- President Trump, his family and allies had been pushing violent rhetoric for weeks trying to overturn the 2020 election.
- But Trump's own allies said the violent mob that descended on the US Capitol on Wednesday while lawmakers considered the Electoral College results mirrored dictatorships in third-world countries.
- The president of the National Association of Manufacturers said Vice President Mike Pence should consider invoking the 25th Amendment and removing Trump from office "to preserve democracy."
- Asked if Trump should resign after the melee, his former legal spokesman Mark Corallo told Insider, "If this is just too much for him to take, he ought to step down and say, 'I think Mike Pence should finish off the next two weeks.'"
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump's violent rhetoric and wild proclamations about election fraud morphed into one of the darkest moments in American history on Wednesday when his supporters stormed the US Capitol building, some carrying illegal firearms.
Tweets urging MAGA fans to #stopthesteal became reality as protesters who had listened to Trump earlier in the afternoon smashed windows, threatened Capitol guards, and paraded across the off-limits House and Senate floors where lawmakers just minutes before were debating the 2020 presidential election that ended in Trump's defeat.
Members of Congress wore gas masks as guards barricaded the House chamber. Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the formal vote declaring Trump had lost, was whisked away to a secure location. A woman who was shot in the Capitol later died.
Some Trump advisors saw a movement gone awry, a mistake of passion and anger fueled by the president. Others saw something far darker — the natural evolution of agitators like Roger Stone, the longtime Trump confidant who recently scored a pardon from the president that wiped away his conviction for lying to Congress as it tried to investigate whether Russia helped Trump win his first term.
They even questioned whether the US was starting to resemble third-world countries where violent overthrows of the government are both terrifying and routine.
"It's like the PLO in the '70s," said Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for Trump's personal legal team, likening the Trump protestors to the Palestine Liberation Organization. "This is sickening."
The closing image of Trump's presidency became one of police barring the doors against the angry mob, with guns drawn. The "American carnage" which Trump promised he would end four years earlier when he was inaugurated at the Capitol had now broken into the very same building — at his instigation.
Behind the scenes, White House aides prodded Trump to call on his supporters to end the violent protests. Publicly, some of his former staffers including ex-Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, pleaded too.
Ultimately, they needed about two hours before Trump released a brief message that appeared to be taped from just outside the White House asking his supporters to "go home." The president also repeated the baseless claims of election fraud which sent the mob there in the first place.
"I know your pain, I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen form 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," Trump said in a video message posted to Twitter.
Sedition charges, impeachment and the 25th Amendment
Trump's response didn't help matters.
Legal experts suggested the president should face federal criminal charges for sedition by trying to overthrow a branch of the US government. Democrats started talking up another round of impeachment proceedings, even though the expiration date for the lame duck president's term is in T-minus two weeks and counting.
And Republicans, including some of Trump's closest allies, said it was time to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
"This is sedition and should be treated as such," said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers in a statement Wednesday. "The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy."
"Anyone indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars is complicit. Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy," added Timmons.
Even some of the Republicans close to Trump who had been pushing to overturn the election results said Wednesday's violence went too far.
A Republican close to the White House who had earlier Wednesday backed a last-ditch effort to persuade Pence to throw out the election results distanced themselves from what took place a few hours later. Their concern centered in part around the political fallout for the GOP.
"Even I would not have taken this route," the person said. "Now the Republicans will be labeled the party of violence."
But even as the mob escalated, some of Trump's allies brushed away concerns. Ivanka Trump, long considered Trump's most powerful advisor along with husband Jared Kushner, called the protestors "American patriots" in a tweet also asking them to go home. She later deleted the tweet.
One Republican close to Stone and the Trump campaign dismissed the protests as "just a circus" and said it would all blow over by Thursday morning.
But other Trump advisors said it may be impossible to stem the damage to American democracy caused by Trump's mob.
"FUBAR," said one Trump campaign advisor when asked about what happens after Wednesday afternoon's insurrection at the Capitol. That's a military shorthand reference that means "F—ed Up Beyond All Recognition."
"I'm disgusted by the actions at the US Capitol today," the Trump campaign advisor said. "Those are not the actions of conservatives and True Trump supporters. We can not stand for violence and must condemn it in the strongest terms."
A boiling cauldron of violent rhetoric
Wednesday's siege shocked the nation. But the violence had been building to a head long before the formal electoral vote count.
Trump famously throughout his first presidential campaign goosed supporters at rallies, praising them for beating up protestors and even offering to pay any legal bills. He taunted the media as the "enemy of the people."
Since losing the 2020 race, Trump backers have only increased the violent rhetoric. Joe diGenova, a longtime legal adviser to the president, said on a pro-Trump cable network that former top US cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs should be "drawn and quartered" and "taken out at dawn and shot" after he knocked down Trump's false claim that the last election wasn't on the up and up.
On New Year's Day, Lin Wood, a prominent Georgia lawyer backing Trump threatened to execute Pence by firing squad if he didn't overturn the election results. The next day, Trump threatened possible legal action against Georgia state officials unless they committed voter fraud to show him as the winner.
Eric Trump, one of the president's adult sons, threatened Republicans with political retribution if they didn't back efforts to overturn the election. And Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani earlier Wednesday before the melee at the US Capitol told the president's supporters: "Let's have trial by combat."
Corallo, who previously served in the George W. Bush administration as a Justice Department spokesman, said he was appalled by the violence in Washington and what it will do to a Republican Party that's found success with the president's brand of populism but now will be hurt by the memory of January 6th.
"If this movement wants to continue to be successful they've got to drop this crap immediately and they need to move on from Trump," Corallo said. "It can't be about Trump anymore."
Asked if he thought Trump should resign because of Wednesday's events, Corallo took a long pause before replying: "I think that I would like to hear from the president. I'd like to give him one more chance to redeem himself."
"But if he doesn't have it in himself to call for a real peaceful transition in 14 days and if he continues to egg on his supporters, if he continues to attack members of his own party who he doesn't feel are supporting his effort to overturn the election strongly enough, then he ought to resign."
"If this is just too much for him to take," Corallo continued, "he ought to step down and say, 'I think Mike Pence should finish off the next two weeks.'"
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