WASHINGTON – Like the date of Dec. 7, the day in 1941 that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Jan. 6 – the day American citizens attacked their own Capitol – "will live forever in infamy."
That's the message that Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer brought to the floor of a damaged Capitol chamber Wednesday night in a speech where he blamed the day's rioting on President Trump.
"This will be a stain on our country not so easily washed away: the final, terrible, indelible legacy of the 45th president of the United States – undoubtedly, our worst," Schumer, a New York Democrat, said.
"This mob was in good part President Trump's doing, incited by his words, his lies, his violence. His responsibility. His everlasting shame," Schumer added.
Wednesday should have been a highlight of Schumer's career. The four-term senator from Brooklyn learned for nearly certain that he will soon become majority leader, as the media called two Senate runoffs in Georgia for the Democratic candidates.
And Schumer seemed positively buoyant at a morning news conference.
"It feels like a brand new day," he said. "For the first time in six years, Democrats will operate a majority in the United States Senate – and that will be very good for the American people."
Yet as he spoke, mobs moved from the National Mall and the White House to the Capitol. Within hours, they would break down the barricades and storm the building.
"Those who perform these reprehensible acts cannot be called protesters," Schumer said in his impassioned evening speech. "No. These were rioters and insurrectionists, goons and thugs, domestic terrorists. They do not represent America.
"They were a few thousand violent extremists who tried to take over the Capitol building and attack our democracy. They must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, hopefully by this administration, if not, certainly by the next. They should be provided no leniency."
Schumer lauded the Capitol Police for evacuating lawmakers, as well as his leadership colleagues of both parties who agreed to quickly return to the Capitol as a show of American democracy's strength.
But he had exceptionally harsh words for Trump.
"Today's events certainly would not have happened without him," Schumer said. "Now Jan. 6 will go down as one of the darkest days in recent American history: A final warning to our nation about the consequences of a demagogic president, the people who enabled him, the captive media that parrots his lies and the people who followed him as he attempts to push America to the brink of ruin."