(NEXSTAR) — While still baselessly claiming he won the 2020 election, President Donald Trump encouraged supporters occupying the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to disperse, saying, “You have to go home now.”
“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. 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,” Trump said, continuing to assert claims he has failed to prove in court. “We have to have peace. We have to have law and order.”
President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday had called on Trump to “go on national television now” to “demand an end to this siege.”
He also called for the restoration of “just simple decency” as violent activists stormed the Capitol and delayed Congress from certifying the results of November’s election in which Biden won the White House.
Earlier in the day Trump urged protesters to “remain peaceful,” but he did not call on them to disperse.
As he faced growing pressure from allies to condemn the violence Wednesday afternoon, Trump tweeted, “No violence!” adding: “Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue.”
But Trump did not initially ask supporters to vacate the area as the unrest continued.
Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement calling on the president to demand the protesters leave. “We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protestors leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately.”
Vice President Mike Pence did call for protesters to leave, saying: “The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany later tweeted, “We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful” and said the National Guard was being sent.
Trump had appeared earlier at a rally and had urged his supporters to march to the Capitol — at one point even suggesting he would join them. He is upset that he lost the presidential election to Biden and has falsely claimed voter fraud to explain it away.
He also urged his supporters to “get rid of the weak Congress people” — presumably through primary challenges — saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”
Dozens of people breached security perimeters at the Capitol, and lawmakers inside the House chamber were told to put on gas masks as tear gas was fired in the Rotunda.
A chaplain prayed as police guarded the doors to the chamber and lawmakers tried to gather information about what was happening, and an announcement was played inside the Capitol as lawmakers were meeting and expected to vote to affirm Biden’s victory. Due to an “external security threat,” no one could enter or exit the Capitol complex, the recording said.
Protesters were also seen inside the Senate chamber. One got up on the dais and yelled, “Trump won that election.”
Several dozen were roaming through the halls, yelling, “Where are they?” according to a pool report.
Congressional leaders were whisked to safety, including Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who was attending the joint session and was also said to be safe.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.