The storming of Congress - an eyewitness account of how a mob shocked a nation

Watch ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore's report from inside the US Capitol as protesters stormed the building

The protesters were exultant as they stormed the halls of Congress, intoxicated by the sense they were in the lion's den, fuelled by wild conspiracy theories.

After brief scuffles outside, Trump's supporters couldn't believe their luck as they discovered a side entrance had been left unguarded by Capitol Hill police officers.

We followed them in, as they charged up the grand marble steps, past Joe Biden's Inauguration platform, and into the People's House.

They leapt through broken windows and past a door that had been forced open.

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To us, it felt and sounded like an insurrection. Many in the crowd were stunned they had made it so far. We turned a corner and found protesters ransacking the office of Nancy Pelosi, tearing her wooden nameplate off the wall, stamping on it with contempt.

I asked one Trump loyalist as he charged down the corridor why he was storming Congress. "They stole this election from us," he shouted. "We want our freedom back. We want our country back. We are good people. They did this to us."

U.S. Capitol Police with guns drawn stand near a barricaded door as protesters try to break into the House Chamber. Credit: AP

The chanting was echoing around us: "This is our House! This is our House!"

For liberal America, this was a day of infamy. For those on the far-right, for those who truly believe this election was stolen, this was their finest hour, and a humiliation for the political establishment they despise.

The whiff of tear gas and the sound of mutinous fervour combined as protesters made it to the doors of the House chamber. On the other side, secret service agents had barricaded the doors with furniture and pulled out pistols to keep the mob at bay.

Around the whole Capitol Hill complex, senior lawmakers had been hastily evacuated and taken to safe rooms. Visitors were lying face down in the House gallery, terrified

For a tense hour, as we filmed for ITV's News at Ten, the situation seemed increasingly volatile. A shooting left one woman badly wounded.

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But slowly, police officers regained control, hustling protesters out. It meant that Congress could reconvene their joint session in the House and proceed with approving the certification of the presidential election.

Donald Trump inflammatory rhetoric and embrace of conspiracy theories led to this assault on Congress. Today he is more isolated than ever. Even his loyal allies are abandoning him. There is open talk about whether the 25th Amendment will be invoked by his Cabinet, removing him for the final thirteen days of his Presidency.

It was always possible that an unstable, wounded Trump would self-destruct in his last moments in the White House.

But few thought he would go out quite like this, accompanied by his supporters storming Congress, and with America fearing its glorious democratic experiment is in genuine peril.