An Alabama man seemed to be gearing up for mass destruction and murder at the Capitol Building on Wednesday ... at least based on what cops say they discovered in his truck.
Lonnie Coffman has been arrested and charged with possession of destructive devices and carrying an unlicensed gun ... but that doesn't tell the half of it.
According to legal docs -- obtained by TMZ -- Coffman approached cops and told them he was trying to get to his vehicle -- a red pickup -- the same suspicious vehicle they had received calls about.
Cops say he asked them if they found the bombs, and upon searching his truck ... they found 11 mason jars containing an unknown liquid with a golf tee in the top of each jar, cloth rags and lighters. AKA -- Molotov cocktails.
They also discovered one M4 Carbine assault rifle with rifle magazines loaded with ammunition ... and a black handgun on the front passenger seat. Cops say he also had 2 guns in his pockets when he was detained.
According to the docs ... while questioning him, he told them the mason jars contained "melted Styrofoam and gasoline." ATF officers say this mixture has the effect of napalm.
Coffman's been arrested, and cops say -- based on security footage -- he was seen leaving the vehicle parked near the Capitol building on Wednesday morning.
The South Carolina Senator was trying to fly out of Reagan National Airport in D.C. Friday morn when he encountered a pack of fervid Trumpers pissed off at him for publicly breaking with the Prez.
As Graham's being escorted by security, he's repeatedly called "traitor" by the angry Trump supporters ... with one woman chanting "Audit our vote!"
Graham continues to get hit with a barrage of insults until he makes it to an exit, and the mob makes it clear ... he's on their s*** list.
There's a big difference between these 2 Senators on Trump's enemy's list. Mitt broke with Trump long ago. Lindsay's break is 2 days old, so he's kind of a man without a country because now both sides are pissed off at him.
12:18 PM PT -- Biden just addressed Trump's announcement about his plans to not show up to the Inauguration and the President-Elect's totally cool with it. In fact ... Biden says Trump's decision is "one of the few things him and I have ever agreed on."
BTW, as far as VP Mike Pence goes, Biden says the Veep's invited to the Inauguration. Pence had reportedly said he would attend the Inauguration, provided Biden extended an invitation. Boom, invitation granted.
It's the first time since Andrew Johnson an outgoing U.S. President will not be attending the inauguration of the President-elect. Trump tweeted, "To all those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration."
Of course, there's still a slim chance he won't even be POTUS by that time, as some members of Congress met after the Capitol riots about invoking the 25th amendment to remove him from office ... and there are impeachment talks again too.
This after Trump was accused of inciting the storming of the Capitol, and his initial failure to condemn the rioters ... instead choosing to say he loved the insurrectionists and calling them special.
If Trump sticks with his plan ... he'll join John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Johnson as the only presidents to refuse to accompany the incoming Prez.
Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend Biden's inauguration.
Originally Published -- 8:27 AM PT
CNN's Bakari Sellers says America needs to look in the mirror after rioters waving Confederate flags ran through the halls of Congress because it says a lot about our country.
Bakari joined us on "TMZ Live" Friday and discussed one of the lasting images from Wednesday's attempted coup ... insurrectionists storming the Capitol waving Confederate flags and Trump flags.
It's a sight we haven't seen in 200 years -- a foreign flag paraded inside the Capitol -- and Bakari suggests the size of the mob that pulled it off proves this IS America ... or at least a painfully large part of it.
While President-elect Joe Biden says the chaos at the Capitol "does not represent who we are," Bakari thinks Biden and the rest of America have to admit it is so the country can move forward and find a way to coexist.
Bakari says the attempted coup will be the capstone of Donald Trump's legacy ... and he tells us why he thinks Trump and his most fervent supporters won't go away anytime soon.
"Elizabeth from Knoxville" -- the woman who said she got maced storming the Capitol -- is being accused of using an onion to make it look like she was crying, but there could be a deeper, more ominous reason for the bulb -- that she and others were banking on violence at the Capitol.
Onions are an antidote to tear gas. They can relieve the burning sensation from the gas. It's been reported for several years that onions can be used for this purpose. So the question ... why was this woman armed with an onion?
As we reported ... the woman was interviewed as rioters were making their way into the Capitol Building, and claimed she got pushed out and maced. While crying and talking about a "revolution," she repeatedly kept dabbing her eyes with a towel.
The looming question is whether the invasion of the Capitol was premeditated or not. Did the rioters plan the attack or did it just happen? It's interesting ... if this were just a peaceful protest, why carry an onion?
There is other evidence the plan may have been to invade the Capitol. As we reported, one of the insurrectionists had zip ties ... and given the building was filled with members of Congress, it sure feels like someone might have been thinking in advance of taking hostages.
If there's proof the invasion was premeditated rather than spontaneous, it could absolutely up the criminal charges the domestic terrorists are facing.
Race is a big factor in the way cops handled Wednesday's coup, especially when juxtaposed against the way law enforcement dealt with the BLM protests after George Floyd's death .. so says, Sheriff Chris Swanson.
Sheriff Swanson, who famously put down his baton and helmet to join BLM protesters in solidarity this summer in Michigan's Flint Township, joins us on "TMZ Live" Friday to give his perspective on the Capitol riots from the eyes of law enforcement.
Sherriff Swanson says the way Capitol Police lines were breached so easily is evidence of personal biases among officers ... and he says if that happened on his watch, he would be handing out pink slips left and right, with an eye toward criminal prosecution.
He also thinks police should be better prepared for protests, and not by loading up on riot gear ... he says it's not about responding to chaos, but getting to know the community. Remember, he did this back in Michigan and was widely praised for it.
While Wednesday's optics were gut-wrenching and frightening ... Sheriff Swanson's got some ideas on how to restore calmness to a weary nation.
3:55 PM PT -- It was just announced that U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund will resign, effective January 16.
The U.S. Capitol Police Dept. may have been able to thwart Wednesday's attempted coup if it had all hands on deck, but we've learned they had less than ONE-QUARTER of the force working ... despite multiple, clear warnings the protest could turn violent.
Capitol Police sources tell TMZ ... 500 officers were working Wednesday as President Trump revved up the huge crowd of his supporters upset over the election results -- giving them their marching orders with the Capitol as the final destination. Trump has been dog-whistling for weeks now, promising something big would happen on January 6.
With that backdrop, the Capitol Police are 2,200 strong, yet only 500 were on duty. The way it works in most police departments around the country ... when there's the possibility of social unrest it's all hands on deck. That did not happen here.
Our source says the police believed they had enough staff to contain any unrest ... by setting up barricades and locking up the 3 House office buildings -- the Cannon, Longworth and Rayburn Buildings. The sad fact ... they were grossly understaffed.
Even worse, we're told when the cops on duty were instructed to start deploying tear gas to clear the rioters ... they were not given masks or proper protective equipment. This resulted in many officers becoming debilitated themselves ... meaning even fewer police were at the ready to contain the insurrection.
We're told when it became obvious things were completely out of control, several Capitol Police officers who work the night crew made their way to the Hill to help out ... but by then, according to one Capitol Police source, it already felt like "Olympus Has Fallen."
Rep. Karen Bass of California -- who was in the Capitol Building at the time of the invasion -- is shocked and appalled at the security breach ... and not necessarily buying Capitol Police excuses.
She suggests -- like many others -- the insurrection was made possible by the lax treatment of Trump's supporters, and she believes if a similar situation arose with BLM protesters ... they would have dealt with it in a vastly different, more violent way.
White House Correspondent for TheGrio April Ryan has a slightly different take, but it still doesn't reflect kindly on the Capitol Police. She tells us they acted like keystone cops during the failed coup attempt, but feels it's par for the course.
She says the grotesque images will be long remembered around the country and the world, and there needs to be a drastic revamp of the Capitol Police Dept. to protect the building and its occupants from terrorists ... both domestic and foreign.
We were even told cops were not allowed to take time off from January 5-7 and a plan was being implemented to have a heavy police presence in the area -- both uniformed and in street clothes. It makes it even more puzzling why the full complement of cops wasn't there.
On the bright side -- the FBI is on the hunt for the rioters ... as Rep. Bass says they should be.
Originally Published -- 12:53 PM PT
Rep. Karen Bass is outraged and saddened about the ordeal she and all of Congress endured -- and can't help thinking the Capitol attack would've been thwarted if rioters weren't Trump supporters.
The Congresswoman from California's 37th district joined "TMZ Live" Thursday to recount the terror of the moment lawmakers had to be evacuated ... a shocking event she calls ironic ... in a couple of ways.
First of all, Bass says she anticipated things getting dicey on the streets of D.C. ... but she told her family she'd be safe and sound inside the typically heavily guarded Capitol.
Secondly, she believes the protesters-turned-rioters were almost enabled by the authorities to do what they did. Rep. KB says it stands in stark contrast to what happened during last summer's Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
Her implication is pretty clear, and it all comes back to President Trump ... who still has 13 days left in office. If you think Bass isn't concerned about that even though the riots are over ... think again.
As she points out ... it's not just his actions yesterday that are troubling, but his behavior on social media over the course of his presidency and his plethora of recent lamed duck hirings and firings
So, no, Bass doesn't think we are out of the woods yet ... which is why some members of Congress are looking to invoke the 25th Amendment or impeach Trump (again).
April Ryan says members of Congress want President Trump gone before Inauguration Day ... and, as of now, their best path to getting it done looks like the 25th Amendment.
The veteran White House Correspondent for TheGrio joined us Thursday on "TMZ Live" and told us what she's hearing from folks on both sides of the aisle -- the attempted coup was the last straw, and the only issue now is how they'll oust Trump.
April says the 25th Amendment is very much in play ... which is pretty eye-opening considering invoking it is a tough sell. Remember, Mike Pence and either a majority of Trump's Cabinet OR two-thirds of both the Senate and the House have to be on board.
April ran down the list of lawmakers coming out against the President ... and really painted a picture of how the dynamics in D.C. are drastically changing.
April also told us what Congressional leaders were thinking and feeling as they were being whisked off to an undisclosed location Wednesday with the Capitol under siege ... and she tells us why some of the most powerful people in the country were very much afraid.
The clock's ticking, there are only 13 days until Inauguration Day ... and April says Republicans and Democrats are rushing to figure out how best to stand up to Trump and tell him it's time to go.
Jason Allen Alexander -- whom you might remember for being married to Britney for 55 hours after their wild, 2004 Sin City wedding -- trekked to D.C. for Wednesday's show of support for President Trump, which turned into an attempted coup.
Jason looked proud to be there ... snapping selfies in his Trump 45 beanie.
What's unclear ... if Jason actually was part of the riotous mob that breached the Capitol. If he was, it's likely the feds are going after him.
Seems Jason's big on attending demonstrations ... when we last saw him back in August, he had joined the #FreeBritney movement ... hanging out in the crowd gathered outside the L.A. courthouse where a hearing was taking place on her conservatorship.
We were unable to reach Jason for comment.
Zuck announced Thursday he's extending Trump's Facebook and Instagram ban at least two more weeks until the inauguration on Jan. 20 ... saying it's too risky to let the President post whatever crops up in his dome.
Zuckerberg says FB and IG didn't have a problem with Trump posting whatever he wanted over the last 4 years, other than occasionally removing content or slapping warning labels on Trump posts, but the attempted coup changed the game forever.
Zuck's change of heart goes like this ... he says, "the shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden."
Remember ... Trump's also suspended from Twitter after his tweet storm during Wednesday's chaos at the Capitol.
So, now Trump needs a plan B to get his message out. He hates TV and online news, he can't go on social media ... so the walls are closing in on him.
That said, he has 13 days left. In case you haven't heard, there's something else that lasted 13 days ... the Cuban missile crisis, where we narrowly averted nuclear war.
The storming of the U.S. Capitol is especially infuriating to some local Washington D.C. residents -- 2 of whom gave the pro-Trump rioters a major piece of their minds.
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A man standing out by his front door Wednesday in a neighborhood near the action shouted ... "Get the f*** outta town! F***ing treasonous pieces of s***!"
At some point during his rant, another local pulled up in her car, and joined in with full-throated support ... saying the rioters were destroying their city.
Their lively back-and-forth also got into what a lot of people believe -- if the rioters were part of the Black Lives Matter movement, President Trump would have sent tanks to stop them. Watch the video, because his language gets really colorful ... and she actually gets teary-eyed.
As we reported ... the FBI is on the hunt for the hundreds -- if not thousands -- of insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol and incited violence Wednesday after President Trump addressed them and vowed to never concede the election.
Pretty sure, these 2 residents would gladly ID any of the suspects.
7:30 AM PT -- A rep for Twitter tells us Trump has officially deleted his tweets ... so the 12-hour suspension is now in effect.
5:38 PM PT -- Facebook is following Twitter's lead ... the social media giant is reportedly blocking Trump from posting for the next 24 hours, also for policy violations.
Twitter has had enough of President Trump's tweets following the storming of The Capitol by his supporters, suspending his account, for violations of the platform's Civic Integrity policy.
Trump fired off a series of tweets and posted a video of himself Wednesday, one tweet read, "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!"
Twitter deleted the tweet along with several others shortly after Trump's message. The social media giant then announced Trump's account was suspended for at least 12 hours for repeated and severe violations of the company's Civic Integrity policy.
Twitter says Trump must permanently remove the deleted tweets -- and he will then start a 12-hour suspension -- if he does not remove them, his account will remain locked.
Then there's this ... Twitter says if Trump violates the rules again, it will lead to a permanent suspension of his account.
Originally Published 4:36 PM PT
The chaos President Trump helped incite in Washington, D.C. is continuing into the night, and now it's on his metaphorical doorstep -- a man's been stabbed outside his hotel.
D.C. Police are swarming around the street in front of the Trump International Hotel to investigate the stabbing.
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Cops say an adult male is a victim, and he's been transported to a hospital for treatment. Police do not have a suspect in custody at the moment, and, to be honest, law enforcement already had its hands full.
The Mayor of D.C. declared a 6 PM curfew in the city, and with the help of more than 1,000 National Guard troops ... officers are clearing protesters from the Capitol and surrounding streets.
Trump's hotel is about a mile away from the Capitol, where earlier on Wednesday he told they already amped up the crowd ... "You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong."
We all know what happened next, including the fatal shooting of one woman inside the Capitol.
Story developing ...
4:27 PM PT -- Coaches and players throughout the NBA are sounding off on Wednesday's incidents in D.C. ... including Isaiah Thomas, who says law enforcement would have handled the situation much differently had it been a Black Lives Matter protest.
"Our heads woulda been blown off already," IT said. "This is crazy."
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers had a similar reaction ... saying, "Can you imagine today, if those were all black people storming the Capitol, and what would have happened?"
"That, to me, is a picture that’s worth a thousand words for all of us to see.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens spoke about the Trump ... calling Wednesday's protests a "disgraceful ending" to his presidency.
"I think we all hope that the people we elect to lead us, are supposed to be modeling leadership, will do so in a way that in a way that is motivated by serving others by showing compassion, by acting gracefully," he said.
"And instead, we elected a president, who luckily is on his way out, and others, that have not showed that kind of grace.
NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe says the violent scene at the nation's capital reminds him of a 3rd world country, not America ... and believes today's events could have a permanent effect on the nation.
"Where are the police?" Sharpe said on Twitter, Wednesday.
"Do we think an all black protest group could’ve stormed the Capitol and not 1 shot fired, no tear gas. Peaceful protestors got pepper sprayed so Trump could hold a Bible upside for a photo in front of church. Yet, I’m told everyone is treated equally in Flag of United States"
Of course, a large group of pro-Trump supporters flooded the U.S. Capitol building -- breaking down multiple barriers and fences -- and making their way to the Congressional Chamber.
Sharpe -- who has been very outspoken about the president in the past -- accused Donald Trump of trying to illegally seize power using violence.
"Pres Trump and his minions are trying a coup attempt. This is sedition. President Trump and a certain numbers of Republican Senators, Representatives have been heading dwn this path for 4 yrs and here we are. I need Black Lives Matter energy from law enforcement"
Sharpe believes there is hypocrisy in the handling of the protests ... claiming if the group was Black, law enforcement would be using stronger tactics.
"Where are the police? Do we think an all black protest group could’ve stormed the Capitol and not 1 shot fired, no tear gas. Peaceful protestors got pepper sprayed so Trump could hold a Bible upside for a photo in front of church. Yet, I’m told everyone is treated equally in Flag of United States"
Black people get pulled over and don’t make it out alive. We can’t sleep in our own beds without being killed. We can’t jog without being killed. We can’t walk down the street with our hoodies up without being killed but they can do this??? https://t.co/j59OMKw4LO— DWade (@DwyaneWade) January 6, 2021 @DwyaneWade
NFL star Dez Bryant also shared a message about the incident.
"I'm just wondering where the tasers and tear gas like they do black people when they are peacefully protesting? Just a thought not that I promote violence and chaos but black people could never come out of that alive"
"I'm hoping real changes can happen for the future of this country 'cause it's an ugly mess right now."
As for Trump, he just released a video asking his supporters to act peacefully, and to leave the Capitol.
Story developing ...
Originally Published -- 1:23 PM PT
Kellyanne Conway should accept some responsibility for the violence in the Capitol ... at least according to her daughter, who's trolling her over the attempted coup and the Senate runoff in Georgia.
16-year-old Claudia Conway went to her favorite platform -- TikTok -- to air some family grievances Wednesday ... but really, it was about spiking the football on her mom and the Republican Party.
Claudia asked her mom how she feels about President Trump's "army" resorting to rioting. Claudia compares the coup to last summer's protests, which she says her mom didn't want her to join.
She also took a swipe at Kellyanne for campaigning in Georgia for Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who ended up losing. Claudia's far from the high road here, as she hit her mom with a Mitch McConnell joke. Too soon???
The Conway household is a pretty interesting dynamic ... Claudia says she can't find her mom in the house, so she's using TikTok as a conversation starter.
As you know, Claudia's beefed with her mom on social media before ... including this infamous exchange about COVID.
So much for Kellyanne's home-court advantage.