Shortly after President Trump urged his supporters at Wednesday's "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, D.C., to march on the Capitol, they set off down Pennsylvania Avenue, using alternative social media sites like Gab and Parler to discuss "directions on which streets to take to avoid the police and which tools to bring to help pry open doors," as well as how to carry guns into the halls of Congress, The New York Times reports. QAnon, the Proud Boys, and other pro-Trump groups have used such sites for months to openly call for violence against members of Congress and seizing the Capitol building.
Once the mob breached the Capitol building, one of the dozens of Trump supporters roaming the Capitol halls asked, "Where are they?" The Associated Press reports. At that point, the lawmakers were crouching on the floor of the House chamber or under tables, hiding out in secure locations, or sheltering in their offices, praying and telling their loved ones they were alive. At about 2:00 p.m., Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) were evacuated from the Senate, and police cleared the chamber about half an hour later.
"At 2:24 p.m., after Mr. Trump tweeted that Mr. Pence 'didn't have the courage to do what should have been done,' dozens of messages on Gab called for those inside the Capitol building to hunt down the vice president," the Times reports. "In videos uploaded to the channel, protesters could be heard chanting 'Where is Pence?'"
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Pence, it turns out, was busy. "Throughout the day, Pence appeared to take on much of the coordination that would traditionally be led by the president in a moment of crisis," Politico reports. "In addition to speaking with defense officials about the deployment of National Guard troops, Pence fielded phone calls from Trump allies who appeared eager to erase the president from the picture." Wednesday marked "the beginning of the end" of Pence's loyalty to Trump, one Pence ally told Politico, and it "may very well be the end of his political career, too."
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.