WASHINGTON - "President Franklin Roosevelt set aside Dec. 7, 1941, as a day that will live in infamy. Unfortunately, we can now add Jan. 6, 2021, to that very short list of dates in American history that will live forever in infamy."
Speaking from the Senate floor late Wednesday night, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer addressed a reconvened Congress moments after it had reestablished itself within the legislative building. Only hours before, thousands of Trump supporters, met with a police force too lightly staffed to hold back what was coming, had stormed the U.S. Capitol.
With the country pulled back like a slingshot and the collective temperature reaching a boiling point, Congress began Wednesday with hopes of officially concluding the end of the 2020 election by certifying each state's results. But as some members made a futile effort to object to the results, and a crowd tens of thousands strong gathered outside the government, decorum quickly descended into chaos as mob rule took hold of Washington D.C.
A scene reserved for the climaxes in movies quickly became reality early afternoon after debating congressmen and women found themselves sheltering under seats and behind barriers. Security guards had barricaded doors into the chamber as personnel drew their guns.
"They told us to get on the floor behind our chairs and put on gas masks and then they said, 'Run, run, c'mon, this is not a joke," said Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who was told to grab a designated gas mask under her seat as the mob tried breaking through the chamber doors.
"The police used tear gas in statutory hall, that's why we all had to put on our masks (when) they breached the chamber doors. And so they got us out of there and brought us to another safe space," Lawrence said. "I just want to let everyone to know I am okay."
When Lawrence spoke to FOX 2, she was in a safe room with her staff and other members of Congress. So was Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who served in the Middle East.
"I could hear shouting and breaking glass and what we call a flash-bang. like a crowd control measure," she said. "After serving three tours in Iraq, it's not the worst I've seen, but obviously this symbolic nature of what happened today and those hours of fear and concern were just heartbreaking for all of us."
Both lawmakers blamed President Donald Trump for inciting the riot that washed over the Capitol building.
Supporters of President Donald Trump protest in the US Capitol Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
After initially declining to put out messages urging protesters to go home, the president posted a video that many found inadequate. In it, he called the extremists 'special' and told them 'everyone loves you.' After another post that Twitter deemed dangerous, social media companies locked the president's account in an effort to quell any more incendiary language.
By then, at least one woman had been shot. She would eventually die as a result.
While such an incredible sight may have felt completely foreign, it wasn't such a stretch to see similarities between Wednesday's protests and those that descended on Michigan in April when armed men entered the Michigan legislature as it was debating rules.
Many Michigan Republican leaders denounced the actions of the mob. Some residents from the state that attended the event said they had heard the president had lost support from the Vice President. Rob Cortis, the owner of Michigan's own "Unity Bridge" which had made appearances at dozens of rallies over the years, said when he learned about the violence inside the capitol, he was shocked.
"Never in a million years would I think that would happen," he said. "I pray that it was an accident and nothing of intention."
Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.
Another supporter said they weren't protesting, but was at a peaceful rally.
"What are they protesting for? We were there to stop the steal peacefully," said Patricia Bomer.
After law enforcement had regained control of the Capitol building and Congress resumed debating Arizona's certified results, the first state that Republican lawmakers had objected to before violence had broken out.
However, by then it wasn't much of a debate. Representatives and Senators gave impassioned speeches about the significance of the moment. Several Republicans that had planned on objecting to the results reversed their decision.
Some House representatives almost came to blows when an argument between two of them broke out.
"Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th," Trump said in a statement posted to Twitter by his social media director. His own account had been locked by the company for posting messages that appeared to justify the assault on the seat of the nation’s democracy.
Trump added, "While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!"
It's not entirely clear where the U.S. government goes from here. Even with 14 days left in his term, many officials have begun discussing the prospect of impeachment or invoking the 25th amendment. After witnessing a year of 'unprecedented' in 2020, either option would only add to the mountain of events never before seen.
And the new year had only just begun.
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they gather at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote