NBC News' presidential historian Michael Beschloss characterized Wednesday's events on Capitol Hill as a "terrorist attack" in a Wednesday evening interview on CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith."
"We're in a situation where the definition of terrorism is the use of violence, especially against civilians, to achieve a political aim," Beschloss said. "That was a terrorist attack on our Congress today and our U.S. Capitol."
At the Save America rally Wednesday, President Donald Trump told thousands of supporters at the nation's capital that "we will never concede" and promoted a display of strength from his supporters.
"We're going walk down to the Capitol, and we're going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women," Trump said. "We're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong."
Trump addressed supporters shortly before Congress convened for a joint session to confirm the Electoral College vote won by President-elect Joe Biden. Beschloss told host Shepard Smith that the counting of ballots is typically "perfunctory" and "something we just assume is part of the peaceful transfer of power."
He explained that the president's inaction when a pro-Trump mob stormed the halls of Congress was motivated by his own self-serving ends that include avoiding financial demands and legal troubles.
"He's desperate to avoid being thrown out of office, which he will be in two weeks," Beschloss said. "He has a lot to benefit from staying in the presidency because he would have gotten a lot of immunity, so just for that he's willing to throw our democracy potentially over the side."