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Late night hosts responded Wednesday evening to the large groups of pro-Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to thwart a peaceful transfer of power to incoming President-elect Joe Biden.
In massive numbers, the rioters breached the building and entered the Senate floor, where individuals were advised to shelter-in-place prior to being evacuated. The situation, deemed chaotic and unsafe, resulted in National Guard members being called up to support law enforcement at the scene, which was characterized by people with American flags shouting through the halls. While the Capitol was secured, one female rioter was shot and later died.
On The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert’s monologue lacked its usual polish as he said today’s shameful events had left him shaken. A visibly furious Colbert, who said he had “rarely been as upset as I am tonight,” spent time calling out Republicans, such as Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz as well as Fox News, which had enabled Trump for so many years. “Have you had enough? After five years of coddling this president’s fascist rhetoric, guess whose followers want to burn down the Reichstag,” he said.
He added, “Who could have seen this coming? Everyone. Even dummies like me. This is the most shocking, most tragic, least surprising thing I’ve ever seen. For years now, people have been telling you cowards that if you let this president lie and lie over again and then join him in that lie and say he’s right when you know for a fact he’s not, there will be a terrible price to pay. But you just thought you’d never have to pay it, too. I really do hope you’re enjoying those tax cuts. And those judges! Because they’re going to be busy throwing these idiots in jail,” he said.
Recording Jimmy Kimmel Live! from his house amid the alarming levels of COVID-19 infections that have continued to rise in California, host Jimmy Kimmel welcomed viewers to the “treason finale of the Donald Trump era” and referred to Wednesday’s events as “a terrible day in the history of this country.” He acknowledged that the riots were not the sort of thing he imagined would happen in this country during his lifetime. “The president of the United States, because he is too angry, too insecure and too incompetent to deal with the fact that he lost an election — a fair election — an election that was no different than any other election, an election he lost by 7 million votes, and 70 electors, turns an angry mob against members of Congress and his own vice president.”
Noting that trespassers “roamed the halls” and broke into offices, Kimmel referred to the rioters as a “psychotic Price Is Right audience forcibly taking control of the Plinko wheel.” He added that one of them was dressed up as a Viking, while another “made off with a podium” and lawmakers had to scramble to the basement for cover.
Listing a group that included Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Ted Cruz, the late night host declared, “These people are not Americans.” He added, “There is no, ‘We the people’ — there is ‘Me the people’ and that’s it.” Kimmel later said, “And the wildest part is these MAGA marchers — think Donald Trump cares about them. He doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t care about your wife, or your job or your health care or the air you breathe — the water you drink. He cares about himself. And only about himself.”
Kimmel also took aim at Cruz. “Ted Cruz, this guy doesn’t even believe the election was stolen,” Kimmel said. “He knows better than that. He’s so hungry for political power. He’s so desperate to be liked and supported by these nuts who think Joe Biden is a Chinese agent and Satan is trying to force them to wear masks to the mall so that one day he can be president, he’s willing to roll the dice on civil war.”
In place of his opening monologue, Seth Meyers took to the Late Night stage to call for consequences for those responsible of the “violent insurgency” that took place — namely, Trump himself, along with supporters such as Cruz, Giuliani and Hawley.
“The only way our democracy will survive this harrowing moment is if [Trump] is immediately removed from office by either the Cabinet or the Congress, and prosecuted,” Meyers insisted. “Anything less is tacit permission to continue to use his office and his influence after he leaves office to foment sedition and dismantle democracy.”
On a positive note, Meyers praised the events in Georgia on Tuesday, when voters took to the polls to elect the first Black senator to represent the state in Rev. Raphael Warnock, in addition to electing Jon Ossoff, the Jewish son of an immigrant.
“If my grandfather were alive today and saw what was happening in the country that he fought for, he’d be disgusted,” Fallon said. “People walking around with the flag upside down, thinking they’re patriotic. Today was not patriotism. Today was terrorism. “
Even as he condemned the actions of the rioters, Fallon finished on an optimistic note, assuring viewers that “there are more good people than there are bad. And good will prevail.”
Later, Don Cheadle explained to Fallon how he was digesting the news from the nation’s Capitol. “Unfortunately, we’re watching a historical event that could have been predicted, I believe, and we’re watching it happen in real time and I’m glad I’m with my family and we’re all processing this together.” Fallon called the events “scary,” “bizarre” and “frightening,” expressing his surprise that people were even able to get into Capitol Hill with the high levels of security. “I’m just watching it like it’s a horror movie, like I’m watching security footage of my house being broken into or something.”
Meanwhile, James Corden provided a hopeful message for his audience, from an outsider’s perspective.
“As an outsider, growing up in England, I used to look to America as this beacon of light and possibility: a place where anything can happen, a place where you’d be lucky to work,” Corden explained. And despite the events unfolding in the last days of Trump’s presidency, Corden encouraged viewers to “make no mistake that [people across the world] know the America they they admire still exists.”
“They know the America that so many aspire to will be back,” the Late Late Show host continued. “It’s just been hijacked by a lunatic and his crazy army for the last four years.”
“I really do believe that there are better times ahead,” Corden said.
As the events unfolded, Hollywood figures such as Sacha Baron Cohen, Sarah Silverman, Ben Stiller and more took to social media to react to the news, with some calling for Twitter to shut down Trump’s official account, which has been filled with claims of election fraud since the presidential election in November.
Trump, who earlier in the day had egged on the protesters, eventually posted a video message to his Twitter account urging people to “go home.” He still referred to the election as “fraudulent.”
His video, which was initially flagged by Twitter, was eventually removed by the social media platform, as well as Facebook and YouTube. Twitter also temporarily froze his account for 12 hours over his false election messaging. Later on Thursday, Facebook extended its ban to last at least through Jan. 20.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, Trump agreed to an “orderly transition on January 20th” in a statement that was posted to Twitter by his social media director. The acknowledgment comes amid circulating reports that some of the president’s Cabinet members have begun informal talks about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
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