US President Joe Biden on Thursday called the pro-Trump mob that sieged the US Capitol "domestic terrorists" and said they would have been treated differently had they been Black Lives Matter protesters.
The offenders should not be called protesters, rather "a riotous mob, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists," Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware.
He said outgoing President Donald Trump was guilty of "trying to use a mob to silence the voices of nearly 160 million Americans" who voted in the November presidential election.
One of 'darkest days' in history of US
Biden blamed Trump for "one of the darkest days" in US history.
Biden said Trump has "made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done" and that Trump's "all-out attack" on the country's democratic institutions ultimately led to the violence on Wednesday.
Biden said that had the attackers belonged to the Black Lives Matter group, they would have suffered far greater consequences and that it was a clear failure of law enforcement to carry out equal justice.
"No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday... they would have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol," Biden said. "We all know that's true, and it is unacceptable."
White House 'condemns' violence
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany made a statement to reporters on Thursday following the riots, saying Trump and his administration "condemn" the violence "in the strongest possible terms."
"Let me be clear: The violence we saw yesterday at our nation's Capitol was appalling, reprehensible and antithetical to the American way," she told reporters.
"Those who violently besieged our capital are the opposite of everything this administration stands for," McEnany said, while mourning those who were injured and thanking law enforcement officers.
She also said "those who are working in this building, are working to ensure an orderly transition of power."
McEnany then quickly left the podium following the brief statement, without taking questions from reporters.
Acting United States Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin told reporters that 40 people have been criminally charged in the past 36 hours and that he expects another 15 soon.
Sherwin said that there was a lot of theft from the Capitol building, with materials stolen from several offices raising national security concerns. One person was arrested while in possession of a military-style gun and molotov cocktails.
He said Justice Department was scouring social media for further leads, and that this was just the beginning. He said charges of seditious conspiracy, rioting, and insurrection could be possible.
"They will be brought to justice," he said.
Democrats call for impeachment
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer have both called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from power. The amendment allows the vice president to assume the role of president if the vice president and at least half the Cabinet agree the president is unfit or unable to fulfill the duties of the office.
Schumer and Pelosi said that if Pence failed to remove Trump from office, they would begin a second impeachment process.
At least one House Republican has joined those calls, with Adam Kinzinger, a frequent Trump critic. He said in a video on Twitter that that Trump is "unfit" and "unwell." Kinzinger said Trump "must now relinquish control of the executive branch voluntarily or involuntarily."
tg, aw/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)