House Democrats on Thursday announced the start of a “robust” investigation into the law enforcement breakdown that allowed a violent mob of Trump supporters to storm the Capitol as lawmakers were formalizing the victory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“It is obvious that there was a severe systemic failure in securing the building’s perimeter and in the response once the building was breached,” Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut and chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, and Tim Ryan, Democrat of Ohio, said in a statement.
While they stressed that the responsibility for the violence rested with President Trump and his supporters, they said “the breach of the Capitol raises serious questions about what law enforcement did and what they should have done differently.”
The Appropriations Committee funded the Capitol Police at more than $515 million for the 2021 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1. That is similar to what Baltimore spends on policing and more than Detroit and Atlanta spend on law enforcement.
Mr. Ryan is chairman of an appropriations subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the budget for the Capitol Police. That subcommittee will lead the investigation, which he said would include “hearings to directly question key leaders about what went wrong.”
“To ensure the safety of those who work and visit here, we must get to the bottom of these breakdowns and prevent them from ever happening again,” the Democrats wrote.
Four people lost their lives during the melee in Washington, D.C., Wednesday. One of them was Kevin D. Greeson, 55, of Athens, Ala., who collapsed as he stood among a sea of Trump supporters on the west side of the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. Greeson had been talking to his wife on his phone when he fell to the sidewalk. A New York Times reporter watched as emergency personnel rushed to help, furiously performing chest compressions, but were unable to revive him.
In an interview on Thursday, his wife, Kristi Greeson, said authorities contacted her afterward to say that her husband had died of a heart attack. Ms. Greeson said her husband, who was a father of five, had left home on Tuesday, spending the night in Virginia with a friend. She said her husband, who had high blood pressure, was excited to attend the rally, believing the election had been stolen.
“He felt like it was a monumental event in his mind,” she said. “I didn’t want him to go. I didn’t feel like it was safe.”
Ms. Greeson said her husband was a “political junkie” who liked President Trump because he cared about blue collar workers such as Mr. Greeson. But her husband also “saw the good and bad in Trump,” she said.
The others who died included a woman and a man who suffered “medical emergencies” and a woman, identified as Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by the Capitol Police, according to law enforcement officials.
A bust of President Zachary Taylor was defaced with what appeared to be blood during the riot at the Capitol on Wednesday. It was covered in plastic as the building was cleaned on Thursday.
The first criminal charges against some of the pro-Trump rioters who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday will be filed as early as Thursday, the acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, said in a statement.
He added that criminal prosecutors had worked through the evening with police and federal law enforcement officials to identify perpetrators, and that more would be arrested and charged in coming days and weeks.
“Yesterday, our nation watched in disbelief as a mob breached the Capitol building and required federal and local law enforcement to help restore order,” Mr. Rosen said. “The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that those responsible for this attack on our government and the rule of law face the full consequences of their actions under the law.”
The F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray, also vowed to track down the perpetrators of property destruction at the Capitol, as well as “violent agitators and extremists who use the guise of First Amendment-protected activity to incite violence and wreak havoc,” he said in a statement.
“Let me assure the American people the F.B.I. has deployed our full investigative resources and is working closely with our federal, state, and local partners to aggressively pursue those involved in criminal activity during the events of January 6,” Mr. Wray said. “Our agents and analysts have been hard at work through the night gathering evidence, sharing intelligence, and working with federal prosecutors to bring charges.”
He asked members of the public to provide tips and upload videos of illegal activity at the webpage “FBI Seeking Information Related to Violent Activity at the U.S. Capitol Building.”
At least 52 people have been arrested, including five on weapons charges and at least 26 on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, according to Robert Contee, chief of the city’s Metropolitan Police Department.
The criticism of the Capitol Police was swift and, in some quarters, unforgiving. It took more than two hours, and reinforcements from other law enforcement agencies, before order was restored to the Capitol on Wednesday.
The officers were easily overwhelmed by the crowds; some law enforcement experts were astonished by the sight of an officer cowering in the crush of pro-Trump extremists and rioters using police shields and metal barricades as battering rams.
“How they were not ready for this today, I have no idea,” said Charles Ramsey, a former D.C. police chief, adding that “they did not have the resources. You have to be able to protect the Capitol. That is not OK.”
Protesters on the left saw a stark double standard, saying they had been hit with rubber bullets, manhandled, surrounded and arrested while behaving peacefully during demonstrations against racial injustice over the summer.
Members of Congress demanded explanations as well. Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, wrote on Twitter. “I warned our Caucus and had an hourlong conversation with the Chief of Police 4 days ago. He assured me the terrorists would not be allowed on the plaza & Capitol secured.”
Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, both called on Thursday for President Trump’s removal from office over his role in igniting the violent mob that stormed the Capitol a day earlier.
Both men called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows him and the Cabinet to take the power of the presidency from Mr. Trump. Mr. Schumer went a step further, saying that if Mr. Pence did not act, he thought Congress should reassemble to impeach Mr. Trump a second time.
“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president,” Mr. Schumer said. “This president should not hold office one day longer.”
In a video posted on Twitter, Mr. Kinzinger, who has been frequently critical of Mr. Trump in recent weeks, said the president had “become unmoored, not just from his duty or even his oath, but from reality itself.”
Mr. Trump has just days left in his term; he will leave office on Jan. 20, when President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is set to be sworn in.
The statements from Mr. Schumer and Mr. Kinzinger follow similar calls by Representatives Charlie Crist and Ted Lieu, both Democrats, on Wednesday. A letter signed by 17 Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee was also sent to Mr. Pence, calling on him to invoke the 25th Amendment.
The State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., was closed temporarily on Thursday morning after a bomb threat was called in to building officials.
“It was nothing too specific, and the State Police swept the buildings and grounds,” said John Truscott, a member of the Michigan State Capitol Commission, which sets rules and approves maintenance projects for the building. “They are so well prepared for dealing with situations like this, so the building has reopened.”
The threat was called in before 7 a.m. and led to the building being closed to employees until about 9 a.m. The Capitol has been closed to the public when the Legislature is not in session because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The bomb threat came a day after more than 500 supporters of President Trump gathered outside the Michigan Capitol to protest the certification of the Electoral College vote. In contrast to the violent events in Washington, the Michigan protest was loud but largely peaceful.
It is not the first time the Michigan Capitol building has been threatened in the last year. In April, demonstrators, many of them armed, stormed the Capitol to protest lockdown orders put in place by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
Protesters screamed at the police, demanding to be allowed into the House chamber. Several armed men stood in the gallery above the Senate chamber as senators were in session below. At least two of those men were among the 14 people later charged in a failed plot to kidnap Ms. Whitmer.
Michigan is an open carry state, so it is not unusual to see armed people walking the halls of the Capitol. The Capitol Commission debated banning guns in the building after that April protest, but no action has been taken.
Mr. Truscott also recalled an incident in the early 1990s, when some demonstrators stormed the Capitol and burned flags in the building’s rotunda to protest welfare cuts.
“It seems so quaint now,” he said. “That group had spotlights and bullhorns and were throwing snowballs at the windows. I don’t think anyone was prepared for what we saw yesterday. We’ll be discussing these things going forward.”
Shopify, the company that powers e-commerce sites for more than one million merchants, said on Thursday that it had closed online stores tied to President Trump, including those run by the Trump Organization and the Trump campaign.
A company representative said that the sites violated a policy that prohibits the support of organizations or people “that threaten or condone violence to further a cause.” Users who navigated to sites like TrumpStore.com and shop.donaldjtrump.com were met with messages that the sites were unavailable.
Cached versions of the sites show that they had sold merchandise like $45 pairs of Trump-branded champagne flutes, $30 “Make America Great Again” hats and a $24 poster of a cartoon of Mr. Trump punching into the air.
Shopify, which said that it “does not tolerate actions that incite violence,” declined to say how many sites were affected over all.
“Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our Acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause,” the Shopify representative said. “As a result, we have terminated stores affiliated with President Trump.”
Shopify’s technology makes it simple for individuals to make retail websites with as little as an email address and a credit card. At the outset of the pandemic last year, the company closed thousands of sites that claimed to be selling virus-fighting products.
American Airlines said on Thursday that it had banned alcohol on flights to and from Washington at least through Thursday night and was taking other precautions to keep its employees and passengers safe after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.
The company said it had increased staffing at the area’s three main airports. United Airlines said it has also stepped up airport staffing and had moved crews out of hotels in downtown Washington earlier in the week. American, United and Delta Air Lines said they were in close contact with local and federal authorities.
Even before the attack on the Capitol, airline crews and passengers had reported encountering unruly passengers headed to Washington early on Wednesday. Flight attendant unions expressed concern after members reported having to confront passengers who were being disruptive, behaving aggressively or flouting mask requirements. Video and photos posted on social media showed pro-Trump passengers cheering, singing and yelling at other passengers.
“We are incredibly concerned about recent politically motivated incidents on board passenger aircraft,” Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents 27,000 American flight attendants, said in a statement. “Regardless of one’s political beliefs, the cabin of a commercial aircraft must, out of necessity, be a calm environment for the safety of everyone onboard.”
In a note to members on Wednesday, Ms. Hedrick said that the airline would move all layover crews to airport hotels through next Sunday and offer private transportation to area airports. “Remain extra vigilant on flights departing from the Washington, D.C., area for the next few days, and involve your fellow crew members if you have safety concerns,” she wrote.
In a separate statement, Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, which has tens of thousands of members at 17 airlines, called on airlines and law enforcement to take “all steps” necessary to keep passengers and crews safe.
“The mob mentality behavior that took place on several flights to the D.C. area yesterday was unacceptable and threatened the safety and security of every single person onboard,” she said in the statement on Wednesday.
The chief of the U.S. Capitol Police confirmed on Thursday that an officer had shot and killed a woman inside the Capitol after the building was breached by President Trump’s supporters. He identified the woman as Ashli Babbitt, a former member of the Air Force.
Ms. Babbitt, 35, had been assigned to security units that police Air Force bases, according to military publications. A 2014 article said she had deployed seven times in eight years and achieved the rank of senior airman.
Chief Steven A. Sund of the Capitol Police said the attack on the Capitol “was unlike any I have experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement,” and he defended the actions of the officers as “heroic,” despite widespread criticism over how easily they were overrun by the mob of Trump supporters.
Chief Sund said an officer had shot Ms. Babbitt as the people who had overrun the Capitol “were forcing their way” to a part of the building where members of Congress were sheltering. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department, the local police in Washington, had said on Wednesday that the officer who shot Ms. Babbitt was a plainclothes Capitol Police officer.
In a pair of videos that appeared to capture the shooting, a woman who has a Make America Great Again flag draped around her can be seen stepping up to a ledge next to a door to the Speaker’s Lobby, a long hallway with portraits of former speakers of the House. As soon as she steps up to the ledge next to the door, a loud bang can be heard, and she falls to the ground. As people call for help, she begins to bleed around her mouth and neck.
Chief Sund said his agency had placed the officer who shot Ms. Babbitt on administrative leave and that the officer’s police powers had been suspended. He did not identify the officer.
Here’s what it looked like inside the Capitol on Thursday, a day after a mob stormed the building, breaking windows, looting offices and chasing lawmakers from the chamber.
Facebook will block President Trump on its platforms, including Instagram, at least until the end of his term, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Thursday.
“The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote.
“We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” he said. “Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
Facebook had previously said it would suspend Mr. Trump’s account for 24 hours after several of the president’s posts on Wednesday appeared to stoke the violence in the Capitol. Mr. Trump also faced a suspension from Twitter, which locked his account for 12 hours and required him to delete three tweets that the company said could incite violence in order to regain access.
The unprecedented decisions from Twitter and Facebook come after the social media companies have for years allowed Mr. Trump to violate their policies without repercussions.
In recent months, Twitter and Facebook had begun to push back on the president’s posts, adding fact-checking labels to some of his most incendiary statements. Mr. Trump fired back, signing an executive order intended to strip legal protections from the social media companies and claiming they were censoring conservative voices.
The suspensions effectively cut Mr. Trump off from the megaphone he has used to rile his base and could fuel further outrage from the president. He has more than 88 million followers on Twitter and 35 million followers on Facebook.
For years, Mr. Zuckerberg and other executives at Facebook had given Mr. Trump significant leeway on his Facebook account, often allowing the president’s false statements to stay up on the network despite heavy criticism.
Mr. Zuckerberg has repeatedly said he did not want Facebook to be “the arbiter of truth” in political discourse and that he believed strongly in protecting speech across Facebook, the platform he founded that is now used by more than three billion people globally.
“We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in his note on Thursday morning.
“The current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.
The actions of law enforcement officials before, during and after a violent breach of the Capitol on Wednesday by a pro-Trump mob were coming into question as images emerged of officers gently escorting rioters to their freedom — and a video showing officers pushing aside barricades used to keep the mob from entering the complex.
The law enforcement agencies responsible for protecting the complex, a patchwork of federal and local agencies led by the 2,000-member Capitol Police force, are already facing scrutiny over their inability to counter the violence despite weeks of none-too-secret planning by the attackers on social media sites like Gab and Parler.
The Capitol Police, which is shielded from the transparency requirements of other federal agencies by law, did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, Steven Sund, the chief of police, issued a statement vowing “a thorough review of this incident, security planning and policies and procedures.”
“The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Sund said. “The USCP had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities. But make no mistake — these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior.”
Mr. Sund said more than 50 Capitol Police and Washington Metro Police officers had been injured, and several Capitol Police officers were hospitalized with serious injuries. A Capitol Police officer who shot and killed a woman outside the House chamber has been placed on administrative leave while the department investigates.
Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, said on Twitter late Wednesday: “We must investigate the security breach at the Capitol today. I warned our Caucus and had an hour long conversation with the Chief of Police 4days ago. He assured me the terrorists would not be allowed on the plaza & Capitol secured.” (An earlier version of this briefing item misstated the timing of the events at the Capitol and the statement by the Capitol Police. The Capitol was stormed on Wednesday, not Tuesday, and the Capitol Police issued their response on Thursday, not Wednesday.)
When debate over certification of the presidential election resumed amid shattered glass, lawmakers from both parties praised the heroism of the officers who battled with violent protesters.
But many in the mob, which numbered in the hundreds, appeared to act with the abandon of lawbreakers confident they would not be held accountable.
Some gleefully snatched and smashed cameras from journalists, others smiled without masks for selfies, and one Richard Barnett, 60, from Gravette, Ark., amiably recounted his invasion of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s personal office to a reporter after posing for a picture with his feet on her desk.
“Why on earth is this man not under arrest and in prison?” Ben Rhodes, a former speechwriter for President Obama, asked on Twitter.
The contrast between the treatment of the mostly white pro-Trump mob and the massive show of force to counter more peaceful and racially diverse protests against police violence last summer was striking to many.
“It was strange, because it was almost like there was this call to not use force,” Representative Cori Bush, a Democrat from St. Louis, said in an interview with MSNBC shortly after the attack.
Ms. Bush said that the rioters “would have been shot” if they were Black, adding the treatment reflected “white privilege.”
Law enforcement officials told lawmakers on Wednesday that their main priority was to clear the complex quickly, rather than make arrests, so that legislative activity could resume as soon as possible.
As of 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, the last accounting offered by law enforcement agencies, at least 52 people were arrested, including five on weapons charges and at least 26 on the grounds of the Capitol. Most of the arrests were for violating the 6 p.m. curfew, he said, adding that the police would circulate pictures of those sought for breaching the Capitol building.
In addition, pipe bombs were found at the headquarters of both the Republican and the Democratic National Committees and a cooler containing a long gun and Molotov cocktails was discovered on the Capitol grounds, Washington D.C. police officials said.
On Wednesday morning, the F.B.I. posted a web page for tips about individuals involved in the violence, and details of new attacks that might be in the works — allowing citizens to upload digital images of people involved.