U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for peace and told protesters to go home after hundreds of demonstrators stormed the U.S. Capitol building and sought to force Congress to undo his election loss to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump, in a video on Twitter, repeated an unsupported claim the election was stolen, but said "you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order."
Twitter restricted users sharing and commenting the video, writing: "This claim of election fraud is disputed, and this Tweet can’t be replied to, Retweeted, or liked due to a risk of violence."
Biden, who defeated the Republican president in the Nov. 3 election and is due to take office on Jan. 20, said the activity of the protesters "borders on sedition."
The former vice president said that for demonstrators to storm the Capitol, smash windows, occupy offices, invade the halls of Congress and threaten the safety of duly elected officials: "It's not a protest, it's insurrection."
"I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward," Biden added, urging Trump to go on national television to demand "an end to this siege."
Video showed protesters breaking windows and police deploying teargas inside the building. Local media reported that one person had been shot and video showed a person being wheeled from the building on a stretcher.
Vice President Mike Pence, who had presided over the joint session of Congress, had already been escorted from the Senate.
The chaotic scenes unfolded after Trump, who before the election refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost, addressed thousands of protesters, repeating unfounded claims that the contest was stolen from him due to widespread election fraud and irregularities. Lawmakers had been debating a last-ditch effort by pro-Trump lawmakers to challenge the results, an effort that was unlikely to succeed.
Critics had called the effort by the Republican lawmakers an attack on American democracy and the rule of law and an attempted legislative coup.
The top two Democrats in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, called on Trump to demand that all the protesters leave the Capitol and its grounds immediately.
Capitol Police told lawmakers in the House chamber to take gas masks from beneath their seats and prepare to put them on. Officers at the front door of the House chamber had their guns drawn as someone attempted to enter the chamber.
Officers ordered people in the chamber to drop to the floor for their safety. Several hundred House members, staff and press were evacuated to an undisclosed location and were told not to leave.
Election officials of both parties and independent observers have said there was no significant fraud in the Nov. 3 contest, which Biden won by more than 7 million votes in the national popular vote.
Weeks have passed since the states completed certifying that Biden, a Democrat, won the election by 306 Electoral College votes to Trump's 232. Trump's extraordinary challenges to Biden's victory have been rejected by courts across the country.