US lawmakers have decried an “attempted coup” against the government after supporters of President Donald Trump mobbed Congress and shut down legislative sessions. Here’s how allies and foes reacted:
It should have been one of the most straightforward days of the US presidential transition, with Congress certifying Democrat Joe Biden's victory, a procedure so routine it usually merits little if any news coverage.
Instead, the world watched in shock and horror, with a measure of glee n social media, on Wednesday as a mob of Donald Trump supporters, encouraged by the president, stormed the US Capitol in a bid to thwart lawmakers from their constitutional duty.
The teargas and bullets inside the Capitol, a globally recognised structure that stands at the centre of America’s idea of democracy, are more usually associated with countries where popular uprisings topple a hated dictator.
This time, however, it was an attempt by Americans to stop a peaceful transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden after a democratic election in a country that many around the world have looked at as a model for democratic governance.
Two top aides to first lady Melania Trump resigned on Wednesday in the wake of violence on Capitol Hill, and more top White House officials were considering resigning, including national security adviser Robert O'Brien and his deputy, Matthew Pottinger, sources familiar with the matter said.
Stephanie Grisham resigned as chief of staff to the first lady after supporters of President Donald Trump violently occupied the US Capitol in an effort to block Congress from certifying the presidential election results.
"It has been an honour to serve the country in the White House. I am very proud to have been a part of Mrs. Trump’s mission to help children everywhere, and proud of the many accomplishments of this administration," Grisham said in a statement.
A source familiar with Grisham's decision said the violence was the last straw for her.
The White House social secretary, Rickie Niceta, also resigned, as did a deputy White House press secretary, Sarah Matthews, two sources told Reuters.
My first experience in government was serving as an intern for US Senator S.I. Hayakawa of California. What the mob did to our Senate Chamber today was an utter disgrace.— Robert C. O'Brien (@robertcobrien) January 6, 2021
It has been an honor to serve the country in the @WhiteHouse . I am very proud to have been a part of @FLOTUS @MELANIATRUMP mission to help children everywhere, & proud of the many accomplishments of this Administration. Signing off now - you can find me at @OMGrisham ❤️🇺🇸— Stephanie Grisham (@StephGrisham45) January 7, 2021
Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham signalled breaking ranks with Trump.
Speaking on the Senate floor during a joint session of Congress, Graham, one of Trump's hitherto staunchest allies, said he and the president "had a hell of a journey."
"I hate it being this way. Oh my God I hate it," he said in animated remarks after Congress reconvened after being stormed by Trump's supporters. "All I can say is 'count me out. Enough is enough. I've tried to be helpful."
Liz Cheney, a top House Republican and the daughter of Bush's vice president, was much more direct in an interview on Fox News.
“There's no question the president formed the mob. The president incited the mob," Cheney said. “He lit the flame.”
I prayed @JoeBiden would lose.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 7, 2021
He’s the legitimate president of the United States.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and vice president of the United States on January 20th.
South Carolina Representative Republican Nancy Mace, said Trump’s accomplishments in office “were wiped out today”.
Anthony Scaramucci, a former communications director, often has harsh words for Trump but offered his harshest on Wednesday for Trump's Republican enablers.
“Republican elected officials still supporting Trump need to be tried alongside of him for treason,” he tweeted.
There was also chatter inside the White House that deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell might resign, a source said.
The White House declined to comment.
Twitter and Facebook blocked the accounts of US President Donald Trump.
Twitter on Thursday said the outgoing president's account will be locked for 12 hours and threatened its permanent suspension, as tech giants scrambled to crack down on his baseless claims about the US presidential elections amid riots at the US Capitol.
Facebook blocked Trump's account for 24 hours over policy violations.
You should resign. You disgraced the country. Trump should be indicted. https://t.co/5IJPZgNKMA— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) January 6, 2021
Just evacuated my office in Cannon due to a nearby threat. Now we’re seeing protesters assaulting Capitol Police.— Rep. Nancy Mace (@RepNancyMace) January 6, 2021
This is wrong. This is not who we are. I’m heartbroken for our nation today. pic.twitter.com/jC9P0YfSLQ
Reaction from Europe
Charles Michel, chairman of EU leaders, on Twitter expressed his shock at the scenes in Washington. "The US Congress is a temple of democracy ... we trust the US to ensure a peaceful transfer of power to @JoeBiden."
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: "I believe in the strength of US institutions and democracy. Peaceful transition of power is at the core. @JoeBiden won the election. I look forward to working with him as the next President of the USA."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "furious and saddened" and that the president shared blame for the unrest.
"Doubts about the election outcome were stoked and created the atmosphere that made the events of last night possible," she said, welcoming a statement by President-elect Joe Biden as well as "many reactions from both major parties of the US" which she said reassured her "that this democracy will prove to be much stronger than the attackers and rioters".
"What happened today in Washington DC is not American, definitely," French President Emmanuel Macron said in a video message on Twitter.
"We believe in the strength of our democracies. We believe in the strength of American democracy," he said, speaking in English.
“We must call this out for what it is: a deliberate assault on Democracy by a sitting President and his supporters, attempting to overturn a free and fair election! The world is watching! ” Irish Foreign and Defense Minister Simon Coveney said on Twitter, representing a tone of outrage that many world leaders took.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a tweet called the events in the US Congress a "disgrace", saying the US stood for democracy around the world and that was it was "vital" now that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.
British interior minister Priti Patel said Trump's rhetoric in disputing his loss of the US presidential election led directly to "terrible" violence and he should condemn the scenes in Washington.
"His comments directly led to the violence, and so far, he has failed to condemn that violence and that is completely wrong," Patel, who is in charge of security and policing in Britain, told BBC TV.
Disgraceful scenes in U.S. Congress. The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 6, 2021
Statement from Turkey
Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing concern about the violence and called for calm and common sense while urging its citizens to avoid crowds and the protest area.
The ministry called on all parties in the US to use moderation and common sense.
Turkey is monitoring "worrying" developments in the US, including attempts to storm the Capitol building, the ministry said in the statement.
"We believe that the US will overcome this domestic crisis calmly," it added.
Turkey's presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin later tweeted that Turkey follows the development with "concern".
We follow the recent developments in the US capital with a lot of concern.— Ibrahim Kalin (@ikalin1) January 6, 2021
'Shocking ... disgraceful ... rampage'
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the violent protests in Washington "shocking scenes" and said the outcome of the democratic US election must be respected.
"Since its independence, America, our great and true friend, has been a beacon of democracy, and stood for the values of freedom, justice and independence," Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said on Twitter.
"I am sure that the American people and their elected representatives will know how to fend off this attack and will continue to defend the values on which the United States was founded."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his concern about events in Washington. "Obviously we're concerned and we're following the situation minute by minute," Trudeau told the News 1130 Vancouver radio station. "I think the American democratic institutions are strong, and hopefully everything will return to normal shortly."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been a close ally of Trump, described the Capitol violence as a "rampage" and "a disgraceful act that must be vigorously condemned".
The Israeli leader said he had "no doubt that "American democracy will prevail", adding: "It always has".
Shocking scenes in Washington, D.C. The outcome of this democratic election must be respected.— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) January 6, 2021
2/2— גבי אשכנזי - Gabi Ashkenazi (@Gabi_Ashkenazi) January 7, 2021
I am sure that the American people and their elected representatives will know how to fend off this attack and will continue to defend the values on which the United States was founded.
Chaos, violence, mockery
Some global observers, though, seemed to be revelling in the burst of violence that marked the closing days of a presidency that has divided opinion abroad almost as strongly as it has in America.
"Quite Maidan-style pictures are coming from DC," Russia's deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy posted on Twitter, referring to protests in Ukraine that toppled Russian-backed President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich in 2014.
"Some of my friends ask whether someone will distribute crackers to the protesters to echo Victoria Nuland stunt," he said, citing a 2013 visit to Ukraine when then-US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland offered food to protesters.
In China, which has had constant friction with the Trump administration over trade, military and political issues, people were scathing in their criticism of Trump and his supporters, citing both his failure to control the coronavirus pandemic and the mob action in Washington.
The Communist Youth League ran a photo montage of the violence at the Capitol on its Twitter-like Weibo microblog with the caption: “On the sixth, the US Congress, a most beautiful site to behold.” That appeared to mock House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her June 2019 comments in praise of sometimes violent anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
Iran, another country that faces routine US criticism over violations of human rights and democratic values, jumped on the insurrection as proof of American hypocrisy.
The semiofficial Fars news agency called the United States a “fragmented democracy,” while Iran’s pro-government Twitter accounts gloated, circulating photos of the mobs with hashtags that included #DownfalloftheUS.
“The beauty of democracy?” with a shrug emoji was the reaction tweeted by Bashir Ahmad, a personal assistant to the president of Nigeria, which has seen several coups since independence, including one led decades ago by President Muhammadu Buhari, who most recently entered the office via a vote.
The Beauty of Democracy? 🤷🏽♂️— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) January 6, 2021
Some legislatures in Asia, South Korea and Taiwan, for instance, have at times been marred with brawls and screaming, but democracies throughout the region are normally staid versions of European and American lawmaking models.
“This is shocking. I hope this will serve as chance for the Americans to review their democracy,” said Na HyunPil at the Korean House for International Solidarity, a Seoul-based NGO. “Trump is entirely responsible for this incident. After his four-year rule, the Americans find it difficult to tell other countries that their country is a good model for democracy.”
Several countries, both allies and antagonists of America, issued travel warnings to their citizens.
From Venezuela to Asia
“What is happening is wrong,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement. “Democracy, the right of people to exercise a vote, have their voice heard and then have that decision upheld peacefully, should never be undone by a mob.”
The prime minister of the world's largest democracy, India's Narendra Modi, said on Twitter: “Distressed to see news about rioting and violence in Washington DC. Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue. The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests.”
Venezuela, which is under US sanctions, said the events in Washington show that the US “is suffering what it has generated in other countries with its politics of aggression.”
“This is insurrection. Nothing less. In Washington,” tweeted Carl Bildt, a former prime minister of Sweden.