While surreal and shocking to most of the US and the world, the unrest that rocked Washington DC on Wednesday did not come as a surprise to some political analysts.
The deadly siege of the Capitol by Trump loyalists was the result of President Donald Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, said Michael Bitzer, professor of American politics and history at Catawba College in North Carolina.
“This was four years in the making,” he told Euronews. “Four years ago, Trump talked about American carnage. Yesterday’s activities were the culmination of it.”
Congress had to interrupt its count of electoral college votes on Wednesday when a mob smashed windows and rushed into the building. Lawmakers huddled under their seats and donned gas masks while police tried to push back the rioters.
As authorities regained control of the situation, Congress resumed its count overnight. On Thursday morning, it formally certified Joe Biden’s victory with 306 electoral votes, compared to 232 for Trump, paving the way for Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
A sombre Biden called the Capitol riots an “unprecedented assault” on American democracy.
“Even if few would have guessed the situation would devolve into what it did, the scenario wasn’t entirely unforeseeable either,” said Thomas Gift, associate professor of political science at University College London.
“Trump egged on these protesters by continuing to spout his baseless accusations of vote-rigging,” he told Euronews.
‘Be a hero, or a zero’
Shortly before violence broke out on Capitol Hill, President Trump had riled up supporters at a rally just outside the seat of the US parliament.
He and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani hammered their claims that the election was stolen – as did the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who urged the crowd to stand up and “fight”.
“You have an opportunity today: you can be a hero, or you can be a zero,” Trump Jr. told the crowd.
After weeks of stoking tensions over the outcome of the election, Trump finally pledged on Thursday an “orderly” transition of power, in a statement released by White House spokesman Dan Scavino.
But will die-hard Trump supporters accept a peaceful transfer of power?
“I don’t see Donald Trump necessarily accepting it. He is going to say that there will be an orderly transition. There has not been an orderly transition,” Bitzer said.
“Even after January 20, Donald Trump will continue to use this as his platform for a potential 2024 run. The Republican Party is wholly beholden to Donald Trump and he will use it to his advantage over the next four years plus.”
A YouGov survey released on Thursday morning suggests that 45% of Republicans either strongly or somewhat approve of the storming of the Capitol building.
“This is the segment of the American right that relentlessly supports Trump… It’s also the segment of the American right that many Republican politicians, regrettably, are so afraid of alienating,” said Gift.
“Donald Trump will cast a long shadow over the Republican Party even after he leaves office. I think that much is clear.”
Watch Michael Bitzer’s interview in the video player above.