Four dead as Trump supporters storm US Capitol

Angry supporters of President Donald Trump have stormed the US Capitol in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power.

The attack, which left four people dead, forced politicians to rush from the building and interrupted challenges to Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

President Trump issued a restrained call for peace well after the protests was under way but did not urge supporters to disperse. Earlier he had seemingly egged them on to march to Capitol Hill.

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Pro-Trump protesters swarm US Capitol
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Pro-Trump protesters swarm US Capitol
TOPSHOT - A supporter of US President Donald Trump wears a gas mask as he protests after storming the US Capitol 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. President-elect Joe Biden denounced the storming of the US Capitol as an "insurrection" and demanded President Donald Trump go on television to call an end to the violent "siege." (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol earlier, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
US President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Queen Theater on January 6, 2021, in Wilmington, Delaware. - Biden on Wednesday denounced the storming of the US Capitol as an "insurrection" and demanded President Donald Trump go on television to call an end to the violent "siege." (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters supporting U.S. President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol 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 President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building during demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol earlier, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester supporting U.S. President Donald Trump moves to the floor of the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol Building 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 President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
A Trump supporter waves a flag as he stands on an government vehicle in front of the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON D.C., USA - JANUARY 6: Equipment of media crews damaged during clashes after the US President Donald Trumps supporters breached the US Capitol security in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off Wednesday on President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in what was supposed to be a routine process headed to Inauguration Day. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Trump supporters gather in front of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the US Capitol in Washington, DC,as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by virginie kippelen / AFP) (Photo by VIRGINIE KIPPELEN/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Police officers attempt to push back a pro-Trump mob trying to storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol earlier, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Police officers in riot gear line up as protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Thousands of Donald Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A large group of protesters stormed the historic building, breaking windows and clashing with police. Trump supporters had gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON D.C., USA - JANUARY 6: Security forces take measures at the entrance of US Capitol and respond after the US President Donald Trumps supporters breached the US Capitol security in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off Wednesday on President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in what was supposed to be a routine process headed to Inauguration Day. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol as smoke fills the corridor on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. There are no reports of tear gas being used at the Capitol. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Police officers in riot gear walks towards the U.S. Capitol as protesters enter the building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters stand on scaffolding outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
A man calls on people to raid the building as Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the Capital Building in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol 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. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather on the second day of pro-Trump events fueled by President Donald Trump's continued claims of election fraud in an to overturn the results before Congress finalizes them in a joint session of the 117th Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times 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. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters enter the U.S. Capitol Building 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 President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/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. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters interact with Capitol Police inside the U.S. Capitol Building 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 President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol 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. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A man is seen bleeding outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather on the second day of pro-Trump events fueled by President Donald Trump's continued claims of election fraud in an to overturn the results before Congress finalizes them in a joint session of the 117th Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters enter 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 President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/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. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump take over stands set up for the presidential inauguration as they protest at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester sits 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 President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Members of Congress evacuate the House Chamber as protesters attempt to enter 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 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters enter 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 President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester sits 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 President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Police hold back supporters of US President Donald Trump as they 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 Certification. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol 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. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather inside the U.S. Capitol Building 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 President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump take over stands set up for the presidential inauguration as they protest at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. - Thousands of Trump supporters, fueled by his spurious claims of voter fraud, are flooding the nation's capital protesting the expected certification of Joe Biden's White House victory by the US Congress. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester is seen inside the US Capitol Building 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 President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building during demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol 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. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (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. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
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/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence preside over a Joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 Electoral College results on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. - Congress is meeting to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, with scores of Republican lawmakers preparing to challenge the tally in a number of states during what is normally a largely ceremonial event. (Photo by Erin Schaff / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ERIN SCHAFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Wednesday's ordinarily mundane procedure of Congress certifying a new president was always going to be extraordinary, with Republican supporters of Mr Trump vowing to protest over the results of an election that they have baselessly insisted was reversed by fraud.

But even the unusual deliberations, which included the Republican vice president and Senate majority leader defying Mr Trump's demands, were quickly overtaken.

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.

Police said four people died in the protests. Washington DC police chief Robert Contee said the dead included a woman who was shot by US Capitol Police, as well as three others who died in "medical emergencies".

Police said both law enforcement and protesters deployed chemical irritants during the hours-long occupation of the Capitol building before it was cleared by law enforcement.

The woman was shot as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol where police were armed on the other side. She was hospitalised with a gunshot wound and later died.

DC police officials also said two pipe bombs were recovered, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee.

The protesters abruptly interrupted the congressional proceedings in an eerie scene that featured official warnings directing people to duck under their seats for cover and put on gas masks after tear gas was used in the Capitol Rotunda.

With the crowds showing no signs of abating, President Trump tweeted: "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!"

Earlier, at his rally, he had urged supporters to march to the Capitol.

Senators were being evacuated. Some House politicians tweeted they were sheltering in place in their offices.

Electoral College Protests
Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol (AP)

Demonstrators fought with Capitol Police and then forced their way into the building, not long after a huge rally near the White House during which Trump egged them on to march to Capitol Hill.

Politicians had convened for an extraordinary joint session to confirm the Electoral College results.

Though fellow Republicans were behind the challenge to Biden's 306-232 Electoral College victory, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sought to lower tensions and argued against it. He warned the country "cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes" with "separate facts."

Mr McConnell declared: "The voters, the courts and the states all have spoken."

But other Republicans, including House GOP leaders among Mr Trump's allies were acting out the pleas of supporters at his huge Wednesday rally up Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House to "fight for Trump."

"We have to fix this," said Rep Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the GOP whip.

The last-gasp effort is all but certain to fail, defeated by bipartisan majorities in Congress prepared to accept the November results. Mr Biden is to be inaugurated on January 20.

Still, Mr Trump vowed to he would "never concede" and urged the massive crowd to march to the Capitol where hundreds had already gathered under tight security.

"We will never give up," Mr Trump told his noontime rally.

Congress Electoral College
Capitol Police with guns drawn stand near a barricaded door (AP)

Vice President Mike Pence was closely watched as he stepped onto the dais to preside over the joint session in the House chamber.

Mr Pence has a largely ceremonial role, opening the sealed envelopes from the states after they are carried in mahogany boxes used for the occasion, and reading the results aloud.

But he was under growing pressure from Trump to overturn the will of the voters and tip the results in the president's favour, despite having no legal power to affect the outcome.

"Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!" Mr Trump tweeted.

But Mr Pence, in a statement shortly before presiding, defied Mr Trump, saying he could not claim "unilateral authority" to reject the electoral votes that make Mr Biden president.

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.

The Pentagon said about 1,100 District of Columbia National Guard members were being mobilised to help support law enforcement at the Capitol.

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