The storming of the US capital by violent pro-Trump rioters has been condemned as “mayhem” and “appalling” by a former president and an attempt at a “banana republic coup” by a prominent political historian.
But only a few world leaders have called out US President Donald Trump by name.
And some of the outgoing President’s most blinkered supporters have posited, without evidence, that the unrest which has seen the Capitol Building under siege is the work of Antifa protesters not Trump supporters.
A curfew is now in place in the US capital after Trump supporters stormed the building containing the House of Representatives and the Senate on Wednesday (US time).
Congress had just stated a joint session, overseen by Vice President Mike Pence, to formally count the results from the Electoral College.
The rioters breached the barricades surrounding the building and clashed with police on its steps, eventually overwhelming law enforcement and forcing their way inside.
A full lockdown was imposed, with senators locked inside the Senate Chamber, before all members of Congress were evacuated.
NBC News has reported that a woman who was shot during the chaos has now died.
Later, Mr Trump took to the White House lawn to ask for the violence to end. But during his speech, he repeated unfounded claims that have failed to get any legal traction, that the election was stolen.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long,” he tweeted.
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PRESIDENT BUSH CONDEMNS VIOLENCE
But the last Republican to inhabit the White House, George W Bush, saw it very differently.
“Laura and I are watching the scenes of mayhem unfolding at the seat of our nation’s government in disbelief and dismay,” Mr Bush said.
“It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight. This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic, not our democratic republic.
“I am appalled by the reckless behaviour of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions and our law enforcement,” he wrote.
Mr Pence, who had infuriated Mr Trump by refusing to meddle in the Electoral College certification process tweeted: “The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop.”
Renowned US-British historian Niall Ferguson, a prominent political commentator in the US, echoed Mr Bush’s banana republic line.
“Today’s scenes in the Capitol are a disgrace.
“The organisers and perpetrators of this banana republic coup attempt must be prosecuted and punished. Any politician who does not unequivocally condemn what happened should have no future in democratic politics.”
Prof Ferguson, however, questioned the role of the police asking how it was possible for rioters to storm what might have been expected to be one of the most secure buildings in the US.
“Was this just ineptitude? A grave danger in a situation such as this arises if the police have been politicised to the point of sympathising with the mob.”
However, he was hopeful the scenes were the last gasp of radical politics – on both sides.
“Rather than worsening the country’s polarisation, the events of the past months have restored the centre ground. Trump lost; so did the far left of the Democratic Party.
“This, at least, is my hope: That having been infected by the virus of anti-democratic politics, we may have acquired some resistance to it.”
REMOVE DONALD TRUMP
George Conway, the husband of Trump staffer Kellyanne Conway, condemned both the violence and Mr Trump.
Once considered within Mr Trump’s orbit, the lawyer later helped to set up the Lincoln Project, a political campaign set up by Republicans to oust the President.
“When the Capitol is cleared and secured, and the joint session of Congress and the electoral vote count is completed, the House and the Senate should proceed immediately to the impeachment and removal of Donald Trump,” he said.
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WORLD LEADERS REACT
Leaders from across the world have denounced the violence.
“Disgraceful scenes in US Congress,” tweeted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“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.”
Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney didn’t mince his words, placing the blame squarely on the President’s shoulders.
“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.”
Scott Morrison didn’t mention Mr Trump by name when he declared the scenes in Washington D.C. as “very distressing”.
“We condemn these acts of violence and look forward to a peaceful transfer of government to the newly elected administration in the great American democratic tradition.”
Former PM Malcolm Turnbull had no such qualms.
“Today’s mob violence at the Capitol is the culmination of Trump’s sustained assault on American democracy,” he said.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz was criticised on social media when he condemned the violence.
“Those storming the Capitol need to stop NOW. The Constitution protects peaceful protest, but violence – from left or right – is ALWAYS wrong,” he tweeted.
But it was pointed out that he was one of a handful of senators who intended to object to the certification of the Electoral College results, giving the debunked claims of a stolen election legitimacy.
Beto O’Rourke, who stood unsuccessfully against Mr Cruz for his senate seat, called out his foe.
“It is your self-serving attempt at sedition that has helped to inspire these terrorists and their attempted coup,” he said.
A furious Mr Cruz replied: “Stop stoking division. Stop spreading hatred. Stop using malicious rhetoric (such as false and reckless charges of ‘sedition’). Stop showing contempt for the half of the country that disagrees with you. Violence is wrong. We can do better.”
Sidney Powell, a lawyer who briefly helped the Trump team contest the election results before being sacked after a series of outlandish claims, made another eye-opening remark saying it wasn’t Mr Trump’s supporters causing the unrest at all.
“We see through these antics. They aren’t even smart enough to hide it. Antifa terrorists are starting the violence.”
There is no evidence to suggest the protesters are anything but supporters of Mr Trump.
As for president-elect Joe Biden, he called the disturbing scenes in Washington D.C. a “siege”.
“The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not represent who we are. What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It borders on sedition and it must end. Now,” he wrote.
“The President should call on the mob he incited to disperse and go home. And Trump’s supporters in the GOP and the media should reflect on what they have enabled.”