Hot mic catches moment staffer tells Sen. Lankford that 'protesters are in the building'

Pro-Trump protesters breach security barriers on Capitol Hill

US Capitol Police are on the scene with tear gas as protests erupt during the electoral vote count.

Debates in the House and Senate over electoral votes are on hold, after both chambers went to recess as protesters stormed the Capitol building Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate was the first to put a pause on proceedings. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., was in the middle of explaining why he was objecting to electoral votes from Arizona.

"Protesters are in the building," an aide could be heard saying to Lankford after recess was first announced.

The House called a recess soon after, and since then the House chamber has been barricaded and House members, staffers, and journalists were being moved from the chamber. At one point, police in the chamber were seen with guns drawn, looking to keep protesters out.

Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

This came amid violent clashes between protesters and Capitol Police, and after the Cannon House Office Building and Madison Library of Congress Building were briefly evacuated because of a bomb threat after several suspicious packages were reportedly found in the area.

As protesters made their way inside the Capitol building, one of them told a PBS reporter that he did this because he is "fed up with our politicians." The protester, who would not identify himself, said police fired rubber bullets at them "before we did anything."

When asked if breaking into the Capitol was violent, he replied, "Was 1776 violent?" In response to the reporter asking if Wednesday's protests were equal to the American Revolution, the man said it "might be the first stepping stones."

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has called a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. citywide curfew that applies to everyone except designated essential workers including the media, as well as any other "persons designated by the Mayor."

President Trump offered support for police and discouraged violence.

"I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful," he tweeted. "No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!"

Similarly, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, one of the leaders of the objectors, denounced violent protests.

"Those storming the Capitol need to stop NOW," he said. "The Constitution protects peaceful protest, but violence—from Left or Right— is ALWAYS wrong. And those engaged in violence are hurting the cause they say they support."

Fox News' Chad Pergram and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.

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