Pro-Trump Protestors Violently Storm U.S. Capitol Credit: CBS News/Screenshot

Pro-Trump protestors stormed the U.S. Capitol, disrupting the certification of the presidential election and putting the historic building in lockdown, threatening the security of members of Congress and the Vice President, and fomenting what is arguably the greatest crisis in the nation’s capital since the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Because the Vice President, Speaker of the House, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate are in the line of succession, all were reportedly evacuated from the capitol, putting an end to the certification of the presidential vote which was marked by House and Senate members falsely claiming that the election was ridden by fraud.

The District of Columbia has protocols with the many government law enforcement agencies that permeate the city including the Capitol Police, the Secret Service, the Federal Protective Service, the FBI and the National Guard. A formidable federal response appeared to be underway to aid the besieged Capitol Police.

Hundreds of protestors, many with Trump flags,  breached the Capitol after being incited by the president who silently failed to call for order. Video of protestors smashing glass doors and reports of members of Congress being told to shelter in place stunned Americans who couldn’t imagine a moment like this.

The challenge for law enforcement is how to end the crisis. Many of the protestors may be armed. Getting them and members of Congress as well as staff and Capitol personnel safely out of the building. Would the President encourage them to leave? Might he pardon anyone arrested? Those were the kind of unthinkable questions that loomed over the Capitol.

Matthew Cooper

Follow Matthew on Twitter @mattizcoop. Matthew Cooper is Executive Editor Digital at the Washington Monthly. He is also a contributing editor of the magazine and a veteran reporter who has covered politics and the White House for Time, The New Republic, Washingtonian, National Journal and many other publications.