Trump Blames Dems, Declares Martial Law
January 22, 2025
By James Thornton, Devon Sharp,
and Julie Montalbano
Flames engulfed the United States Capitol building at 1:20 PM Eastern Time, just two days after President Donald J. Trump’s second inauguration. House and Senate members, with numerous staffers and employees, as well as tourists, were seen fleeing. No deaths have yet been confirmed, but fire officials expect large casualty counts to emerge once the blaze is extinguished. As of day’s end, it had not been.
Those officials also stated they cannot yet identify the conflagration’s cause. The building’s destruction appears substantial if not total. Its iconic dome has collapsed.
President Trump released a video address at 2:35 PM, calling the fire “a vicious attempt to overthrow our democratical elected American government, by evil America-hating traitor socialist crime-loving pedophile Democrats, who will be shown no mercy.” He also said the Capitol was “treated very very unfairly,” and announced a declaration of nationwide martial law, though without citing any legal or constitutional basis for that.
Questions have been raised concerning a 17-minute gap between the first alarms and the start of fire-fighting operations. They seem also to have been impeded by the massive concrete barricades surrounding the building, installed in anticipation of the huge protests that did eventuate related to the presidential election procedures unfolding therein.
Democratic nominee Pete Buttigieg had won a popular vote margin over ten million and a 307–228 electoral vote victory. But the Republican-controlled House and Senate threw out enough electoral votes to deny him a majority, based on fraud claims which (like President Trump’s in 2020 and after) had been thoroughly debunked, with the only significant 2024 electoral chicanery evident on the Republican side.
Nevertheless, pursuant to the U.S. Constitution, the voided electoral vote left it to the House of Representatives to choose the president, with each state having one vote. Twenty-seven Republican-controlled state delegations then handed Trump the presidency. Infuriated protesters were kept out by the barricades and heavy military presence, with thousands arrested. “America is finished,” said one of those, Frank Robinson, 77, of Albany, NY, a retired state administrative law judge.
In a one-page ruling issued January 19, with three dissents, the Supreme Court refused to hear a legal challenge to Trump’s election.
Some historians saw in today’s Capitol fire an eerie echo of Berlin’s 1933 Reichstag fire, just weeks after Hitler came to power. The Reichstag was Germany’s parliament. Hitler blamed the fire on Communists and used it as a pretext to expel them all from parliament, giving Nazis a majority, and to unleash an iron boot. Most observers believe the Nazis likely set the fire themselves, for that very purpose. (Goering supposedly boasted of doing it.) Germany’s parliament was never restored during Hitler’s twelve-year rule.