WASHINGTON — One day later, the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters forced painful new questions across government — about his fitness to remain in office for two more weeks, the ability of the police to secure the complex and the future of the Republican Party in a post-Trump era.
The rampage prompted lawmakers to launch a congressional review of the U.S. Capitol Police’s failure to stop the the breach and is forcing a broader reckoning over President Trump’s tenure in office and what comes next for a tattered and torn nation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that any remaining day with the president in power could be “a horror show for America.”
Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called for invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to force Trump from office before Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
At least one Republican lawmaker joined them. The procedure allows for the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare the president unfit for office. The vice president then becomes acting president.
Pelosi said if the president’s Cabinet does not swiftly invoke the 25th Amendment, the House may proceed to impeach Trump.
The head of the U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund faced pressure from Congress to resign. The sergeants at arms of the House and Senate that oversee the police and security at the complex are also expected to be removed.
Sund defended his department’s response to the storming of the Capitol, saying that officers had “acted valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions.”
In his first public comment on the mayhem, Sund said in a statement that rioters “actively attacked” Capitol police and other law enforcement officers with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants and “took up other weapons against our officers.”
It was “unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.,” said Sund, a former city police officer.
But Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser quickly called the police response “a failure.”
The Republicans who led the effort to challenge the Electoral College tally for Biden exposed the extent of the divisions within the party, and the nation, after four years of Trump’s presidency.
Those two GOP senators, Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, faced angry peers in the Senate.
Cruz in a statement defended his objection to the election results as “the right thing to do” as he tried unsuccessfully to have Congress launch an investigation.
In the House, Republican leaders Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, joined in the effort to overturn Biden’s win by objecting to the Electoral College results.
Despite Trump’s repeated claims of voter fraud, election officials and his own former attorney general have said there were no problems on a scale that would change the outcome. All the states have certified their results as fair and accurate, by Republican and Democratic officials alike.