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Biden blasts Trump supporters’ ‘siege’ of Capitol

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media captionPolice place US Capitol Building on lockdown after Trump supporters breached security lines

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.css-14iz86j-BoldText{font-weight:bold;}US President-elect Joe Biden has blasted the “insurrection” of pro-Trump rioters who stormed the US Capitol and he demanded an end to their “siege”.

The Democrat called on outgoing President Donald Trump to “step up” and repudiate the violence.

In a tweeted video, Mr Trump repeated debunked claims the vote was “stolen”, but urged protesters to “go home”.

A joint session of Congress confirming electoral college votes has been suspended and forced into recess.

The protesters fought their way past police to breach the US Capitol, shouting and waving Trump and US flags as they roamed through the halls, demanding the results of the presidential election be overturned.

The invasion sent members of Congress scrambling for cover under their seats and donning gas masks as tear gas was fired in the Capitol Rotunda.

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What did Biden say?

Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, Mr Biden said democracy was ‘”under unprecedented assault”.

“I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfil his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege,” he said.

“To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices on the floor of the United States Senate, rummaging through desks, on the House of Representatives, threatening the safety of duly elected officials.

“It’s not protest; it’s insurrection.”

media captionJoe Biden: The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are

What did Trump say?

Mr Trump responded in a recorded video on Twitter, repeating his unproven claims of fraud in November’s White House election.

“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt,” said the Republican president, who leaves office on 20 January.

“We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side.

“But you have to go home now. We have to have peace.”

Twitter added a warning label to the tweet, citing the disputed claim of election fraud and “risk of violence”.

While rallying his supporters outside the White House earlier on Wednesday, Mr Trump had urged them to march on the Capitol.

During the “Save America Rally”, Mr Trump had told his supporters: “We will never give up. We will never concede.”

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  • Can rebel Republicans overturn the election?
  • What is the electoral college?

What’s happening at the Capitol?

There have been reports of guns drawn in the building and at least one person shot. A woman was reported to be in a critical condition after receiving a neck injury.

There was an armed confrontation at the doors of the House of Representatives.

Members of Congress were told to evacuate the building or remain where they were. One congresswoman tweeted that she was staying in her office.

Vice-President Mike Pence called on the rioters to leave the Capitol immediately, saying the violence and destruction “must stop now”.

Rioters were seen marching through the building chanting “We want Trump” and one was photographed in the Senate president’s chair.

A rare, citywide curfew has been declared from 18:00 to 06:00 (23:00 to 11:00 GMT) by Washington DC’s mayor.

There are also reports of protests at state legislatures in Kansas and Georgia.

A pipe bomb was found at the offices of the Republican party in Washington DC, and it was detonated by a bomb squad, while the nearby offices of the Democratic party were evacuated because of a suspicious package, reports the New York Times.

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‘Surrender the building to us’

By Laura Trevelyan, BBC News, Washington

On the steps of Capitol Hill, hundreds of loyal Trump supporters are packed closely together, as nearby armed police officers keep a watchful eye.

The mood here is tense and defiant.

“We’re not [expletive] Antifa!” one man screams at the police, referring to the loose coalition of “anti-fascist” activists that oppose Mr Trump.

Trump loyalists near him wave placards that say “show us the ballots”.

“All we want is for the Capitol police to stand down, and surrender the building to us,” says one man to news cameras, as he is filmed by other Trump supporters.

The conviction here is that the election was stolen from President Trump, and the lawmakers inside the building should do their duty and somehow award the election to him.

Never mind that election officials have certified the results and the courts have thrown out Trump campaign lawsuits alleging fraud because there’s no evidence.

It’s a siege mentality here, as word spreads through the crowd that the National Guard is on its way to the Capitol.

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What were the protesters targeting?

A joint session of Congress was being held to certify Mr Biden’s election victory on 3 November.

The proceedings are usually brief and ceremonial but Republican lawmakers have been objecting to some results.

Police inside Capitol buildingimage copyrightReuters
image captionPolice have been taking up position inside the Capitol building

For days Mr Trump had also been putting pressure on Mr Pence, who is presiding over the session, to block certification of the result. “Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!” the president tweeted on Wednesday.

But in a letter to Congress, Mr Pence said that he had no “unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted”.

Mr Trump has also tried to throw doubt on the integrity of Tuesday’s Senate run-off votes in the southern, traditionally Republican, state of Georgia – where two Democrats are projected to have won.

If the Democrats win both they will gain effective control of the Senate – something that will help Mr Biden push forward his agenda after he is inaugurated as president on 20 January.

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