This article titled “Trump promises ‘orderly transition’ but continues election lies after Congress certifies Biden as US president – live” was written by Tom McCarthy in New York (now); Vivian Ho in San Francisco and Joan E Greve in Washington (earlier), for theguardian.com on Thursday 7th January 2021 10.50 UTC
Politico has published a riveting group account, from reporters on the scene, of events inside the Capitol as it was invaded on Wednesday. Here’s an excerpt:
Olivia Beavers: They’re getting evacuated. This is really escalating.
Melanie Zanona: And then a police officer is like, “OK, everyone, follow me.” The way the balconies are set up, it’s like they’re sectioned off. So we have to climb over these gold railings.
Olivia Beavers: As I’m climbing over one railing, this police officer yelled at us to take cover and duck.
Olivia Beavers: There was a moment when a reporter asked me: “Do you think we should take off our press badges?” I said, No.
Read the full piece here.
The extraordinary and violent scenes that consumed the US Capitol building on Wednesday have dominated news coverage across the world.
The Guardian carries a scene from the Capitol’s rotunda, filled with a pro-Trump mob waving the flag of their leader: “Chaos as pro-Trump mob storms US Capitol”. Prominence is given to a quote from the US president-elect, Joe Biden, who said: “Our democracy’s under assault, unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times.”
The House will not reconvene on Monday after all, the Democratic leadership announces, according to Fox News’ Chad Pergram.
Back in two weeks:
The UK home secretary, Priti Patel, said Donald Trump’s incendiary remarks directly provoked the violence witnessed in the US Capitol as she urged him to condemn it.
“His comments directly led to the violence and so far he has failed to condemn that violence – and that is completely wrong,” she said.
She said the departing president’s statement, in which he said “we love you” to the rioters, and repeated his unproven claims of electoral fraud did “very little to de-escalate the situation”.
“He basically has made a number of comments yesterday that helped to fuel that violence and he didn’t do anything to de-escalate that whatsoever,” she told BBC Breakfast.
Read the full piece:
An Israeli journalist reporting outside the US Capitol on Wednesday had to face a torrent of antisemitic abuse from a pro-Trump supporter live on air.
The reporter for Channel 13 television news was confronted by a man in a helmet and asked inaudible questions that appeared to be requests to explain his government’s actions, a video of the event showed.
“I’m not representing the Israeli government,” the reporter replied.
“You lying Israeli, you play the pilpul game,” the man said. “Pilpul” is a word used to refer to the process of analysing Jewish religious texts, and has been racistly misappropriated to mean lying.
The protester then went on to demand the reporter tell him what a “goy” was. A “goy” is a word for a non-Jew.
The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli newspaper, said the protester had also called the reporter a deeply offensive term for a Jewish person.
The US-based Anti-Defamation League said the incident was “absolutely despicable”.
Congress certifies Biden and Harris win hours after deadly attack on Capitol – video
The Washington Post editorial board joined Democratic voices overnight in calling for the removal of Trump through the 25th amendment before Inauguration Day. From their piece:
The president is unfit to remain in office for the next 14 days. Every second he retains the vast powers of the presidency is a threat to public order and national security. Vice President Pence, who had to be whisked off the Senate floor for his own protection, should immediately gather the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, declaring that Mr. Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Congress, which would be required to ratify the action if Mr. Trump resisted, should do so. Mr. Pence should serve until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
While removal of Trump through the 25th amendment is extremely unlikely in the less-than-two-weeks before the election, discussion of such a move has surfaced repeatedly during Trump’s term. Here’s a video explainer from 2018 about how it could work:
At a daily press briefing in Beijing this afternoon, China’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said – inaccurately – that the Chinese people have the right and freedom to express their views and comments on the Internet.
“Many people are thinking about this: (this is) a scene of deja vu, but the response of some people in the United States, including some media, is quite different. In July 2019, radical protestors violently attacked the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong… and surrounded the police with toxic powder and liquid, even bit off the police’s fingers and stabbed the police with knives. However, the Hong Kong police maintained a high degree of restraint and professionalism, and none of them died. But while the degree of violence and destruction in Washington is not as serious as what happened in Hong Kong, four people have died…”
Hua’s comments came after the Global Times quoted unnamed netizens gleefully revelling in the scenes, reportedly describing it as “karma”, “revenge”, and “deserved”.
“It was like watching a thrilling action movie!” they quoted one saying.
Across editorials and social media posts, the hawkish tabloid repeatedly drew crude comparisons between the footage of Capitol Hill and footage from the Hong Kong protests, ignoring the diametrically opposed motivations behind the two groups.
The German chancellor was made furious and sad by the scene last night at the US Capitol, a German broadcaster reports:
Trump: ‘there will be an orderly transition on 20 January’
Trump’s social media aide Dan Scavino has tweeted a “Statement by President Donald J. Trump on the Electoral Certification”:
Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out*, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”
*The facts do not bear Trump out.
The House adjourns until Monday.
Biden and Harris will be inaugurated at noon on Wednesday, 20 January. Less than two weeks.
“The chair declares the joint session resolved,” Pence says.
He drops a gavel and mingling commences.
We don’t know what Trump makes of this because he’s suspended on Twitter.
Congress certifies Biden win
The teller, senator Amy Klobuchar, reports: “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the president and the vice president according to the ballots that have been given to us.”
Applause in the room.
Pence says Biden “has received 306 votes” and Trump “has received 232 votes.”
“The announcement of the state of the vote by the president of the senate shall be deemed as sufficient of the election of the president and the vice-president,” Pence says.
It’s done. Closing prayer.
Wyoming’s three votes for Trump stand. That’s it. Biden wins 306-232. We knew this months ago.
“The tellers will ascertain and deliver the result to the president of the senate,” Pence says.
No senator joins Wisconsin objection, which is rejected
West Virginia received no objection.
Here’s Wisconsin which gave its 10 electoral votes to Biden.
Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas rises to object to the Wisconsin certification. He spools off a string of conspiracy theories about election irregularities.
“We object along with a senator who now has withdrawn his objection,” Gohmert says.
The Wisconsin objection is not supported by a senator. It stands for Biden.
“The objection cannot be entertained,” Pence says.
Republicans have decided not to fight over Vermont’s three electoral votes going to Biden. Nor do they object to Virginia’s 13 votes going to Biden. Nor do they object to Washington’s 12 electoral votes going to Biden.
Texas comes after Tennessee in the alphabetical list of states. Trump’s victory there is announced by senator Amy Klobuchar. Pence invites objections. None is heard. Texas’ 38 electoral votes go to Trump.
Utah’s six votes go to Trump too. No objections there.
No objection to Rhode Island.
We’re on to South Carolina. No objections there. Now South Dakota. Another state won by Trump – no objections there.
Wisconsin is the penultimate state alphabetically, with Wyoming coming last.
Here’s Tennessee. No objections to the certification of Trump’s victory in Tennessee.
Biden in this count has already amassed more than half the electoral college votes, so in that sense the goose is cooked.
Pence accepts Pennsylvania vote
Pence is back on the dais. He asks for the secretary of the senate to report the results in the Pennsylvania vote. That vote is reported: 7 ayes, 92 nays. Then Pence calls on the House clerk. The clerk does not give the vote tally, merely noting that the objection was defeated.
“The original certificates as submitted will be counted” from Pennsylvania, Pence says.
And just like that we’re on to Rhode Island.
The senators are coming back. We’re about to resume.
Speaker Pelosi and other members are now standing in the House chamber chatting, waiting apparently for the senators to return so the joint session can resume.
Twelve states remain plus Washington DC. Among them Wisconsin seems the most likely to be objected to, but it does not appear that a senator has signed onto an objection to results from that state.
So we might breeze along from here.
Here’s a summary of where things stand:
- The process of the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory resumed after a pro-Trump mob invaded the US Capitol Wednesday evening.
- The confirmation process proceeded through the night roughly as expected, with the confirmation of Biden’s presidential victory approaching.
- Objections to the results in two states, Arizona and Pennsylvania, failed after debate, while attempted objections by Republicans to other states’ results failed to clear the threshold permitting debate.
- Four people died in the unrest at the Capitol, including a woman who was shot by police when a mob tried to break through a barricaded door and three others who suffered “medical emergencies”, according to police.
- At least 52 people were reportedly arrested.
- Trump released a video statement after the sacking of the Capitol telling mob members “we love you” but asking them to go home. Security forces regained control of the Capitol late Wednesday evening.
- Agitation in the capital over the evening’s events saw a deputy on Trump’s national security team resign and vice-president Mike Pence’s chief of staff declining to comment on reports of his resignation.
- Trump was in open war on social media with both Pence and senate majority leader Mitch McConnell – until both Twitter and Facebook temporarily suspended his accounts.
House votes down challenge to Pennsylvania result
Congress has just taken another major step toward certification as the objection to the Pennsylvania result fails on the House floor.
The final tally was 282-138 – a closer vote than the 303-122 vote on the Arizona objection.
The senate earlier rejected the Pennsylvania objection. The joint session is expected to reconvene shortly to complete the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
More than half of the members of the House have voted against the objection to the Pennsylvania result, meaning it has failed.
Still waiting for the final tally. The Arizona challenge failed 303-122.
Here are further details from the room of the off-camera (near) fisticuffs.
House taking vote on objection to Pennsylvania result
Time for debate on the Pennsylvania objection has expired. Pelosi takes a voice vote on the objection. The Nos have it – endorsing the certification of the Pennsylvania result. The Senate rejected the same objection immediately, 92-7.
A roll call vote in the House is requested. That vote is now proceeding. The joint session is expected to reconvene shortly.
Representative Adam Schiff of California, who led the impeachment inquiry, is speaking to oppose the objection to the Pennsylvania certification.
“The members of this body cannot continue to challenge the merits of an election that was fairly conducted and overwhelmingly won by Joe Biden,” Schiff says. “Look at the damage that was wrought… is that not enough?”
As “debate” in the House continues, we want to break away momentarily to note that prolific butt-dialer Rudy Giuliani yesterday evening committed another cell-phone slip-up, leaving a voice message apparently meant for freshman Republican Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville on someone else’s phone. The message has been published.
In the message, Giuliani encourages “Tuberville” to object to “every state” in order to prolong the current process. As demonstrated in the failed effort to object to the Michigan result, no objection in this process stands if it is not joined by a senator in writing.
Tuberville joined objections to both the Arizona and Pennsylvania results but not others. He must not have … gotten the message.
There are a lot of members of Congress from Texas, and they all seem to be in line to object to the election result in Pennsylvania. Representative Roger Williams, a five-termer, is the latest.
He wants to clarify something. “I’m not ashamed and neither are my colleagues over here,” he says. “We’re actually proud of what we’re doing and standing for.”
Fisticuffs? The video feed of the chamber was showing the dais so this skirmish was not visible on TV. HuffPost’s Matt Fuller:
Speaker Pelosi handles a point of order from the Republican side. They’re trying to shout down Lamb, complaining he accused them in an unparliamentary way of lying. Pelosi gavels the Republicans, who keep yelling. Pelosi kicks the Republican representative out.
Lamb finishes. “Who’s next?” Pelosi says, sounding just the slightest bit impatient.
Lamb: ‘A woman died out there tonight, and you’re making these objections’
Now Conor Lamb, the moderate Democrat from Pennsylvania, is up. He supplies some basic information about election operations in Pennsylvania.
I want to point out… that it was the Republican state legislature that passed a Republican bill that set up the system [used in the election] … and that the reason the president lost is that he was not as popular as other Republicans in the state. He got fewer votes than all of them …
These objections don’t deserve an ounce of respect. A woman died out there tonight, and you’re making these objections …
Enough has been done today already to try to strip this Congress of its dignity and we don’t need to do any more.
Representative Kat Cammack, a freshwoman Republican from Florida, thanks law enforcement for preserving order … and then objects to the Pennsylvania election result.
She quotes from the constitution and reminds everyone that they have sworn an oath to defend it. “Our children our counting on us,” she says, to investigate election irregularities. That’s been done already, in dozens of state and local challenges and federal and state court cases across the country in the past two-plus months. You’re welcome, children.
Texas’s Jodey Arrington follows Cammack. He takes no pride in his objection, he explains, which is not based on any loyalty to the president but rather to the constitution.
A message has just been carried from the Senate to the House.
The message is read on the House floor:
“I have been directed by the Senate to inform the House that the Senate is ready to resume the joint session.”
Duly noted. Debate in the House resumes.
We’ve just had a couple speeches from House Republicans opposing certification of the Pennsylvania vote. Representative Brian Babin of Texas, a four-termer, accused Democrats of upsetting the rule of law by moving to certify the result.
“I have no doubt there was widespread election fraud this past November,” Babin said, despite the failure of any such evidence to emerge in more than 100 lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign after the election.
Representative Ted Budd of North Carolina then stands to accuse Pennsylvania of admitting “thousands of unverifiable ballots”. That’s not true but on those false grounds, Budd says, he’s objecting.
On the House floor, representatives are taking turn delivering short speeches about the objection to the Pennsylvania election result. Most of the speeches, including on the Republican side, oppose the objection and favor certifying the result. Debate is scheduled to last for a maximum of two hours. We’re about an hour in. Here’s a live video stream:
The US Capitol police have advised that the “internal security threat incident” has been “cleared”, Fox News’ Chad Pergram reports. A notification has been issued to “return to normal operations”.
The joint session of Congress is ongoing in the House chamber, part of the larger Capitol complex.
What we know so far
- Debate on the objection to the Pennsylvania electoral votes continues in the House of Representatives. Once that concludes, the joint session resumes to continue the certification of the votes of the electoral college.
- Four people died amid unrest after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol today, including a woman who was shot by police when a mob tried to break through a barricaded door and three others who suffered “medical emergencies”, according to police. Despite widespread vandalism and looting, only 52 people were arrested.
- Congress certified the electoral votes of dozens of states, despite a number of objections, some entertained and some not.
- House Democrats are calling on Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment and remove Donald Trump from office.
There have been reports all day that Donald Trump barred Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice-President Mike Pence, from the White House, following Pence’s refusal to overturn the results of the election.
Just now, it appears that Marc Short has declined to comment on the reports.
Senate rejects challenge to Pennsylvania election results
The Senate has voted on whether to sustain an objection to Pennsylvania’s election results: nays are 92, yeas are 7.
Meanwhile in the House of Representatives, debate is still going strong.
In the Senate, there was no interest in using up the full two hours of debate for the objection to the Pennsylvania electoral results.
Just to recap: what’s about to happen with the objection to the Pennsylvania electoral votes is expected to be a lot like what happened with the objection to the Arizona electoral votes.
The House and the Senate will go into their separate chambers and debate the objection. They have up to two hours of debate but there is some speculation that there might be a vote to limit the debate because it is past midnight in Washington and it’s been a very, very long day for everyone.
Then the Senate and the House will vote on whether the objection should be sustained. It will most likely fail. The Senate and the House will reconvene for a joint session to certify the results.
The objection to the Pennsylvania electoral votes comes signed by a senator and representatives.
We now retire for two hours of debate in both chambers.
It is 12:17am on 7 January in Washington DC.
An objection to the electoral votes of Nevada. Once again, no senator has joined the effort so “the objection cannot be entertained.” Massive applause throughout the chamber.
The objection to the electoral results in Michigan also cannot be entertained.
Objection to Georgia election results withdrawn
The objection to the Georgia election results, on the (baseless) grounds of fraud could not be “entertained”, according to Vice-President Mike Pence.
“It appears some senators have withdrawn their objection,” Representative Jody Hice, a Republican from Georgia, said. Senator Kelly Loeffler, who lost her bid for reelection yesterday to Raphael Warnock, announced she was withdrawing her objection earlier.
As Congress continues to certify the electoral votes, let’s look at the damages done to the Capitol today:
Joint session of Congress back in session. Arkansas, which voted for Donald Trump and Mike Pence, and California, which voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, fly through with no objections.
Four dead after police shooting and ‘medical emergencies’ at Capitol
Four people died as supporters of President Donald Trump violently occupied the Capitol, the Associated Press is reporting.
Washington DC Police Chief Robert Contee said the dead on Wednesday included a woman who was shot by the US Capitol Police as a mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol, as well as three others who died in “medical emergencies”.
Both law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants, police said.
House rejects challenge to Arizona election results
Just like the Senate, the House of Representatives voted after two hours debate and rejected the call to sustain the objection to the Arizona election results in favor of Joe Biden.
House Dems call for Pence to invoke 25th amendment
Meanwhile, as Congress looks toward 20 January and certifying the electoral college votes, others are concerned about the next 14 days.
The Democrats of the House Judiciary Committee are calling for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment and remove Donald Trump from office.
“We have seen the fruit of the President’s remarks in the violence and chaos unleashed today,” they wrote to Pence. “Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution provides the Vice President and a majority of sitting Cabinet secretaries with the authority to determine a president as unfit if he ‘is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’ Even in his video announcement this afternoon, President Trump revealed that he is not mentally sound and is still unable to process and accept the results of the 2020 election. President Trump’s willingness to incite violence and social unrest to overturn the election results by force clearly meet this standard.”
USA Today has a great run-down on the 25th amendment, which was ratified in 1967 following concerns after John F Kennedy’s assassination. In simple terms, it’s the process in which the vice president becomes president should the president be unable to do his or her job.
The fourth section of the amendment – the process for removing a president when others believe he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” – has never been used in the amendment’s short history.
In order for that section to be triggered, the vice president and a majority of the cabinet must declare the president unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. If the president disputes that, two-thirds of both the House and the Senate must vote for the vice president to take office.
Had lawmakers had more than 14 days, they could also come up with legislation an alternative group that the vice president could work with to declare a president is unable to serve.
Previously, Gerald Ford invoked the amendment’s first two sections when he became Richard Nixon’s vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned and when he became president after Nixon resigned.
The amendment’s third section, which allows a president to temporarily cede power and duties to a vice president, was used after Ronald Reagan underwent surgery in 1985 and when George W Bush was under anesthesia in 2002 and 2007.
They’re calling the vote now in the House of Representatives. Nays have it, but now they’re doing a roll call.
The House of Representatives did not reconvene until about an hour after the Senate reconvened to debate the objection to the Arizona electoral votes.
As it’s two hours of debate in each chamber, we can’t move on until the House concludes its vote – and then the House and the Senate can come back together for a joint session to continue the vote certification of electors, state by state, in alphabetical order.
Florida Representative Matt Gaetz is now on the floor blaming antifa for the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol. Reminder that there is absolutely no proof whatsoever of any “antifa involvement” and all evidence points to anti-antifa involvement.
Senate rejects challenge to Arizona election results
After two hours of debate, the Senate has voted and the vast majority voted against the call to sustain the objection to the Arizona election results in favor of Joe Biden.
Six senators voted in favor of the objection.
The Senate is now voting on whether to throw out the results from Arizona. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has led the charge in objecting to the certification of the electoral college vote, was a clear vote in favor of throwing out the results.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham just had a field day with his remarks, saying that “the mob has done something nobody else could do, get me and [Senator Rand Paul] to agree”.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and the vice-president of the United States on January the 20th,” he said.
The woman shot and killed inside the Capitol has been identified by San Diego-based news station KUSI as Ashli Babbit, a 14-year military veteran and Trump supporter.
The Guardian has not independently confirmed her identity.
Romney calls Capitol violence ‘an insurrection’
“What happened today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States,” said the Utah senator Mitt Romney.
Romney had strong words for both today’s violence and for everyone who votes to object, who he said “will be remembered for their role in this shameful episode. That will be their legacy.”
Facebook and Instagram lock Trump’s accounts
Facebook and Instagram have joined Twitter in locking the social media accounts of Donald Trump following today’s violence at the Capitol.
Trump’s former defense secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned over the president’s Syria policies, issued a statement blaming the president for the violence at the Capitol.
Mattis said Trump has used the presidency “to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens”.
“Our Constitution and our Republic will overcome this stain and We the People will come together again in our never-ending effort to form a more perfect Union, while Mr Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country,” Mattis said.
While the electoral vote certification continues on the Senate floor, there appear to be a number of resignations happening at the White House in the wake of the Capitol riot:
Obama: history will rightly remember today’s violence as a moment of shame
Former president Barack Obama has issued a statement on today’s events, calling the storming of the Capitol “a moment of great dishonor and shame for the nation”.
Read his full remarks below:
The Georgia senator Kelly Loeffler, who lost her re-election bid yesterday to Raphael Warnock, has announced that she will no longer be objecting to the Georgia election results, following the violence today. “I pray that America never suffers another dark day again,” she said.
Schumer condemns ‘domestic terrorists’ who stormed Capitol
The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, called for the “goons” and “thugs” and “domestic terrorists” who stormed the Capitol today to be “prosecuted to the full extent of the law”. He reminded those listening that “today’s events did not occur spontaneously”.
“This mob was in good part President Trump’s doing, incited by his words and his lies,” Schumer said.
Mitch McConnell referred to the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol as “the unhinged crowd we saw today”.
“We’ve never been deterred before and we won’t be deterred today,” he said. “They tried to disrupt our democracy and they failed.
“Criminal behavior will never dominate the United States Congress,” McConnell said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “The United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats.”
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today: You did not win,” Vice-President Mike Pence said. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”
“Let’s get back to work.”
Certification resumes after Capitol takeover
As expected, Congress has reconvened tonight on the Senate floor for the electoral vote certification.
Vice-President Mike Pence opened the session.
Hey all, Vivian Ho on the west coast taking over for the indefatigable Joan Greve.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now on the senate floor. The electoral vote count is expected to resume momentarily.
Today so far
That’s it from me after a sadly historic day in Washington. My west coast colleague, Vivian Ho, will take over the blog for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Congress will soon resume its electoral college vote count after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to evacuate the building. It’s unclear whether Republicans will move forward with their objections to the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
- A woman who was shot at the Capitol has reportedly died. Earlier reports indicated that the woman was in critical condition after being shot in the chest as the Capitol was breached.
- Wasington, DC, is under curfew in response to the violence. City residents have been told not to occupy public spaces until 6 am tomorrow.
- Donald Trump celebrated the mob as “very special” people. The president justified the violence at the Capitol by citing his baseless claims of widespread election fraud. In a video that Twitter has since deleted from his account, the president told his supporters, “We love you!”
- Biden called on Trump to “demand an end to this siege.” The president-elect said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, “It’s not a protest; it’s insurrection. The world is watching.”
Vivian will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Senators are being escorted back into the Senate chamber to resume the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race.
The joint session is expected to recommence in about 10 minutes. It’s unclear whether Republican lawmakers still intend to object to the electoral votes from Georgia and Pennsylvania after the violence at the Capitol today.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for the impeachment of Donald Trump, echoing some other progressive lawmakers after today’s violence at the Capitol.
The New York congresswoman sent a single-word tweet saying, “Impeach.”
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, another member of the progressive “Squad” in the House, said earlier today that she was filing articles of impeachment.
Some Democrats had previously suggested it was not worth impeaching Trump with so little time left in his term, but the events of the day may change many minds on that.
Melania Trump’s chief of staff has reportedly resigned, effective immediately, in the wake of a pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol.
[Stephanie] Grisham was one of the longest-serving Trump administration officials, having begun her tenure working for then-candidate Donald Trump in 2015 as a press wrangler on the campaign trail. Grisham entered the White House as deputy press secretary under Sean Spicer, but in March 2017, Melania Trump hired her for her East Wing staff. As East Wing communications director, Grisham quickly became the first lady’s most prominent staffer, acting as defender, enforcer and, often, protector.
Grisham previously served as White House communications director and press secretary. She didn’t hold a single White House briefing while she held the role, and she was eventually replaced by Kayleigh McEnany.
The Guardian’s Lois Beckett spoke to Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, about the violence at the Capitol today.
Heyer was murdered in Charlottesville in 2017, after a man deliberately drove a car into a group of demonstrators who were counter-protesting a neo-Nazi event.
“This path has always been predictable,” Bro told Beckett. “And for people to now go, ‘I never knew this would happen,’ why not? How would you not see this happen?”
Bro added that she had seen a “great deal of difference in how black protesters and white protesters are treated”.
“I think we’re going to have to have some accountability of actions here, otherwise this will be attempted again and again,” Bro said. “I am saying there needs to be accountability, and it needs to be commensurate with what you would see handed to people of color.”
Mike Pence has returned to the Senate chamber, after being evacuated due to concerns about his safety after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
A spokesperson for the vice-president said Pence never left the Capitol and was in regular contact with congressional leadership, law enforcement, the justice department and the defense department to secure the building.
“And now we will finish the People’s business,” spokesperson Devin O’Malley said.
Amid the violence and chaos at the Capitol, Pence seems to have taken over many of the responsibilities that would traditionally go to the president.
The electoral college ballots, which will finalize Joe Biden’s victory, are now on their way back to the Senate chamber.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has indicated that the chambers will reconvene to continue with the certification in about 45 minutes.
Twitter locks Trump’s account for at least 12 hours
Twitter has announced that Donald Trump’s account will be locked for at least 12 hours, after the removal of three of the president’s tweets.
“As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy,” the Twitter Safety account said in a tweet thread.
“This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.”
The social media giant added, “Future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account.”
The White House has also already called a lid for tonight, meaning the president will not make any other public appearances today, so we won’t be hearing from him for the rest of the night.
Another Republican senator, Richard Burr of North Carolina, has directly blamed Donald Trump for the violence on Capitol Hill today.
“I supported President Trump’s legal right to contest the election results through the courts, but the courts have now unanimously and overwhelmingly rejected these suits. No evidence of voter fraud has emerged that would warrant overturning the 2020 election,” Burr said in a new statement.
“The President bears responsibility for today’s events by promoting the unfounded conspiracy theories that have led to this point. It is past time to accept the will of American voters and to allow our nation to move forward.”
One of Burr’s Republican colleagues, Mitt Romney, also released a statement tonight describing the violence as “an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States”.
The Guardian’s Edward Helmore reports:
The Proud Boys’ leader, Enrique Tarrio, told the Guardian he’d instructed members of the far-right group to stay away from the anti-certification protest Wednesday that escalated into the occupation of the Capitol building.
“I don’t think the occupation of the Capitol Building was planned. To me this is a cocktail – a whole bunch of people in DC and a whole lot who are pissed off.” Capitol police, he said, “had assaulted and pepper sprayed Trump supporters – the people who usually ‘back the blue’. They’d had enough. So they pushed through and got into the Capitol.”
Tarrio, who was barred from entering Washington DC on Tuesday after he was arrested on vandalism and weapons charges, said he was not “one of the people who think the election was stolen”.
But, he added, “I think there was inconsistency over the numbers and a lack of transparency that people deserve” and president-elect Joe Biden had done nothing to allay the fears of people who felt they were not being listened to.
“So this is the result. Biden has the presidency, the Senate and now the House, but he doesn’t have the people. I think they’d be calmer if he had shown that he is prepared to listen to them.”
Earlier tonight, House majority whip Jim Clyburn said Congress would continue the electoral college vote count, emphasizing that he would not be deterred by “violent hatred”.
“I have faced violent hatred before. I was not deterred then, and I will not be deterred now,” said Clyburn, who was active in the civil rights movement.
“This authoritarian menace will not succeed in his attempts to overthrow our democratically elected government,” the Democratic whip added.
“I am praying for the safety and security of the public servants who are dedicated to making this country a ‘more perfect union’.”
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that he expected the joint session to resume in a little over an hour, at 8 pm ET.
So far, only two states’ electoral votes have been formally counted by Congress, so the session could go late into the night, depending on Republicans’ objections.
Pelosi says Congress will proceed with certification tonight
Nancy Pelosi announced in a letter to colleagues that Congress would move forward with the certification of Joe Biden’s victory tonight.
“Today, a shameful assault was made on our democracy. It was anointed at the highest level of government. It cannot, however, deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden,” the Democratic speaker said.
“To that end, in consultation with Leader Hoyer and Whip Clyburn and after calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Vice President, we have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use. Leader Hoyer will be sending out more guidance later today.”
The House and the Senate were debating a Republican objection to Arizona’s electoral votes when the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
Before the violence today, Republicans were expected to raise similar objections to the electoral votes from Georgia and Pennsylvania, but it’s unclear whether they still will after the events at the Capitol.
Senator Mitt Romney condemned the events of today, describing the storming of the Capitol as “an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States”.
The Utah Republican said in a new statement, “Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy. They will be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. That will be their legacy.”
Romney called on the Senate to continue with the counting of electoral college votes without any further objections.
“I urge my colleagues to move forward with completing the electoral count, to refrain from further objections, and to unanimously affirm the legitimacy of the presidential election,” Romney said.
George W Bush condemned the violence at the US Capitol today, describing the events of the day as an “insurrection” and criticizing the “reckless behavior” of some lawmakers since election day.
“Laura and I are watching the scenes of mayhem unfolding at the seat of our Nation’s government in disbelief and dismay. It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight. This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic,” the former Republican president said in a statement.
“I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement. The violent assault on the Capitol – and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress – was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.
“Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation. In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law. To those who are disappointed in the results of the election: Our country is more important than the politics of the moment. Let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety. May God continue to bless the United States of America.”
Bush, the only living Republican president besides Donald Trump, announced yesterday that he would attend Joe Biden’s inauguration later this month.
The Guardian’s Kari Paul reports:
Facebook and YouTube removed a video post from the account of Donald Trump in which the president attempted to delegitimize the result of the presidential election after his supporters stormed the US Capitol.
Facebook and YouTube’s rare enforcement action were just two of several actions social media companies took against messaging from the president in an attempt to respond to the unprecedented chaos unfolding at the US Capitol.
Earlier on Wednesday, Twitter blocked several posts from Donald Trump – including the one Facebook deleted – from being shared, citing a “risk of violence”. However it declined to remove the video in question.
“In line with our Civic Integrity Policy and recent guidance, we have placed a label on the Tweet, and have significantly restricting engagement with the Tweet due to the risk of violence,” a spokesman said. “This means this Tweet will not be able to be replied to, Retweeted, or liked.”
Trump revels in violent mob storming the Capitol
Donald Trump justified a group of his supporters storming the US Capitol by citing his baseless claims of widespread election fraud.
The president said in a new tweet, “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!”
Trump seemed to be reveling in the events of the day just moments after reports emerged that a woman who was shot at the US Capitol earlier today has now died.
DC curfew goes into effect
It is 6 pm ET, so the curfew in Washington has now taken effect. Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked residents to avoid public spaces until 6 am tomorrow.
An announcement played at the Capitol informing those there that anyone still on Capitol grounds after 6 pm would be subject to arrest.
Officials said the Capitol is now secure, about four hours after a breach by a pro-Trump mob, but it’s unclear whether lawmakers will be able to proceed with the electoral college vote count.
Woman shot at the Capitol has died – report
A woman shot in the chest on Capitol grounds today, as a pro-Trump mob stormed the building, has died, according to NBC News.
It was previously reported that the woman, who has not yet been identified, was in critical condition after sustaining gunshot wounds.
DC police chief says 13 people arrested in connection to Capitol ‘riot’
The DC police chief, Robert Contee, said that 13 people have been arrested so far in connection to the “riot” at the US Capitol.
Of those 13 people, three were from Arlington, Virginia. The other ten were from outside the Washington region.
It’s worth noting that, during last summer’s protests over the police killing of George Floyd, more than 400 people were arrested, mostly for curfew violations.
Contee told reporters that the rioters deployed “chemical irritants on police” to gain access to the US Capitol.
“A riot was declared. It was clear that the crowd was intent on causing harm to our officers,” Contee said.
A curfew will take effect in Washington in about 15 minutes.
US Capitol is ‘secure,’ sergeant at arms says
The sergeant at arms announced to lawmakers, who are being held in an undisclosed location, that the Capitol is now “secure.”
The room broke out in applause following the announcement.
Here’s how US politicians and commentators have been reacting to the Trump-fueled chaos at the Capitol today:
Ivanka Trump was fiercely criticized after she described the rioters who stormed the US Capitol as “American patriots.”
The president’s daughter said in the now-deleted tweet, “American patriots – any security breach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable.”
Trump later tried to clean up the tweet by saying in response to a reporter’s question, “Peaceful protest is patriotic. Violence is unacceptable and must be condemned in the strongest terms.”
Pentagon says Pence, not Trump, approved national guard deployment
The acting secretary of defense, Christopher Miller, said in a statement that he discussed the deployment of national guard troops to the Capitol with Mike Pence, not Donald Trump.
“Chairman Milley and I just spoke separately with the Vice President and with Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Senator Schumer and Representative Hoyer about the situation at the US Capitol,” Miller said in the statement.
“We have fully activated the DC National Guard to assist federal and local law enforcement as they work to peacefully address the situation. We are prepared to provide additional support as necessary and appropriate as requested by local authorities.”
There were earlier reports that the Pentagon had initially denied the request for national guard troops to be deployed, but reinforcements have now been sent to the Capitol.
Law enforcement officials now appear to be trying to clear rioters out of areas of the Capitol by deploying teargas and flash grenades.
Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat of Oregon, confirmed that the electoral college ballots were saved by Senate floor staffers as they evacuated the chamber.
“If our capable floor staff hadn’t grabbed them, they would have been burned by the mob,” Merkley said in a tweet.
Senator Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat of Illinois, credited a “very, very quick-thinking” staffer with grabbing the electoral college ballots before lawmakers were forced to evacuate the chamber.
“So we have them with us, and we will be able to proceed as long as Mitch McConnell calls us back into session,” Duckworth told CBS News.
Ilhan Omar, a progressive congresswoman from Minnesota, said she was drawing up articles of impeachment after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol today.
“Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate,” Omar said.
“We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath.”
There had been some rumblings among Democrats about impeachment after Trump’s call with the Georgia secretary of state was made public, but some Democratic lawmakers said they did not think impeachment was necessary because Trump’s term will end in two weeks.
But the events of today may change some minds on that front.
The Guardian’s Kari Paul reports:
Twitter suspended two of Donald Trump’s tweets from being shared and flagged many others for misinformation as he appeared to encourage a violent insurrection at the US capitol.
The platform faced increased calls to suspend the president’s account after he condemned Vice-President Mike Pence for refusing to overturn election results over unsubstantiated reports of voter fraud.
It flagged a tweet in which Trump accused Pence of failing to have “the courage to do what should have been done” and refuse to certify the results. It prevented users from retweeting the message, citing “risk of violence”, the first time it has included such a tag.
“In regard to the ongoing situation in Washington, D.C., we are working proactively to protect the health of the public conversation occurring on the service and will take action on any content that violates the Twitter Rules,” the company wrote.
Further, the company’s Safety account, which shares updates and enforcements of company policy, released a series of statements saying it is working to rein in violent language on the platform as the attempted coup continues to unfold.
Twitter has flagged a number of tweets from Trump sharing misinformation or calling for violence in the last year. It has also faced criticism for failing to remove tweets quickly enough and calls to remove the account entirely.
“Threats of and calls to violence are against the Twitter Rules, and we are enforcing our policies accordingly,” the company wrote.
Twitter is not allowing users to engage with the video that Donald Trump just tweeted out due to “a risk of violence”.
In the video, Trump praised his supporters, some of whom stormed the US Capitol, as “very special”. The president said to them, “We love you.”
Trump praises supporters as ‘very special’ after mob storms the Capitol
Donald Trump has released a pre-recorded video urging his supporters, some of whom stormed the US Capitol with firearms, to “go home”, while also praising them as “very special”.
“I know your pain, I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side,” Trump said. “But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order.”
To say this for the 1,000th time, the president and his allies have produced no evidence of widespread fraud in the election.
Trump blamed his opponents for the violence today and praised his supporters, saying, “We can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you; you’re very special.”
According to reports, one woman is in critical condition after being shot in the chest on Capitol grounds, and one police officer has been transported to a local hospital.
Ossoff wins Georgia race, giving Democrats the Senate
Democrat Jon Ossoff has won his Senate runoff race against David Perdue, the AP just announced.
With the victories of Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the US Senate is now 50-50. Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris will serve as the tie-breaking 51st vote, giving Democrats control of the chamber.
This is the first time that Democrats will control the Senate since 2015.
Cori Bush, the newly elected progressive congresswoman from Missouri, said she would introduce a resolution calling for the expulsion of Republican members who have “incited this domestic terror attack through their attempts to overturn the election.”
When the Capitol was stormed by a pro-Trump mob, the House and the Senate were debating a Republican objection to the electoral votes from Arizona, which Joe Biden won in November.
Photos of Trump supporters are emerging from inside the Capitol building that are hard to believe. Before today, the idea that anyone could storm Congress like this, and occupy its offices and chambers, was simply unimaginable. Here is a selection of some of the surreal scenes from today so far:
Biden calls on Trump to ‘demand an end to this siege’
President-elect Joe Biden denounced the violence at the Capitol, after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building.
“At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault, unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times,” Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware.
The Democratic president-elect lamented the “assault on the rule of law” in Washington, a “citadel of liberty”.
“The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are,” Biden said. “What we’re seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness.”
Biden said the violence at the Capitol “borders on sedition” and “must end now”.
“I call on President Trump to go on national television now, to fulfill his oath and defend the constitution and demand an end to this siege,” Biden said. “It’s not a protest; it’s insurrection. The world is watching.”
A senior spokesperson for the Pentagon confirmed that the DC national guard has been mobilized to address the violent situation at the Capitol.
The spokesperson, Jonathan Hoffman, also said the acting defense secretary, Christopher Miller, has been in contact with congressional leaders.
The Nato secretary general expressed shock at the images coming out of Washington, as a pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol.
“Shocking scenes in Washington, D.C. The outcome of this democratic election must be respected,” Jens Stoltenberg said in a tweet.
The message was a powerful reminder that the world is watching as Washington devolves into chaos.
A spokesman for Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, said he was also sending National Guard troops and state troopers to Washington amid the violence at the Capitol.
White House says national guard is on the way
The White House said national guard troops are on their way to the Capitol, after the building was breached by a mob of Trump supporters.
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said in a tweet, “At President @realDonaldTrump’s direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services.”
She added, “We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful.”
Of course, it seems odd to ask the president’s supporters to “remain” peaceful, when some of them have already engaged in violence. According to reports, one woman is in critical condition after being shot on Capitol grounds.
Pence says the violence at the Capitol ‘must stop now’
The vice-president, who was evacuated from the Senate chamber after the Capitol was breached, said the violence and destruction taking place “must stop and it must stop now”.
“Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building,” Pence said in a tweet thread.
“Peaceful protest is the right of every American but this attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Donald Trump has not yet called on the mob to disperse; he has simply asked them to “remain peaceful”, even as some of them engage in violence.
Today so far
Here’s what we know so far about what’s unfolding at the US Capitol:
- A mob of Trump supporters have stormed the Capitol after attending a rally in Washington. Some are armed, and some have been involved in physical clashes with the police, while others have been able to enter the Senate and House chambers.
- A woman is reportedly in critical condition after being shot on the grounds of the Capitol.
- A former DC police chief has said “this is as close to a coup attempt as this country has ever seen”.
- Trump has called on his supporters to “remain peaceful” despite instructing them to march to the Capitol at the rally earlier today.
- The Democratic governor of Virginia said he is sending national guard troops and state troopers to Washington.
The Democratic governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, said he was sending National Guard troops and state troopers to DC to respond to the violent situation at the Capitol.
Abby Phillip of CNN noted that the lack of National Guard troops at the US Capitol was a stark contrast to last summer, when the guard was quickly deployed to respond to protesters who were outraged by the police killing of George Floyd.
Woman in critical condition after being shot on Capitol grounds – reports
A woman is in critical condition after being shot in the chest at the US Capitol as Trump supporters stormed the building, according to multiple reports.
Administration officials condemned the actions of the mob that breached the Capitol, but it’s unclear whether federal authorities are sending assistance to US Capitol police.
Adam Kinzinger, a Republican congressman, described Donald Trump’s tweet to his supporters storming the US Capitol as “cowardice.”
Speaking to CNN, the Illinois congressman called on the president to acknowledge his defeat in the presidential race and allow the electoral college vote count to move forward.
Trump’s former acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, also said the president needed to instruct his supporters to “go home.”
Donald Trump has sent another tweet asking his supporters to “remain peaceful”, as some of them storm the US Capitol.
“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!” Trump said.
It’s important to remember that, at the end of his speech at the rally in Washington today, Trump instructed his supporters to march to the Capitol and protest against the electoral college vote certification.
The president also sent a tweet criticizing Mike Pence for not trying to block the certification, before he sent a much more subdued tweet urging protesters to stay peaceful.
The Washington Post is now reporting that the defense department has denied a request from DC officials to deploy the national guard to the US Capitol.
The defense department is currently led by acting secretary Christopher Miller, who was appointed in November, after Donald Trump abruptly fired Mark Esper.
The situation at the Capitol has made it clear that the US Capitol police need more assistance, and those watching the situation are starting to ask why help hasn’t arrived.
The Trump supporters storming the Capitol are now walking on the Senate floor, after the vice-president and lawmakers who were in the chamber were evacuated amid the electoral college vote certification.
Alyssa Farah, who served as Donald Trump’s communications director until last month, called on the president to condemn the actions of his supporters as they stormed the US Capitol.
So far, the president has sent two tweets since the Capitol was breached. One criticized Mike Pence for not trying to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, and the other (much less enthusiastic) one urged his supporters to “stay peaceful.”
Ex-police chief warns of ‘coup attempt’
Charles Ramsey, a former DC police chief, said he believes Donald Trump should “shut the hell up and get out of the way” to allow law enforcement to secure the Capitol.
“This is as close to a coup attempt as this country has ever seen,” Ramsey told CNN.
Congressman Gerry Connolly, a Democrat of Virginia, confirmed that members were given gas masks before being evacuated from the floor, and teargas was deployed in the Rotunda.
A HuffPost reporter shared a photo from inside the chamber, showing one protester on the dais as he yelled that Donald Trump won the presidential election. (He obviously did not.)
A congressional reporter said one protester was shooting into the House chamber, as police officers tried to barricade the door with guns drawn.
Pro-Trump protesters are now surrounding the House chamber, and members are reportedly being evacuated from the floor.
After encouraging his supporters to march to the Capitol amid the electoral vote certification and sending a tweet criticizing Mike Pence, Donald Trump finally sent this very tepid message to protesters to “stay peaceful.”
The mayor of DC, Muriel Bowser, has announced a citywide curfew from 6pm tonight until 6am tomorrow, after pro-Trump protesters breached the US Capitol.
Trump lashes out against Pence as protesters breach the Capitol
The House and the Senate have now both recessed, due to concerns about pro-Trump protesters breaching the Capitol.
As Capitol police issued instructions to lawmakers and staffers on how to stay safe amid the chaos, Donald Trump sent a tweet criticizing Mike Pence for not trying to circumvent the will of American voters by blocking the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
Trump said, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”
According to reports, Pence was quickly moved out of the Senate chamber due to concerns about his safety after the Capitol was breached.
Pro-Trump protesters breach the Capitol
The pro-Trump protesters have now breached the Capitol and are standing outside the Senate chamber as lawmakers debate a Republican objection to Arizona’s electoral votes.
Capitol goes into lockdown as Trump supporters clash with police
The US Capitol is now on lockdown, with no one allowed to go in or out, as Trump supporters clash with police outside the building.
Hundreds of protesters have attempted to breach the barricades around the Capitol, as lawmakers inside the building move toward certifying Joe Biden’s victory.
It’s important to note that Donald Trump instructed his supporters to march to the Capitol when he addressed rally attendees in Washington this afternoon.
“We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Ave — I love Pennsylvania Avenuw — and we’re going to the Capitol,” the president said.
“We’re going to try and give our Republicans — the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help — we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,” Trump added. “So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
The situation at the Capitol is getting alarming, as Trump supporters attempt to breach the barricades around the building.
Reporters sitting in the Senate press gallery were informed that, if protesters storm the building, they would be taken into the Senate chamber with the door locked behind them.
Elaine Luria, a Democratic congresswoman from Virginia, said her House office was evacuated due to a report of a pipe bomb outside.
“I don’t recognize our country today and the members of Congress who have supported this anarchy do not deserve to represent their fellow Americans,” Luria said in a tweet.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy also urged the protesters near the Capitol, some of whom have attempted to storm barricades, to “remain peaceful.”
Senator Ted Cruz defended his objection to Arizona’s electoral votes by noting that polling shows 39% of Americans believe the election was rigged.
Of course, the reason that many Americans believe that is because Donald Trump and his allies have spread baseless claims of widespread election fraud without presenting any evidence.
So Cruz is effectively citing Republicans’ faith in the president as evidence of fraud, without presenting any actual evidence of fraud.
McConnell warns blocking certification would ‘damage our republic forever’
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, made an impassioned speech in favor of certification, as the chamber debated an objection to Arizona’s electoral votes.
“I’ve served 36 years in the Senate,” the Republican leader said. “This will be the most important vote I have ever cast.”
McConnell warned that overruling the will of the people in the presidential election would do irreparable harm to American democracy.
“The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. They’ve all spoken,” McConnell said. “If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.”
McConnell also noted that the November election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump was not particularly close, certainly not close enough to raise doubts about the outcome.
“If this election were overturned by mere accusations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” McConnell said.
Criticizing the members of his party who are objecting to the certification, McConnell added, “I will not pretend that such a vote is a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing.”
House offices evacuated as Trump supporters storm Capitol barriers
Capitol Police are ordering two House offices to be evacuated as hundreds of Trump supporters stormed barriers around the building.
Videos showed Trump supporters, who attended today’s “March to Save America” rally in Washington, clashing with police officers on the Capitol steps.
After congressman Paul Gosar raised an objection to Arizona’s electoral votes and confirmed the objection was co-signed by senator Ted Cruz, Republicans offered Gosar a standing ovation in the chamber.
The House and the Senate will now debate Gosar’s objection for up to two hours, and it is expected to be easily defeated.
Republicans raise first objection to electoral college certification
Congressional Republicans have raised their first objection to the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race.
After senator Amy Klobuchar announced Arizona’s 11 electoral votes would go to Biden and Kamala Harris, Paul Gosar, a Republican congressman from Arizona, raised an objection.
Mike Pence asked if Gosar’s objection was co-signed by a senator, as required by law, and Gosar confirmed that it was.
The House and the Senate will now debate the objection for up to two hours. The objection is expected to be easily defeated.
Republicans are also expected to object to the Georgia and Pennsylvania electoral votes, so Congress will go through this process at least three times.
It’s going to be a long day.
Nancy Pelosi opened the joint session by noting that only a limited number of people were allowed on the floor at a time, to comply with social-distancing guidelines.
The Democratic speaker’s announcement was met with grumbling on the Republican side, and congressman Morgan Griffith then posed a parliamentary inquiry to ask how lawmakers were supposed to object if only 11 members are allowed on the floor.
Mike Pence dismissed Griffith’s inquiry by saying that debate is not allowed during such a session. So far, it appears the vice-president plans to oversee the session by adhering very closely to the rules.
Congress convenes to finalize Biden’s victory
Mike Pence, the vice-president, and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, have now taken their places to oversee the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
The electoral college votes have made their way to the House floor to be formally counted.
Pence says he will not try to block certification of Biden’s victory
Mike Pence has released a letter announcing that he will not attempt to block the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory today.
Citing his constitutional obligations, Pence writes that the vice-president does not have the “unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted”.
“Our Founders were deeply skeptical of concentrations of power and created a Republic based on separation of powers and checks and balances,” Pence said.
“Vesting the VP with unilateral authority to decide presidential contests would be entirely antithetical to that design.”
Donald Trump has repeatedly pressured Pence to try to block Congress from finalizing Biden’s victory, even though there is no precedent for doing so.
The president said moments ago at the “March to Save America” rally in Washington, “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our constitution.”
If Merrick Garland is confirmed as attorney general, it would open up a seat on the highly influential US court of appeals for the District of Columbia circuit.
The appeals court is often seen as a training ground for the supreme court, and Joe Biden’s team has reportedly already discussed who should be nominated to fill Garland’s seat.
NBC News reports:
With Democrats expected to win a Senate majority after strong showings in both of Georgia’s runoff races, they would likely have an easier path in both confirming Garland as attorney general — and the nominee eventually named to replace him on the court.
Biden advisers have discussed Ketanji Brown Jackson, currently a judge on the U.S. District Court for D.C., to replace Garland on the D.C. Circuit court, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The Guardian is still waiting on an official AP race call in the second Georgia Senate election, but Jon Ossoff has slightly grown his lead over David Perdue.
The Democratic candidate now has 17,567 more votes than his Republican opponent, representing a lead of 0.4 points.
If Ossoff’s lead ends up being more than 0.5 points, the race will be outside of recount territory.
Raphael Warnock, who has already been declared the winner of his election, currently leads Kelly Loeffler by 1.2 points, so that race will not be eligible for a recount either.
Donald Trump is putting the pressure on Mike Pence, who will oversee the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory today.
Speaking to attendees of the “March to Save America” rally in Washington, Trump said the vice-president needs to “come through” for his supporters.
“Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution,” Trump said.
The president went on to say that Pence could send the election back to the states to re-certify the results, but that has never been done by any vice-president in US history.
Pence has reportedly told Trump that he has no power to influence the outcome of the certification because the role of the vice-president at today’s session is more ceremonial than anything.
Biden to nominate Merrick Garland as attorney general – reports
Joe Biden has selected federal judge Merrick Garland as his nominee to lead the justice department, according to multiple reports.
Biden selected Garland over former Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, choosing to elevate the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals in D.C. to run the Justice Department. …
In a Republican-controlled Senate, Jones was viewed as the easiest candidate to get confirmed given his strong relationships across the aisle. Garland was also considered a risk in that it would be difficult to confirm a replacement for him on the appellate court.
But with Democrats expected to have won the majority with a pair of upset victories in Georgia, confirmation issues with other candidates largely dissipated.
Barack Obama nominated Garland to the supreme court in 2015, after the death of Antonin Scalia, but Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to consider his nomination. After Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, Scalia’s seat was ultimately filled by Neil Gorsuch.
Trump says he will ‘never concede’ as Congress nears certifying Biden’s win
Donald Trump is now speaking to attendees of the “March to Save America” rally in Washington, less than an hour before Congress will convene to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
The president reiterated his baseless claims of widespread fraud in the election, telling rally attendees, “We will never give up, we will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
Of course, Trump and his allies have failed to produce any evidence of widespread fraud in the November election.
And although some congressional Republicans intend to object to the certification of Biden’s win today, they have no path to actually blocking the president-elect from taking office.
The fact remains that Biden’s victory will be certified today, and he will be sworn in on January 20.
•Jon Ossoff is closing in on victory in the Georgia US Senate race. The Democrat was leading by more than 17,000 votes on Wednesday morning. A victory for Ossoff would tie the US Senate 50-50, effectively handing control to Democrats as Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris would have the tie-breaking vote.
•Raphael Warnock won his Senate election overnight, defeating Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler. He becomes the first Black Democratic senator to be elected from the south and Georgia’s first ever Black senator. In a victory speech Warnock noted that his mother, who had been a teenage sharecropper, had voted for him. “The 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” Warnock said.
•Joe Biden congratulated Warnock and promised “urgent action” on a fresh Covid relief bill. “I have long said that the bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill passed in December was just a down payment. We need urgent action on what comes next, because the COVID-19 crisis hits red states and blue states alike.”
•Thousands of Trump supporters have gathered in Washington for what is a doomed attempt to have Congress reject Joe Biden as president. Congress is meeting to certify each state’s election results, but a dozen Republican senators have announced they will join with conspiracy-minded members of the House of Representatives to reject the outcome of certain states.
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