 90 minutes before his noon swearing-in ceremony. They were accompanied by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, and were greeted by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

The president-elect’s motorcade wound its way through a mostly deserted Washington following a morning church service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Streets that would typically be lined with thousands of inaugural onlookers were ringed instead with a massive security presence to include military vehicles and armed troops.

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington following the violent melee at the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago.

Biden paused to wave from the Capitol steps before entering the building.

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10:25 a.m.

All of the former U.S. presidents attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration have arrived at the U.S. Capitol.

George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, were first to arrive at the complex on Wednesday morning, several hours before Biden’s swearing-in ceremony.

Barack and Michelle Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton followed shortly thereafter, with each couple arriving in separate motorcades.

The other living former president, 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, previously announced he would not attend Biden’s inauguration. Carter and his wife, 93-year-old Rosalynn Carter, have largely spent the coronavirus pandemic at their home in Plains, Georgia.

Carter had been the first former president to confirm that he was attending Donald Trump’s inaugural in 2017.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump departed Washington earlier Wednesday, skipping the Biden inaugural festivities and heading straight to their home in Florida. Trump is the first president since Andrew Johnson not to attend the inauguration of his successor.

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10:20 a.m.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are showcasing American designers at their inauguration.

The president-elect is wearing a navy suit and navy overcoat by Ralph Lauren. Jill Biden is wearing an ocean-blue wool tweed coat and dress by American designer Alexandra O’Neill of the Markarian label.

Aides say Harris is wearing Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson. Both are Black designers, Rogers from Louisiana and Hudson from South Carolina.

Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, wore a Ralph Lauren suit on Wednesday.

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9:50 a.m.

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen will resign when President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office.

The Justice Department says Rosen’s resignation goes into effect at noon Wednesday.

Rosen has run the department since former Attorney General William Barr resigned on Dec. 23. He was previously the deputy attorney general and deputy transportation secretary.

Rosen has kept a low profile since he assumed the top job at the Justice Department. He has not held a press conference or addressed the press corps since he took the role, even after a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. He has only released pre-recorded videos discussing the matter and issued statements.

Longtime Justice Department official Monty Wilkinson is expected to assume the role of acting attorney general while Judge Merrick Garland awaits confirmation by the Senate.

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9:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump has followed at least one presidential tradition.

The White House says the Republican president left behind a note for his successor, Democrat Joe Biden.

Deputy press secretary Judd Deere declined to reveal what Trump wrote to Biden or to characterize the sentiment in the note, citing privacy for communication between presidents.

Trump has refused to publicly concede to Biden and did not mention the Democrat by name in a pair of farewell addresses.

Trump interrupted many traditions of the presidency, including by not attending Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. Trump also did not invite Biden to the White House for a meeting after Biden was declared the winner of November’s presidential election

Trump left the White House for the final time as president on Wednesday morning, saying, “It’s been a great honor, the honor of a lifetime.”

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9:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he thinks the new administration will have “great success” and claims to have laid the foundation for it.

Trump says the new administration has the “foundation to do something really spectacular.” He made brief farewell remarks at Maryland’s Joint Base Andrews before he boarded Air Force One for a flight to his Florida home.

Trump did not mention President-elect Joe Biden by name during his Wednesday remarks.

Trump told cheering, chanting supporters he’ll be watching and listening from a distance. He promised he will be back “in some form” and wished the crowd a “good life” before he and his wife boarded the plane.

Trump wanted to be in Florida before Biden becomes president at noon.

___

8:35 a.m.

President-elect Joe Biden is attending church ahead of his inauguration, a traditional step taken ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.

Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden on Wednesday are attending a service at Washington’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. With them are incoming Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff.

At Biden’s invitation, the first couple is joined by a bipartisan group of members of Congress, including all four top-ranking members of congressional leadership.

That includes both Senate leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Chuck Schumer, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Many presidents have chosen St. John’s Episcopal Church, sometimes called “Church of the Presidents,” for the inaugural day service. Biden is the second Catholic U.S. president, and St. Matthew’s is the seat of the Catholic archbishop of Washington.

Biden spent Tuesday night at Blair House, a traditional move ahead of a president’s inauguration.

___

8:15 a.m.

Donald Trump has left the White House for the final time as president.

Trump emerged from the building Wednesday morning and strode across the South Lawn to board Marine One. He said, “It’s been a great honor, the honor of a lifetime.”

Trump now heads to Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland, where he’ll have a military sendoff. A red carpet has been placed on the tarmac for Trump to walk as he boards the plane. Four U.S. Army cannons are set up for a 21-gun salute. Trump then flies to Florida, where he’ll stay at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump is leaving Washington just hours before Joe Biden takes the oath of office as the 46th president. It’s the first time in more than a century that a sitting president has rejected the tradition of attending his successor’s inauguration.

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7:45 a.m.

Two of the Biden administration’s top communications officials are describing the incoming president’s inaugural address as a forward-looking speech that will make little to no mention of his predecessor.

Communications director Kate Bedingfield told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday that President-elect Joe Biden’s address would “speak to the moment that we are in, but it will also lay out a vision for the future.”

Biden press secretary Jen Psaki tells CNN that Biden’s inaugural address is “definitely not a speech about Donald Trump” and she “wouldn’t expect” to hear about him in it.

Bedingfield says Biden had not had any contact with the outgoing president.

Asked why Biden had invited political opponents including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to join him at a Mass on Wednesday morning, Psaki said it “felt important to him personally to have members of both parties … and use that as an example to the American public.”

Bedingfield says Biden will sign 15 executive orders in some of his first moves as president.

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7:35 a.m.

As the sun rose over Washington’s Freedom Plaza between the U.S. Capitol and the White House ahead of Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, clusters of soldiers in full battle fatigues clustered inside metal barriers erected to restrict access to the procession route.

Some yellow placards on the barriers read “Biden-Harris 2021,” while others carried the seal of the presidency or inaugural insignias. American and District of Columbia flags flapped in high winds.

Traffic has been blocked off nearby in all directions. Revelers have been told to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Most offices in the surrounding buildings are closed, many boarded up with plywood to prevent damage in case violence breaks out Wednesday.

But one tall office building in view of the procession route has been fitted with towering signs reading “Welcome, Mr. President” and “Welcome Madam Vice President,” for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

After being sworn in, Biden is set to inspect the readiness of military troops in a traditional “pass in review.”

President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol for Biden in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, right, meets former First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Barack Obama before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
President-elect Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff arrive at the steps of the U.S. Capitol for the start of the official inauguration ceremonies, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol for President-elect Joe Biden in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., speak with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and his wife Iris Weinshall before the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Former President Bill Clinton and his wife former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol for President-elect Joe Biden in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol for President-elect Joe Biden in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman stands during a dress rehearsal for the 59th inaugural ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Washington. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)
A law enforcement personnel monitors the area during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, and former President George Bush, take a selfie before the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill, walk out for the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Final preparations are made on the platform ahead of President-elect Joe Biden being sworn-in during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

‘MLK/FBI’ probes when bureau bugged Martin Luther King Jr.

FILE - In this Aug. 28, 1963 file photo, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, speaks to thousands during his "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in Washington. A new documentary “MLK/FBI,” shows how FBI director J. Edgar Hoover used the full force of his federal law enforcement agency to attack King and his progressive, nonviolent cause. That included wiretaps, blackmail and informers, trying to find dirt on King. (AP Photo/File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The opening images of the documentary “MLK/FBI” include footage from the 1963 march on the Washington Mall that, today, is all the more striking for the protesters’ peacefulness.

The march culminated in one of the most indelible moments of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. And as familiar as the scene is, it could hardly stand in starker contrast to the recent U.S. Capitol riot. Here is a mass of humanity assembled in the nonviolent spirit of the movement’s leader.

Yet only two days later, on Aug. 28, 1963, the FBI’s head of domestic intelligence, William C. Sullivan, sounded an internal alarm on King.

“We must mark him now as the most dangerous Negro in the future of this nation,” Sullivan wrote in an FBI memo.

“MLK/FBI,” which IFC Films will release in theaters and on-demand Friday, chronicles one of the darkest chapters in the bureau’s history: the yearslong surveillance and harassment of King. Where others saw a leader of the highest order, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI saw a suspect — a potential communist and a threat to white America.

Beginning in November 1963 and until his assassination in April 1968, the FBI wiretapped King’s telephone lines, bugged his hotel rooms and relied on informants close to him. It used the evidence gathered on King’s extramarital affairs to pressure King, and, most gallingly, to urge him to kill himself in a letter that read: “You know what you need to do.” In the film, former FBI director James Comey calls the letter a historical low for the bureau.

Details have gradually emerged on the FBI’s investigation, which was carried out with approval from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and later, with the support of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Some FBI documents have been released over the years, though much remains heavily redacted. “MLK/FBI” is based on the 1981 book “The FBI and Martin Luther King Jr.: From ‘Solo’ to Memphis” by David Garrow, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1986 biography of King, “Bearing the Cross.”

For the filmmakers, digging into the FBI’s materials on King raised ethical questions. Doing so would illuminate a sinister side to a federal institution often mythologized in film. But it would also mean wading through information about King that ought never to have been gathered.

Director Sam Pollard, a veteran editor known for his collaborations with Spike Lee (“4 Little Girls,” “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts”), had used Garrow as a consultant on an episode he co-directed of the landmark 1987 documentary series “Eyes on the Prize.” Producer Benjamin Hedin suggested the project to Pollard.

“The question that Ben and I kept asking ourselves over and over again: Were we actually doing what the FBI was trying to do so many years ago — are we now doing that to King and his legacy?” says Pollard, speaking by Zoom from his New York apartment. “It wasn’t easy to say, ‘No we’re not. Absolutely not.’ In some ways, you could even say we were a little bit complicit.”

On one hand, “MLK/FBI” enhances the legacy of King. Seeing his composure, while under such intense pressure, only heightens his accomplishments. The film includes copious restored footage and candid photographs of a more mortal but no less extraordinary King.

Yale historian Beverly Gage, a prominent expert in the film who’s writing a biography of Hoover, believes “MLK/FBI” is “righteous and complicated in all the right ways.”

“It’s easy for us to forget about in this moment where King is such a sanctified figure just how many people not only criticized him but attempted to undermine him,” says Gage. “Beginning with the FBI but including lots and lots of other people in the government and American society as a whole.”

But in delving into the FBI’s dubious bugging of King, “MLK/FBI” couldn’t avoid facing some of the more difficult aspects of the civil rights leader’s legacy. Not just King’s indiscretions but an explosive and controversial allegation discovered by Garrow in FBI records that King watched while a woman was sexually assaulted.

Many historians have doubted whether the information noted offhand by agents engaged in a smear campaign of King constitutes a strong enough basis for such a serious allegation.

King’s lawyer, Clarence B. Jones, has denied the claims. The King Center didn’t respond to requests for comment for this article.

“MLK/FBI” probes the allegation with measured skepticism.

“We knew we had to deal with it,” says Pollard. “But our responsibility and our challenge was to deal with it in a way that we thought wasn’t going to be tawdry but responsible.”

Garrow stands by his research.

“A big part of my thinking two years ago is that everyone needs to be prepared for what will be in the full transcripts and the surviving tapes,” Garrow said.

The FBI’s recordings of King are under court seal at the National Archives until Jan. 31, 2027. Their release will surely offset a new round of research into King and the FBI’s heinous program — and, maybe, an update to “MLK/FBI.”

“Every time I would read one of the documents that was heavily redacted I would say, ‘Damn, what does it really sound like?’” says Pollard. “As a filmmaker, it would have been gold to have the tapes. Honestly, we may have to revisit this film when those tapes come out to make an addendum.”

But access to the tapes might also have blurred the focus of Pollard’s film. Nothing in them can change what King did for civil rights and the United States. More important is to understand how institutional forces worked tirelessly to destroy one of the country’s greatest Black leaders.

“In many ways, what we saw last Wednesday wasn’t an anomaly,” says Pollard, referring to the violent Capitol siege carried out partly by noted white nationalists. “It’s in the DNA of America.”

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

FILE - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington, D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963. A new documentary “MLK/FBI,” shows how FBI director J. Edgar Hoover used the full force of his federal law enforcement agency to attack King and his progressive, nonviolent cause. That included wiretaps, blackmail and informers, trying to find dirt on King. (AP Photo/File)
This image released by IFC Films shows poster art for "MLK/FBI," a documentary that shows how FBI director J. Edgar Hoover used the full force of his federal law enforcement agency to attack King and his progressive, nonviolent cause. That included wiretaps, blackmail and informers, trying to find dirt on King. (IFC Films via AP)

Lauren Boebert vowed to shake things up in Congress. She has delivered in her first week.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., center, smiles after joining other freshman Republican House members for a group photo at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

As she barnstormed across the 3rd Congressional District last year with a pistol on her hip and a steady stream of Democrat-aimed insults rolling off her tongue, Lauren Boebert promised to make a big, loud splash in the nation’s capital if voters sent her to Congress.

Colorado’s newest U.S. representative has delivered on that – in spades – and in just one week.

Since she was sworn in on Jan. 2, Boebert has been the focus of more ink and air time than she ever racked up at Shooters Grill, her Rifle restaurant where she first took her star turn in the media for serving burgers and fries with a holstered gun and having all her waitresses do the same.

The high school dropout with a history of minor run-ins with the law has used her first tumultuous week in office to cement her far-right and extremist credentials while also setting off a widespread roar of criticism that includes calls and petitions for her resignation, her expulsion from Congress and her prosecution for alleged “sedition” connected to the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Critics now include fellow congressional representatives — including Republicans — and Democratic elected officials throughout the 3rd District.

Read more from Nancy Lofholm, The Colorado Sun.

Trump concedes to Biden and condemns Capitol riot

A Marine stands outside the entrance to the West Wing of the White House, signifying President Donald Trump is in the Oval Office, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON (AP) — With 12 days left in his term, President Donald Trump has finally bent to reality amid growing talk of trying to force him out early, acknowledging he’ll peacefully leave after Congress affirmed his defeat.

Trump led off a video from the White House Thursday by condemning the violence carried out in his name a day earlier at the Capitol. Then, for the first time on camera, he admitted his presidency would soon end — though he declined to mention President-elect Joe Biden by name or explicitly state he had lost.

“A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20,” Trump said in the video. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”

The address, which appeared designed to stave off talk of a forced early eviction, came at the end of a day when the cornered president stayed out of sight in the White House. Silenced on some of his favorite internet lines of communication, he watched the resignations of several top aides, including two Cabinet secretaries.

And as officials sifted through the aftermath of the pro-Trump mob’s siege of the U.S. Capitol, there was growing discussion of impeaching him a second time or invoking the 25th Amendment to oust him from the Oval Office.

The invasion of the Capitol building, a powerful symbol of the nation’s democracy, rattled Republicans and Democrats alike. They struggled with how best to contain the impulses of a president deemed too dangerous to control his own social media accounts but who remains commander in chief of the world’s greatest military.

“I’m not worried about the next election, I’m worried about getting through the next 14 days,” said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Trump’s staunchest allies. He condemned the president’s role in Wednesday’s riots and said, “If something else happens, all options would be on the table.”

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that “the president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America.” She called him “a very dangerous person who should not continue in office. This is urgent, an emergency of the highest magnitude.”

Neither option to remove Trump seemed likely, with little time left in his term to draft the Cabinet members needed to invoke the amendment or to organize the hearings and trial mandated for an impeachment. But the fact that the dramatic options were even the subject of discussion in Washington’s corridors of power served as a warning to Trump.

Fears of what a desperate president could do in his final days spread in the nation’s capital and beyond, including speculation Trump could incite more violence, make rash appointments, issue ill-conceived pardons — including for himself and his family — or even trigger a destabilizing international incident.

The president’s video Thursday — which was released upon his return to Twitter after his account was restored — was a complete reversal from the one he put out just 24 hours earlier in which he said to the violent mob: “We love you. You’re very special.” His refusal to condemn the violence sparked a firestorm of criticism and, in the new video, he at last denounced the demonstrators’ “lawlessness and mayhem.”

Aides said the video was also meant to slow the mass exodus of staffers and ward off potential legal trouble for Trump once he leaves office; White House counsel Pat Cipollone has repeatedly warned the president that he could be deemed responsible for inciting Wednesday’s violence.

As for his feelings on leaving office, Trump told the nation that “serving as your president has been the honor of my lifetime” while hinting at a return to the public arena. He told supporters “our incredible journey is only just beginning.”

Just a day earlier, Trump unleashed the destructive forces at the Capitol with his baseless claims of election fraud at a rally that prompted supporters to disrupt the congressional certification of Biden’s victory. After the storming of the Capitol and the eventual wee-hours certification of Biden’s win by members of Congress, Trump released a statement that acknowledged he would abide by a peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 20.

The statement was posted by an aide and did not originate from the president’s own Twitter account, which has 88 million followers and for four years has been wielded as a political weapon that dictates policy and sows division and conspiracy.

Trump couldn’t tweet it himself because, for the first time, the social media platform suspended his account, stating that the president had violated its rules of service by inciting violence. Facebook adopted a broader ban, saying Trump’s account would be offline until after Biden’s inauguration.

Deprived of that social media lifeblood, Trump remained silent and ensconced in the executive mansion until Thursday evening. But around him, loyalists headed for the exits, their departures — which were coming in two weeks anyway — moved up to protest the president’s handling of the riot.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao became the first Cabinet member to resign. Chao, married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the lawmakers trapped at the Capitol on Wednesday, said in a message to staff that the attack “has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos followed. In her resignation letter Thursday, DeVos blamed Trump for inflaming tensions in the violent assault on the seat of the nation’s democracy. “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me,” she wrote.

Others who resigned in the wake of the riot: Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger; Ryan Tully, senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council; and first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham, a former White House press secretary.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff-turned-special envoy to Northern Ireland, told CNBC that he had called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “to let him know I was resigning. … I can’t do it. I can’t stay.”

Mulvaney said others who work for Trump had decided to remain in their posts in an effort to provide some sort of guardrails for the president during his final days in office.

“Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in,” Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney’s predecessor in the chief of staff job, retired U.S. Marine Corps general John Kelly, told CNN that “I think the Cabinet should meet and have a discussion” about Section 4 of the 25th Amendment — allowing the forceful removal of Trump by his own Cabinet.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer joined Pelosi in declaring that Trump “should not hold office one day longer” and urged Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to act. But Chao’s departure may stall nascent efforts to invoke the amendment.

Staff-level discussions on the matter took place across multiple departments and even in parts of the White House, according to two people briefed on the talks. But no member of the Cabinet has publicly expressed support for the move — which would make Pence the acting president — though several were believed to be sympathetic to the notion, believing Trump is too volatile in his waning days in office.

In the West Wing, shell-shocked aides were packing up, acting on a delayed directive to begin offboarding their posts ahead of the Biden team’s arrival. The slowdown before now was due to Trump’s single-minded focus on his defeat since Election Day at the expense of the other responsibilities of his office.

Most glaringly, that included the fight against the raging coronavirus that is killing record numbers of Americans each day.

Few aides had any sense of the president’s plans, with some wondering if Trump would largely remain out of sight until he left the White House. But the president has asked aides to explore a possible valedictory trip next week to the southern border as a means to highlight his immigration policies.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday read a brief statement in which she declared that the Capitol siege was “appalling, reprehensible and antithetical to the American way.”

But her words carried little weight. Trump has long made clear that only he speaks for his presidency.

___

Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed reporting from Washington.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks at the White House, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany departs after delivering a statement at the White House, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump speaks during a rally protesting the electoral college certification of Joe Biden as President, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Updates: Congressional leaders reconvene to certify Biden victory after mob cleared from Capitol

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress’ tally of the Electoral College vote won by Joe Biden (all times local):

9:15 p.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election win will show the world it won’t back down.

Pelosi made her comments as the House reconvened after being shut down for hours Wednesday by unruly pro-Trump protesters. She said that every four years the ritual provides an example to the world of American democracy.

Pelosi says, “Despite the shameful actions of today, we will still do so, we will be part of a history that shows the world what America is made of.”

Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, noted that Wednesday is the feast of the Epiphany and prayed that the violence would be “an epiphany to heal” for the country.

9:10 pm.: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is sending 1,000 members of the state’s National Guard to Washington, D.C., to help “the peaceful transition of presidential power.”

Cuomo, a Democrat, said 1,000 troops would be sent for up to two weeks at the request of U.S. National Guard officials. It comes after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters rampaged through the U.S. Capitol.

Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday: “For 244 years, the cornerstone of our democracy has been the peaceful transfer of power, and New York stands ready to help ensure the will of the American people is carried out, safely and decisively.”

They will join law enforcement from Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey who are also coming to D.C.’s aid.

The president’s supporters incited chaos in a protest over a transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden. Trump convinced them that he was cheated out of a victory by rampant, widespread voter fraud, a false claim.

8:55 p.m.: Multiple Republican senators have reversed course and now say they won’t object to congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Their change of heart came after a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier Wednesday and interrupted their proceedings. One person was fatally shot.

Sens. Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Braun of Indiana and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia all said in light of the violence they would stand down from planned objections to Biden’s win.

Lawmakers gathered to certify the Electoral College votes from each state were forced to evacuate after an angry mob of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol. Loeffler said that the “violence, the lawlessness, and siege of the halls of Congress” were a “direct attack” on the “sanctity of the American democratic process.”

All three had previously signed on to Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud to explain his defeat. Loeffler has just days left in her term. She lost her Senate race to Democrat Raphael Warnock earlier Wednesday.

8:45 p.m.: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Congress “will not be deterred” in confirming the results of the presidential election hours after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The Republican leader reopened the Senate late Wednesday vowing to finish confirming the Electoral College for President-elect Joe Biden. It was interrupted earlier in the way when rioters breached the security perimeter and clashed with law enforcement before disrupting Congress’ tallying of the Electoral College votes. One person was fatally shot.

McConnell says demonstrators “tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed.”

McConnell plans to keep the Senate in session Wednesday to finish confirming the results.

Trump has repeatedly told his supporters that the November election was stolen from him, even though that is not true. He reiterated the claim in a video filmed as his demonstrators were storming the Capitol.

8:35 p.m.: Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says President Donald Trump “bears a great deal of the blame” after a mob loyal to him stormed the U.S. Capitol.

As the Senate reconvened to count electoral votes that will confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s win, Schumer said that Jan. 6, 2021, will “live forever in infamy” and will be a stain on the democracy.

Schumer said the events “did not happen spontaneously.”

He said Wednesday: “The president, who promoted conspiracy theories that motivated these thugs, the president, who exhorted them to come to our nation’s capital, egged them on.”

Trump has falsely claimed that there was widespread fraud in the election to explain away his defeat.

Schumer says the protesters should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

8:20 p.m.: Former President Barack Obama says history will rightly remember the violence at the Capitol as a moment of great dishonor and shame for the nation.

Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power.

Obama say the violence was “incited by a sitting president” who baselessly lied about the outcome of the presidential election. He has convinced his supporters that he lost the election to President-elect Joe Biden only because Democrats cheated, a false claim.

Obama says it should not have come as a surprise, and that for two months “a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth.”

He says “their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo.”

8:10 p.m.: The Senate has resumed debating the Republican challenge against Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, more than six hours after pro-Trump mobs attacked the Capitol and forced lawmakers to flee.

Scores of Republican representatives and 13 GOP senators had planned to object Wednesday to the electoral votes of perhaps six states that backed Biden. It was unclear whether those objections would continue in light of the day’s violent events.

President Donald Trump has falsely insisted that the election was marred by fraud and that he actually won. He reiterated those claims in remarks to thousands of protesters outside the White House early Wednesday and goaded them to march to the Capitol, which many of them did.

The mayhem had forced the House and Senate to abruptly end the day’s debates and flee to safety under the protection of police. And it prompted bipartisan outrage as many lawmakers blamed Trump for fostering the violence.

8:05 p.m.: Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned in protest over President Donald Trump’s Syria policies, blamed the president for the violence at the U.S. Capitol.

In a sharp rebuke Wednesday, Mattis said the violence was fomented by Trump, who has used the presidency “to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens.”

His written statement concluded, “Our Constitution and our Republic will overcome this stain and We the People will come together again in our never-ending effort to form a more perfect Union, while Mr. Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country.”

Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general who stepped down as Pentagon chief in December 2018, had an embattled relationship with Trump, but largely remained publicly quiet and avoided direct criticism. Since he left the job, however, he has been more openly derisive of Trump, including a pubilc condemnation of the president’s heavy-handed use of military force to quell protests near the White House last June.

7:55 p.m.: Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff and press secretary for first lady Melania Trump, has resigned following violent protests at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Grisham says in a statement Wednesday that it was an “honor” to serve the country in the White House and be part of he first lady’s “mission” to help children.

Grisham was one of Trump’s longest serving aides, having joined the campaign in 2015. She served as the White House press secretary and never held a press briefing.

Wednesday’s violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by the president’s supporters sparked renewed conversations inside the White House about mass resignations by mid-level aides who are responsible for operations of the office of the president.

Two people familiar with the conversations said the aides were torn between fears of what more would happen if they left and a desire to register their disgust with their boss. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

7:45 p.m.: The Republican National Committee says it strongly condemns the violence at the Capitol, adding that the violent scenes “do not represent acts of patriotism, but an attack on our country and its founding principles.”

The RNC is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform. Its statement condemning the violence came hours after Republican President Donald Trump baselessly complained that the election was stripped away “from great patriots.” He went on to tell them to “go home with love & in peace.”

The group’s communications director, Michael Ahrens, says, “What happened today was domestic terrorism.”

He says to see the U.S. flag used “in the name of unfounded conspiracy theories is a disgrace to the nation, and every decent American should be disgusted by it.”

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over him, citing false claims of voter fraud. He held a rally earlier Wednesday and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people.”

7:40 p.m.: Former President Bill Clinton says the attack on the U.S. Capitol was fueled over four years of “poison politics” and lit by President Donald Trump.

Clinton said in a statement Wednesday night that the riot at the Capitol resulted from a combination of deliberate disinformation that created distrust in the system and pit Americans against one another.

He wrote, “The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost.”

His wife, Hillary Clinton, lost a bitter election to Trump in 2016 and conceded to him immediately. Trump has refused to accept his defeat by Democrat Joe Biden in November and is trying to cast him as an illegitimate president.

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of Biden’s win. He held a rally earlier Wednesday and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people” and saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”

7:20 p.m.: A West Virginia lawmaker took video of himself and other supporters of President Donald Trump rushing into the U.S. Capitol after they breached the security perimeter.

In the video by Republican Del. Derrick Evans, later deleted from his social media page, he is shown wearing a helmet and clamoring at the door to breach the building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

“We’re in! Keep it moving, baby!” he said in a packed doorway amid Trump followers holding flags and complaining of being pepper sprayed. Once inside, Evans could be seen on video milling around the Capitol Rotunda, where historical paintings depict the republic’s founding, and yelled, “No vandalizing!”

State House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw said Evans will need to “answer to his constituents and colleagues regarding his involvement in what has occurred today.”

He said he has not spoken to Evans yet about his involvement.

The delegate from Wayne County said in a statement later on Facebook that he was heading back to West Virginia and “was simply there as an independent member of the media to film history.”

6:55 p.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress will resume the Electoral College proceedings once the Capitol is cleared of pro-Donald Trump protesters and safe for use.

Pelosi said she made the decision Wednesday in consultation with the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the vice president, who will preside.

She noted the day would always be “part of history,” but now it would be “as such a shameful picture of our country was put out into the world.”

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. He held a rally earlier Wednesday and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people” and saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”

Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and clashed with law enforcement before disrupting Congress’ tallying of the Electoral College votes. Trump has repeatedly told his supporters that the November election was stolen from him, even though that is not true.

6:45 p.m.: Dozens of pro-Trump protesters remain on the streets of the nation’s capital in defiance of the curfew imposed after rioters stormed the Capitol.

The mostly maskless crowd was forcibly removed from the Capitol on Wednesday after breaking into the building and halting the constitutional process of voting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win. They were pushed out of the immediate area and moved down the hill, where they taunted law enforcement and moved barricades.

Police said anyone found on the streets after the 6 p.m. curfew would be arrested. Officers in full riot gear with shields lined the streets near the U.S. Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said their debate on affirming Biden’s victory would continue after the Capitol was secured.

6:40 p.m.: The head of the nation’s largest union of flight attendants says people who took part in the violent protest at the Capitol must be banned from flying.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a statement Wednesday that “some of the people who traveled in our planes (Tuesday) participated in the insurrection at the Capitol today.”

She says, “Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the DC area. Acts against our democracy, our government and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight.”

Nelson and the union endorsed President-elect Joe Biden over President Donald Trump before the November election.

Trump supporters on a Delta Air Lines flight from Salt Lake City to Washington heckled Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the lone Republican senator to vote to oust Trump after he was impeached. On an American Airlines flight from Dallas, a large contingent of Trump supporters got in an angry yelling match with other passengers after one of the president’s supporters projected “Trump 2020” on the cabin ceiling and walls.

6:30 p.m.: Republican Sen. Mitt Romney is blaming President Donald Trump for inciting a violent “insurrection” at the Capitol.

Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee and a frequent critic of Trump’s, said the violent breach of the Capitol on Wednesday was “due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months.”

The Utah senator said those who continue to support Trump’s “dangerous gambit” by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election “will forever be seen as complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.”

Romney ridiculed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other Republicans who want an “audit” of the election results: “Please! No Congressional led audit will ever convince those voters, particularly when the president will continue to claim the election was stolen.”

The simple truth, Romney said, “is that President-elect (Joe) Biden won this election. President Trump lost.”

6:25 p.m.: President Donald Trump has appeared to justify the violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

In a tweet Wednesday night, Trump said, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

He added, “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and clashed with law enforcement before disrupting Congress’ tallying of the Electoral College votes. Trump has repeatedly told his supporters that the November election was stolen from him, even though that is not true.

Trump has faced mounting criticism from Republican lawmakers to do more to condemn the violence being perpetrated in his name.

6:20 p.m.: Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen says the violent pro-Trump protest at the U.S. Capitol was an “intolerable attack on a fundamental institution” of democracy.

Rosen said Wednesday that the Justice Department has been working with U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement agencies to secure the Capitol. He says hundreds of federal agents from Justice Department agencies were sent to assist.

He called it an “unacceptable situation” and said federal prosecutors “intend to enforce the laws of our land.”

Dozens of President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the security perimeter and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. They were seen fighting with officers both inside the building and outside.

Police declared the Capitol to be secure about four hours later.

6:10 p.m.: A woman who was shot inside the U.S. Capitol during the violent pro-Trump protest has died.

That’s according to two officials familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

The Metropolitan Police Department said it was taking the lead on the shooting investigation. Police did not immediately provide details about the circumstances of the shooting.

Dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump breached the security perimeter and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. They were seen fighting with officers both inside the building and outside.

Hours later, police had declared the Capitol was secured.

5:50 p.m.: Officials have declared the U.S. Capitol complex “secure” after heavily armed police moved to end a nearly four-hour violent occupation by supporters of President Donald Trump.

An announcement saying “the Capitol is secure” rang out Wednesday evening inside a secure location for officials of the House. Lawmakers applauded.

The occupation interrupted Congress’ Electoral College count that will formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s upcoming inauguration on Jan. 20.

Lawmakers were evacuated to secure locations around the Capitol complex and Washington, D.C. after thousands of Trump supporters breached the building and skirmished with police officers.

Lawmakers have signaled that they would resume the constitutionally mandated count as soon as it was safe to do so.

5:45 p.m.: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam have issued a curfew for two inner suburbs of northern Virginia as authorities sought to gain control after rioting at the U.S. Capitol.

The curfew applies from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday in Arlington County and the city of Alexandria, which are across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital. The curfew coincides with a similar order in the District of Columbia.

Northam said he issued the order at the request of local officials.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson confirmed that the city requested the curfew. He tweeted, “Let’s keep our community safe in the face of the terror we have seen across the River today.”

Virginia sent local and state police to the District to provide aid. Violating the curfew is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

The curfew was imposed barely an hour before it was to take effect.

5:40 p.m.: Police are using tear gas and percussion grenades to begin clearing pro-Trump protesters from the grounds of the U.S. Capitol ahead of a curfew in Washington.

Police donned gas masks as they moved in Wednesday evening with force to clear protesters from the Capitol grounds shortly before a curfew took hold. In the moments before, there were violent clashes between the police and protesters, who tore railing for the inauguration scaffolding and threw it at the officers.

Police used tear gas and percussion grenades to break up the crowd, which began dispersing.

Dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump breached the security perimeter and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote to affirm Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win. They were seen fighting with officers both inside the building and outside.

Police said at least one person was shot inside the Capitol; their condition was not immediately known.

The district’s police chief said at least 13 people were arrested, and five firearms had been recovered during the pro-Trump protests on Wednesday.

5:30 p.m.: Republican Sen. Ben Sasse is directly blaming President Donald Trump for the storming of the Capitol by huge, angry crowds of pro-Trump protesters.

The Nebraska lawmaker and frequent critic of Trump said Wednesday evening that the Capitol “was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard — tweeting against his Vice President for fulfilling the duties of his oath to the Constitution.”

Sasse says in a written statement, “Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the President’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”

The protesters broke into the building as Congress was beginning the formal process of certifying the electoral votes that gave Democratic President-elect Joe Biden a victory over Trump in November. Vice President Mike Pence has the ceremonial role of overseeing that certification and resisted Trump efforts to pressure him to overturn the election results.

Trump has continued to fallaciously claim that the voting was marred by fraud and that he actually won. Earlier Wednesday Trump addressed a huge crowd of protesters outside the White House and urged them to gather at the Capitol.

5:25 p.m.: The Washington, D.C., police chief says at least five weapons have been recovered and at least 13 people have been arrested so far in pro-Trump protests.

The mostly maskless crowd stormed the Capitol earlier Wednesday as lawmakers were meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win. One person was shot; their condition is unknown.

Police Chief Robert Contee called the attack a riot.

As darkness began to set in, law enforcement officials were working their way toward the protesters, using percussion grenades to try to clear the area around the Capitol. Big clouds of tear gas were visible.

Police were in full riot gear. They moved down the West steps, clashing with demonstrators.

Mayor Muriel Bowser earlier declared a 6 p.m. curfew.

5:05 p.m.: The police chief of Washington, D.C., says pro-Trump protesters deployed “chemical irritants” on police in order to break into the U.S. Capitol.

Police Chief Robert Contee says officials have declared the scene a riot. One civilian was shot inside the Capitol on Wednesday. Thirteen arrests were made of people from out of the area.

Mayor Muriel Bowser says the behavior of the Trump supporters was “shameful, unpatriotic and above all is unlawful.” She says, “There will be law and order and this behavior will not be tolerated.”

Metropolitan police have been sent to the Capitol, and authorities were coming in from Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey to help out. The National Guard was also deployed, as were Homeland Security investigators and Secret Service.

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. He held a rally earlier Wednesday and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people” and saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”

4:40 p.m.: President Donald Trump, in a video message, is urging supporters to “go home” but is also keeping up false attacks about the presidential election.

The video was issued more than two hours after protesters began storming the Capitol on Wednesday as lawmakers convened for an extraordinary joint session to confirm the Electoral College results and President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Trump opened his video, saying, “I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now.”

He also went on to call the supporters “very special.” He also said, “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.”

Republican lawmakers and previous administration officials had begged Trump to give a statement to his supporters to quell the violence. The statement came as authorities struggled to take control of a chaotic situation at the Capitol that led to the evacuation of lawmakers.

4:37 p.m.: Business Roundtable, an influential group representing U.S. companies, is calling on President Donald Trump and other officials to end the protests at the U.S. Capitol and begin a peaceful transition of power.

“The chaos unfolding in the nation’s capital is the result of unlawful efforts to overturn the legitimate results of a democratic election,” the Roundtable said in a statement Wednesday. “The country deserves better.”

The Roundtable represents some of the most powerful companies in America including Walmart, Apple, Starbucks and General Electric.

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

He held a rally earlier Wednesday in which he repeated his false claims that Biden had won the election through voter fraud.

He urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people” and saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.” The Capitol went into lockdown after its security perimeters were breached and protesters entered the building.

4:35 p.m. At least one explosive device has been found near the U.S. Capitol amid a violent occupation of the building by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Law enforcement officials said the device was no longer a threat Wednesday afternoon.

Thousands of supporters of the president occupied the Capitol complex as lawmakers were beginning to tally the electoral votes that will formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Vice President Mike Pence has called on protesters to leave the Capitol immediately, going further than Trump, who merely called for his supporters to “remain peaceful.”

Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Trump issued a restrained call for peace but did not call on his supporters to leave.

4:10 p.m.: President-elect Joe Biden has called the violent protests on the U.S. Capitol “an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings: the doing of the people’s business.”

Biden also demanded President Donald Trump to immediately make a televised address calling on his supporters to cease the violence that he described as an “unprecedented assault’ as pro-Trump protestors violently occupy U.S. Capitol.

Biden’s condemnation came after violent protesters breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, forcing a delay in the constitutional process to affirm the president-elect’s victory in the November election.

Biden addressed the violent protests as authorities struggled to take control of a chaotic situation at the Capitol that led to the evacuation of lawmakers.

4:05 p.m.: Vice President Mike Pence is calling on protesters to leave the Capitol immediately, going further than President Donald Trump who merely called for his supporters to “remain peaceful.”

In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Pence said, “This attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Pence, long a loyal aide to the president, defied Trump earlier Wednesday, tell him he didn’t have the power to discard electoral votes that will make Democrat Joe Biden the next president on Jan. 20. Trump had publicly called on Pence to overturn the will of the voters, but Pence’s constitutional role in the process was only ceremonial.

Angry Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting the peaceful transfer of power. Trump later issued a restrained call for peace but did not ask his supporters to disperse.

4 p.m.: The Pentagon says about 1,100 D.C. National Guard members are being mobilized to help support law enforcement as violent supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol.

Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said Wednesday afternoon that defense leaders have been in contact with the city and congressional leadership.

A defense official said all 1,100 of the D.C. Guard were being activated and sent to the city’s armory. The Guard forces will be used at checkpoints and for other similar duties and could also help in the enforcement of the 6 p.m. curfew being implemented tonight in the city.

The officials said the D.C. request for National Guard was not rejected earlier in the day. Instead, according to officials, the Guard members have a very specific mission that does not include putting military in a law enforcement role at the Capitol. As a result, the Guard must be used to backfill law enforcement outside the Capitol complex, freeing up more law enforcement to respond to the Capitol.

Hoffman said the law enforcement response to the violence will be led by the Justice Department.

3:55 p.m.: The top Democrats in Congress are demanding that President Donald Trump order his supporters to leave the Capitol following a chaotic protest aimed at blocking a peaceful transfer of power.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement on Wednesday after violent protesters stormed the Capitol. They said, “We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protestors leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately.”

Trump earlier encouraged his supporters occupying the U.S. Capitol to “remain peaceful,” but he did not call for them to disperse. He held a rally earlier Wednesday in which he repeated his false claims that President-elect Joe Biden had won the election through voter fraud.

He urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people” and saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”

3:50 p.m.: The White House says National Guard troops along with other federal protective services are en route to the Capitol to help end an violent occupation by President Donald Trump’s supporters who are seeking to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that “At President @realDonaldTrump’s direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services.”

She added, “We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful.”

Republican lawmakers have publicly called for Trump to more vocally condemn the violence and to call to an end to the occupation, which halted a joint session of Congress where lawmakers were beginning to count electoral votes.

Trump lost the November election to Democrat Joe Biden. He has refused to concede and has worked over the last two months to convince his supporters that widespread voter fraud prevented his own victory.

3:40 p.m.: Republican lawmakers are increasingly calling on President Donald Trump to act to deescalate the violent protests at the U.S. Capitol by his supporters angry about his election loss.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he spoke with the president earlier Wednesday and told him to make a statement to “make sure that we can calm individuals down.”

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that “it is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down.”

Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey told The Associated Press that while he sympathizes with the protesters’ position, they shouldn’t get violent, and it would be “nice” if Trump called on them to “protest in a peaceful way in an appropriate spot, where you belong, where you should be.”

Many Republicans had backed Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud to explain away his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, of Wisconsin, posted a video message urging Trump to “call it off.”

“This is Banana Republic crap that we’re watching right now,” said Gallagher, who had spoken out against objections from fellow Republicans to certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College vote.

3:37 p.m.: Supporters of President Donald Trump got into a angry shouting match with other passengers on a Washington-bound American Airlines plane after they projected a “Trump 2020” logo on the cabin ceiling and walls.

The Trump supporters said a passenger threatened to kill them, and there was yelling back and forth. A flight attendant intervened, telling one passenger in the aisle to sit down.

The incident occurred on Tuesday night after American’s flight 1291 from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., and was taxiing to the gate.

The scene was posted on Twitter by Maranie Staab, a Portland, Oregon-based independent journalist who says on her website that she focuses on human rights and social-justice issues.

“Our team is reviewing this incident,” said American Airlines spokesman Curtis Blessing. “We applaud our outstanding crewmembers for their professionalism in de-escalating a tense onboard situation and getting our customers to their destination safely.”

American said law enforcement was not called, and that passengers deplaned and dispersed without further incident.

3:35 p.m.: The Department of Homeland Security is sending additional federal agents to the U.S. Capitol to help quell violence from supporters of President Donald Trump who are protesting Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

A spokesperson told The Associated Press on Wednesday that officers from the Federal Protective Service and U.S. Secret Service agents are being sent to the scene. He says they were requested to assist by U.S. Capitol Police.

Dozens of Trump supporters breached security perimeters and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. They were seen fighting with officers both inside the building and outside.

Trump has riled up his supporters by falsely claiming widespread voter fraud to explain his loss.

— By AP writer Michael Balsamo

3:30 p.m.: One person has been shot at the U.S. Capitol as dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building and violently clashed with police.

That’s according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity amid a chaotic situation.

The exact circumstances surrounding the shooting were unclear. The person said the victim had been taken to a hospital. Their condition was not known.

The shooting came as dozens of Trump supporters breached security perimeters and entered the U.S. Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. Trump has riled up his supporters by falsely claiming widespread voter fraud to explain his loss.

3:25 p.m.: President Donald Trump is encouraging supporters occupying the U.S. Capitol to “remain peaceful,” but he is not calling for them to disperse.

As he faced growing pressure from allies to condemn the violence Wednesday afternoon, Trump tweeted, “No violence!” adding: “Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue.”

But Trump did not ask supporters to vacate the area as the unrest continued.

Trump had appeared earlier at a rally and had urged his supporters to march to the Capitol — at one point even suggesting he would join them. He is upset that he lost the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden and has falsely claimed voter fraud to explain it away.

He also urged his supporters to “get rid of the weak Congress people” — presumably through primary challenges — saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”

3:15 p.m.: A Defense Department official says Washington, D.C., has requested an additional 200 National Guard members as supporters of President Donald Trump violently clash with law enforcement at the Capitol.

That request is currently under review at the Pentagon to determine how the Guard can respond to support law enforcement.

According to officials, the Guard members have a very specific mission that does not include putting military at the Capitol. Instead, the Guard must be used to backfill law enforcement outside the Capitol complex, freeing up more law enforcement to respond to the Capitol.

Officials said the request for more National Guard has not been rejected.

Trump had urged his supporters to come to Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. Several Republican lawmakers backed his calls, despite there being no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing in the election.

3:10 p.m.: Pressure is mounting on President Donald Trump to condemn supporters who are violently clashing with law enforcement on Capitol Hill.

Among those urging Trump to act: his former communications director, Alyssa Farah, who tweeted that Trump should “Condemn this now.”

She says, “you are the only one they will listen to. For our country!”

Dozens of people have breached security perimeters at the Capitol, forcing the lockdown of the building and halting the vote to certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

Trump has so far offered a single tweet asking his supporters to “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

His former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tweeted: “The President’s tweet is not enough. He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home.”

His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, also addressed Trump supporters in a tweet, calling them the “patriots challenging the fraudulent election” and telling them that “POTUS wants you to EXPRESS YOUR OPINION PEACEFULLY.”

3 p.m.: Protesters backing President Donald Trump have breached the U.S. Capitol, forcing a delay in the constitutional process to affirm Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.

Trump urged his supporters to come to Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of Biden’s win. Several Republican lawmakers have backed his calls, despite there being no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing in the election.

Protesters are now inside the Senate chamber. One got up on the dais and yelled “Trump won that election.”

Several dozen are roaming through the halls, yelling, “Where are they?”

Some were also in the visitors’ galleries.

2:50 p.m.: Members of Congress inside the House chamber were told by police to put on gas masks after tear gas was dispersed in the Capitol Rotunda amid skirmishes by supporters of President Donald Trump

Pro-Trump protestors breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, violently clashing with law enforcement as lawmakers were gathered inside to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in November’s presidential election.

Law enforcement instructed lawmakers to retrieve masks from under their seats amid the clashes. The Capitol building was placed on lockdown, as Trump supporters marched through evacuated public spaces in the building.

After egging on protests, Trump tweeted to his supporters to “stay peaceful” as they violently clash with law enforcement and breached the Capitol building.

2:47 p.m.: After egging on protests, President Donald Trump tweeted to his supporters to “stay peaceful” as they violently clash with law enforcement and breached the Capitol building.

“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement,” Trump tweeted, as tear gas was deployed in the locked-down Capitol. “They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

Trump at a rally earlier Wednesday encouraged his supporters to head to the Capitol.

“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,” Trump said.

2:45 p.m.: Lawmakers are being evacuated from the U.S. Capitol after protesters breached security and entered the building.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senators were led out, escorted by staff and police on Wednesday afternoon. Members of the House were also being evacuated. Both chambers had been debating the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.

The skirmishes came shortly after President Donald Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud.

Protesters could be seen marching through the Capitol’s stately Statuary Hall shouting and waving Trump banners and American flags.

Some House lawmakers tweeted they were sheltering in place in their offices.

2:40 p.m.: The mayor of Washington, D.C., has ordered a curfew in the nation’s capital beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday after protestors seeking to overturn the election results stormed the U.S. Capitol building.

Mayor Muriel Bowser issued the order as protestors supporting President Donald Trump breached the Capitol, where lawmakers were meeting to formally count the electors that will make Joe Biden president on Jan. 20.

The order extends through 6 a.m. Thursday.

The skirmishes came shortly after Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud.

2:30 p.m.: Protesting supporters of President Donald Trump have breached the U.S. Capitol.

There was confusion in the House chamber as the Capitol doors were locked and the debate over the electoral count was suspended.

A representative from the Capitol police spoke from a lectern on the dais and told lawmakers to remain calm, and that more information would be available soon.

House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern of Massachusetts told the crowd that the House expected to go back into session soon. Meanwhile, members milled around the floor and looked at their phones.

Reporters and others outside the chamber were told to go their seats inside and not leave.

The skirmishes came just shortly after Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud.

2:20 p.m.: The Senate has recessed its debate over an objection to the results of the Electoral College after protesters forced police to lock down the building.

Reporters were told to stay in the Senate’s press gallery as the doors were locked.

Protesters tore down metal barricades at the bottom of the Capitol’s steps and were met by officers in riot gear. Some tried to push past the officers who held shields and officers could be seen firing pepper spray into the crowd to keep them back.

The skirmishes came just shortly after President Donald Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud.

2:20 p.m.: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says American “democracy is in crisis” with polls showing that large numbers of voters “believe the election that just occurred was rigged.”

Cruz, a Republican, objected to the certification of election results in Arizona, saying the Senate has a responsibility to acknowledge the profound threat posed by widespread disbelief in the legitimacy of the election.

He called for the creation of a commission to conduct a 10-day “emergency audit” to investigate any irregularities, citing a similar commission created after the 1876 presidential election.

Cruz urged lawmakers not to “take the easy path, but instead act together” and create a “credible and fair tribunal. Consider the claims, consider the facts, consider the evidence and make a conclusive determination whether and to what extent this election complied with the Constitution.”

Ken Buck asks Trump to address nation, but doesn’t blame president for U.S. Capitol riot

U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Aurora, and others shelter in the U.S. House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck said he’d like President Donald Trump to address the nation and ask for an end to rioting Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol, but that he doesn’t blame the president for inciting the demonstrations.

“I was a prosecutor for 25 years. When people do stupid things, the people that do those things are responsible,” Buck told The Colorado Sun during a brief interview on Wednesday. “The president didn’t order anybody to do this. This is a country that welcomes protest — peaceful protest. I don’t blame the president at all for this.”

Buck, who is also chairman of the Colorado GOP, spoke to The Sun from a safe location that he and his staff had been evacuated to after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as federal lawmakers were set to sign off on the Electoral College results. Buck is the only one of the three Republicans in Colorado’s congressional delegation that wasn’t set to challenge the outcome of the November election.

“I hope that this de-escalates quickly,” Buck said. “I hope that the president addresses the nation and asks for the protests to be disbanded and I really hope that nobody is hurt by all of this. I fear that some people will be hurt.”

CNN is reporting that people were hurt at the Capitol.

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

Denver man files wrongful death claim against Arches National Park after newlyweds’ trip ends with wife’s death

A newlywed Denver couple’s road trip to Arches National Park in Utah this summer ended in tragedy when a metal gate at the park exit swung open, impaled the couple’s car and decapitated the woman, a 25-year-old Ugandan human rights activist.

Esther Nakajjigo, who’d moved to Colorado in 2019 to attend the Watson Institute in Boulder, was killed instantly.

In October, Nakajjigo’s husband, Ludovic Michaud, and her parents filed a $270 million wrongful death claim — a precursor to a formal lawsuit — against the park, alleging that the gate should have been secured to prevent it from swinging into the road.

“The National Park Service has, in fact, known for decades that an unsecured metal pipe gate creates an undetectable hazard and dangerous condition for its park invitees,” the claim reads, noting at least three other instances since 1988 in which people in cars were fatally impaled by such gates.

This incident happened June 13 just before 2 p.m. as the couple were leaving the park, according to the claim. A video of the crash shows Michaud was driving and Nakajjigo was in the front passenger seat as they drove toward the gate at about the same speed as other vehicles, according to a sheriff’s report.

Read more via The Denver Post.