In Focus

US Capitol siege: how the world reported the Washington riot

International commentators point finger of blame at Donald Trump

The storming of the US Congress yesterday has made headlines worldwide, with many blaming the outgoing president for the violence on Capitol Hill.

The siege led to the temporary suspension of a joint session of lawmakers to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory, which was finalised this morning instead. But some commentators believe Donald Trump may end up paying a greater price, amid moves to remove the Republican leader from office before the end of his term on 20 January.

Several European papers argue that the riot in Washington D.C marks the breaking point in Trump’s often strained relationship with his party. France’s Le Monde says that “enough is enough”, adding: “After the invasion of the Capitol, Republicans close to Trump are turning their backs on him.”

German national newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung agrees that “for many Republicans, the moment seems to have come when they no longer want to defend Donald Trump”.

That anti-Trump sentiment is being echoed outside of the US. Covers from past issues of German magazine Der Spiegel that mock the president are being widely shared on Twitter

Meanwhile, Italian newspaper la Repubblica describes the events on Wednesday as America’s “coup day”.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that the riots have been cause for glee in China, where a “wave of mockery erupted”. Chinese commentators have been comparing the violence to last year’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and “accusing Washington of hypocrisy” for having condemned Beijing’s harsh response. 

Over in Russia, in a statement published by the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, the country’s Foreign Ministry said “the events in Washington show that the US electoral process is archaic, does not meet modern standards and is prone to violations”.

Iran’s Tehran Times notes that Trump had “been encouraging supporters to come to D.C. for weeks, prompting accusations that he is inciting extremist groups to possible violence”.

The Sydney Morning Herald argues that Americans are “democracy is a mindset and Americans are losing it”.

“Trump ultimately will be gone; the deep divisions and anti-democratic urges that allowed his rise will linger,” writes political editor Peter Hartcher. “The deepening bitterness, expressed in economic and race and cultural wars, is the acid eating away US democracy.”

The Financial Times describes the latest outburst of violence as a “nightmarish end” to Trump’s presidency, while Bloomberg says his reign in the White House will be remembered for having “careened toward its conclusion” with a “shocking display of lawlessness”.

As the US capital recovers from the riots, The Washington Post is unequivocal about where the blame lies, warning: “Trump is a menace, and as long as he remains in the White House, the country will be in danger.” 

Echoing calls for his cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and end his term in office now, the paper says: “He must be removed.”

The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal are equally damning of the president, claiming that yesterday’s violence was “Trump’s parting gift to Washington, and the country, for denying him a second term”.

 “Where was the police presence in Washington? It’s a scandal that the US Capitol wasn’t better protected on such a significant day,” the paper adds.

The front page of The New York Post, a Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid that formerly championed Trump, describes the riot as a Capitol “invasion”.

Inside, columnist Michael Goodwin says that the episode “marks a new day of infamy in American history”.

“It is a horrifying spectacle that makes us look like an ungovernable third world country to our friends and adversaries alike,” he writes.

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