UPDATE: Minutes after President-Elect Biden spoke, President Trump issued a recorded video telling the pro-Trump extremists that had breached the U.S. Capitol, “Go home. We love you, you’re very special.” The woman who was shot has since been pronounced dead, according to the New York Times, citing D.C. police officials.
Calling on President Trump to “fulfill his oath, to defend the Constitution, and demand an end of this siege,” President-Elect Joe Biden said the riots occurring at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. are “not protest, it’s insurrection.”
“Our democracy is under unprecedented assault unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times,” he said, addressing the country as pro-Trump supporters continued to storm the Capitol on the day lawmakers had gathered to count Electoral College votes. “An assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself. An assault on the people’s representatives, on the Capitol Hill police sworn to protect them, on the public servants who work at the heart of our republic. An assault on the rule of law, like few times we’ve ever seen it. An assault on the most sacred of American undertakings, the doing of the people’s business.”
“The scenes of chaos in the Capitol do not reflect true America, do not represent who we are,” continued Biden. “This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It’s bordering on sedition. And it must end, now. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward. You’ve heard me say before in a different context, the words of a president matter. No matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite. Therefore, I call on President Trump to go on national television now, to fulfill his oath, to defend the constitution, and demand an end to this siege.”
Legislators were evacuated from the Capitol as Trump supporters breached the building, clashing with law enforcement. Biden said in his televised remarks that to storm the Capitol, smash windows, occupy offices, rummage through desks of lawmakers, and threaten the safety of elected officials is “not protest, it’s insurrection.”
It is a painful reminder, said Biden, that “democracy is fragile.”
The speech came after a period of silence from the sitting president amid the chaos. Some media reports began to shift coverage from calling the events “protests” to “riots,” as Trump supporters overwhelmed Capitol police, prompting the D.C. National Guard to be deployed. CNN reported that a woman was shot in the chest on the grounds of the Capitol and is now in critical condition. Prior to Biden’s speech, CNN anchor Jake Tapper led a discussion about the possibility of President Trump’s cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office for the remaining weeks of his term.
Biden concluded his remarks by saying that this “God-awful display today is bringing home to every Republican, Democrat, and independent in the nation: we must step up. This is the United States of America. So President Trump: step up.”
Adam B. Vary contributed to this report.