Video, photos capture chaos on Capitol Hill as protesters swarm building

Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting challenges to Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

At least one explosive device has been found near the U.S. Capitol amid a violent occupation of the building

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 6: Trump supporters stand on the U.S. Capitol Police armored vehicle as others take over the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, as the Congress works to certify the electoral college votes. (Photo By Bill Clark/C

The protesters broke into the building as Congress was beginning the formal process of certifying the electoral votes that gave Democratic President-elect Joe Biden a victory over Trump in November.

Vice President Mike Pence has the ceremonial role of overseeing that certification and resisted Trump efforts to pressure him to overturn the election results.  

The protesters were egged on for weeks by Trump, who since the November presidential election had launched a barrage of false attacks on the integrity of the results. While rallying his supporters outside the White House Wednesday morning, he urged them to march to the Capitol. But later -- hours after they fought police and breached the building -- he told them in a video that although they were "very special people" and he backed their cause, they should "go home in peace."

Other than a pair of tweets and that minute-long video, Trump was largely disengaged from the occupation of a main seat of the nation's government. It was Vice President Mike Pence, not Trump, who spoke with senior defense leaders about calling up the National Guard.  

President-elect Biden, two weeks away from being inaugurated, had declared in Wilmington, Delaware: "I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege,"   Biden said that democracy was "under unprecedented assault," a sentiment echoed by many in Congress, including some Republicans. 

Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol as tear gas fills the corridor on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electora

Even for a Capitol building that has seen centuries of protests and even violence -- including a 1954 shooting involving Puerto Rican nationalists -- Wednesday's events were astounding because they appeared to unfold at least initially with the blessing of the president and also because of the underlying goal of overturning the results of a lawful presidential election.

In a raucous, out-of-control scene, protesters fought past police and breached the building, shouting and waving Trump and American flags as they marched through the halls. One person was reported shot at the Capitol, according to a person familiar with the situation.

That person's condition was unknown. At least one explosive device was found but law enforcement said it did not pose a threat.   More than a dozen people were arrested.  

As darkness began to set in, law enforcement officials worked their way toward the protesters, using percussion grenades to try to clear the area around the Capitol. Big clouds of tear gas were visible. Police in full riot gear moved down the steps, clashing with demonstrators.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: U.S. Capitol Police draw their guns as protesters attempt to enter the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect

A supporter of US President Donald Trump sits at a desk after invading the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electora

U.S. Capitol Police stand detain protesters outside of the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: U.S. Capitol police officers point their guns at a door that was vandalized in the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify Pres

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester is seen hanging from the balcony in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over Presid

Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda as reported tear gas smoke fills a corridor on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 preside

Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather outside the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certi

U.S. Capitol police officers point their guns at a door that was vandalized in the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Supporters of US President Donald Trump roam under the Capitol Rotunda after invading the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential el

US Capitol police officers try to stop supporters of US President Donald Trump to enter the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election

US Capitol police officers try to stop supporters of US President Donald Trump to enter the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election

Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol as smoke fills the corridor on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: People wear plastic bags s protesters attempt to enter the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's

Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Members of congress run for cover as protesters try to enter the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Bi

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: U.S. Capitol Police draw their guns as protesters attempt to enter the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect