Congress affirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election early Thursday morning after a long and tense day on Capitol Hill.
Earlier Wednesday, a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol and forced lawmakers into hiding, in a stunning attempt to overturn America’s presidential election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Biden from replacing Trump in the White House.
The nation’s elected representatives scrambled to crouch under desks and don gas marks, while police futilely tried to barricade the building, one of the most jarring scenes ever to unfold in a seat of American political power. A woman was shot and killed inside the Capitol and three others died after suffering medical emergencies nearby. Washington’s mayor instituted an evening curfew in an attempt to contain the violence.
Here's the latest in the day's events:
FBI Calls for Help Identifying Rioters Who Stormed US Capitol
After Congressional Vote, Trump Pledges Orderly Transition of Power
President Donald Trump released a statement via Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino's Twitter early Thursday morning in which he pledged an orderly transition of power.
In his statement, the president again made false claims about the outcome of the election but said that this month will bring to end "the greatest first term in presidential history."
Trump's personal Twitter account had been locked by the social media company for posting messages that appeared to justify the assault on the seat of the nation’s democracy. His Facebook and Instagram accounts were also later locked temporarily.
Congress Confirms Joe Biden’s Electoral College Win
Early Thursday morning, Congress finished counting the Electoral College votes and confirmed President-Elect Joe Biden’s win after a chaotic day that resulted in four deaths and forced lawmakers to evacuate the Capitol.
Despite the disruption and objections from Republicans to election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania, members from both chambers were able to certify the Electoral College more than 14 hours after the process began.
Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated as the 46th president of the U.S. on January 20.
Pennsylvania Objection Fails in House
The objection to Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes failed in the House, moving the counting process along after a series of delays during what was previously thought of as a simply ceremonial event.
A total of 138 House members voted to sustain the objection, and 282 members opposed the motion.
While the Senate decided to forgo any discussion on the objection before voting to strike the motion, House members engaged in two hours of debate. Legislators from both chambers can now resume their joint session and finish counting the Electoral College votes.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., previously said he did not expect any more votes for the evening.
Rep. Jake LaTurner Tests Positive for COVID-19 After Appearing on House Floor
Newly-elected Rep. Jake LaTurner, R-Kansas, tested positive for the coronavirus late Wednesday evening, he announced on Twitter Thursday morning.
The congressman had appeared on the House floor to vote Wednesday, but is now quarantining and will not return to the floor "until he is cleared to do so," his tweet said.
LaTurner is not experiencing any symptoms at this time.
Trump Administration Staffers Are Discussing the 25th Amendment
Multiple sources familiar with the matter said there have been informal discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment among staff-level officials within the Trump administration, NBC News reports.
President Donald Trump spent the day inciting and praising a mob that stormed the Capitol, so much so that he has been locked out of Twitter and Facebook for at least 12 hours.
It's unclear whether Cabinet-level officials have discussed the matter; two sources said the issue hasn't been broached with Vice President Mike Pence, who would need to agree along with a majority of the Cabinet to empower the vice president under the 25th Amendment.
The conversations have been fueled in part by concerns of unrest and insurrection throughout the U.S. over the next two weeks, before President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as president, but there are some large questions.
A source said it is unclear whether it would be legally possible to invoke the 25th Amendment in two weeks and whether enough Cabinet-level officials would back the effort.
Capitol Complex Declared All-Clear
Early Thursday morning, Capitol Police declared the Capitol Complex all clear.
A notice was sent to congressional staff about 1:15 a.m. indicating that officials had cleared the security threat after a mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.
The official notice indicating that normal operations could resume came as the House debated objections to the election results in Pennsylvania.
Tempers Flare in House During Rep. Conor Lamb's Speech
Pennsylvania Objection Fails in the Senate, No Debate
Senators chose to skip all debate and immediately vote to strike down an objection to the Pennsylvania Electoral College certification early Thursday morning.
Only seven Senators voted to sustain the objection while another 92 opposed the motion.
The objection, raised by Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., and cosigned by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., came after Senators failed to cosign objections to three other states.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Hawley both voted to sustain the objection. Sens. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Rick Scott of Florida, and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, and Roger Marshall of Kansas also voted in favor of the objection.
Members of the House continue to debate before voting on the objection.
House Rejects Challenge to Biden Arizona Win
The House on Wednesday turned aside a challenge to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona, guaranteeing the result will stand.
Republicans raised the objection based on false claims pushed by President Donald Trump and others of issues with the vote in Arizona, which were repeatedly dismissed in Arizona’s courts and by the state’s election officials.
4 Died as Trump Supporters Stormed Capitol: Police
Four people died as supporters of President Donald Trump violently occupied the U.S. Capitol.
Washington, D.C., Police Chief Robert Contee said the dead on Wednesday included a San Diego woman who was shot by the U.S. Capitol Police, as well as three others who died in “medical emergencies.”
Police said both law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants during the hourslong occupation of the Capitol building before it was cleared Wednesday evening by law enforcement.
The woman was shot earlier Wednesday as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol where police were armed on the other side. She was hospitalized with a gunshot wound and later died.
D.C. police officials also say two pipe bombs were recovered, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee. Police found a cooler from a vehicle that had a long gun and Molotov cocktail on Capitol grounds.
30 Arrested for Violating Curfew in DC
Police have arrested 30 people for violating a curfew imposed in Washington, D.C., after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Officials say the 30 people were arrested Wednesday evening after being found on the streets after the 6 p.m. curfew.
The curfew had been imposed after scores of supporters of President Donald Trump broke into the Capitol, halting the constitutional process of voting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win. They were later forcibly removed from the Capitol.
The Metropolitan Police Department said 15 other people had been arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday in various protest-related arrests on an array of charges, including weapons possession and assault.
Fire officials also took 13 people to area hospitals on Wednesday from protest-related injuries.
Senate Rejects Objection Against Arizona Electoral Ballots
The Senate has overwhelmingly turned aside a challenge to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona, guaranteeing the result will stand.
The objection to the results in Arizona -- spearheaded by Rep. Paul Gosar and Sen. Ted Cruz -- was rejected 93-6 on Wednesday night. All votes in favor came from Republicans, but after violent protesters mobbed the Capitol earlier Wednesday a number of GOP senators who had planned to support the objection reversed course.
The Republicans raised the objection based on false claims pushed by President Donald Trump and others of issues with the vote in Arizona, which were repeatedly dismissed in Arizona’s courts and by the state’s election officials.
Graham: 'Count Me Out'
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a longtime supporter of President Donald Trump, distanced himself from the president late Wednesday on the Senate floor.
"Count me out. Enough is enough," he said. "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected," and will become president and vice president.
Some Reps. Call for Removal of Trump
U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D., R.I., tweeted Wednesday that he and other members of Congress are sending a letter to Vice President Mike Pence calling on him to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office.
The 25th Amendment says the vice president and a majority of principal officers of executive departments “or of such other body as Congress” may provide a declaration to Congress that the president “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
At that point, the vice president would assume the powers of acting president.
It was passed following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and President George W. Bush used it to temporarily transfer power to Vice President Dick Cheney while Bush was anesthetized for a colonoscopy
Pelosi: Biden Certification an Example for World
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election win will show the world it won’t back down.
Pelosi made her comments as the House reconvened after being shut down for hours Wednesday by unruly pro-Trump protesters. She said that every four years the ritual provides an example to the world of American democracy.
Pelosi says, “Despite the shameful actions of today, we will still do so, we will be part of a history that shows the world what America is made of.”
Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, noted that Wednesday is the feast of the Epiphany and prayed that the violence would be “an epiphany to heal” for the country.Pelosi: Biden certification an example for world.
2 More Resign From White House
Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews has resigned from her White House position after Wednesday's violence and chaos at the U.S. Capitol.
“I was honored to serve in the Trump administration and proud of the policies we enacted," she said in a statement to NBC News. "As someone who worked on the halls of Congress I was deeply disturbed by what I saw today. I’ll be stepping down from my role, effective immediately. Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.”
In addition, Rickie Niceta, the White House social secretary, resigned after Wednesday’s events, a source familiar with the matter tells NBC News.
Earlier in the day, Stephanie Grisham resigned as First Lady Melania Trump's chief of staff.
Trump Had to Be Convinced to Deploy Guard
President Donald Trump had to be convinced to deploy the National Guard on Wednesday as a mob of his supporters breached the Capitol, a person familiar with the matter confirms to NBC News.
Vice President Mike Pence - who was trapped in the Capitol under siege - was in contact with the Pentagon, per this source, and “encouraged a much more rapid deployment than what was occurring.”
Loeffler Reverses Course on Objecting to Vote Counting
U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Georgia Republican, reversed course Wednesday and said she will no longer object to counting the Electoral College votes.
“I can not now in good conscience object to the certification of the electors,” she said.
Loeffler was the projected loser of a key U.S. Senate runoff election this week, according to a projection by NBC News.
Obama Slams GOP, Citing 'Fantasy Narrative'
Former President Barack Obama is calling the violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol, "incited by a sitting president," a "moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation" and urged Republican lawmakers to "choose America" and counter the president's misinformation by accepting the results of the Electoral College.
In a statement issued Wednesday evening, Obama blamed the Republican party and "its accompanying media ecosystem" for fueling a "fantasy narrative" about the outcome of a lawful election.
"Right now, Republican leaders have a choice made clear in the desecrated chambers of democracy," Obama said. "They can continue down this road and keep stoking the raging fires. Or they can choose reality and take the first steps toward extinguishing the flames. They can choose America."
Schumer Says Mob Assault on Capitol Part of Trump's 'Terrible' Legacy
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pulled no punches on the floor of the Senate late Wednesday, pointing to President Donald Trump as a major reason for the chaos and violence in Washington.
"Unfortunately, we can now add Jan. 6, 2021 to that very short list of dates in American history that will live forever in infamy," he said. "I have never lived through or even imagined an experience like the one we have just witnessed in this Capital.
"This will be a stain on our Democracy not so easily washed away. The final terrible, indelible legacy of the 45th president of the United States, undoubtably our worst.
"This president bears a great deal of the blame," he continued. "This mob was in good part President Trump’s doing, incited by his words, his lies; this violence, in good part, his responsibility, his everlasting shame."
McConnell Calls Congress 'Resilient'
"The United States and the U.S. Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today.," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said as the Senate convened late Wednesday.
"We've never been deterred before and we will not be deterred today," he said. "They tried to disrupt our Democracy, and they failed. This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial this task is for our republic."
"Criminal behavior will never dominate the United States Congress. This institution is resilient. Our Democratic republic is strong. The American people deserve nothing less."
Pence Condemns Violence in DC
Vice President, speaking in the Senate after it reconvened late Wednesday, condemned the violence in Washington, D.C.
"To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win," he said. "Violence never wins. Freedom wins, and this is still the people's house. As we reconvene in this chamber, the world will again witness the resilience and strength of our Democracy."
Capitol Begins to Open
Legislative staffers and members of the press were being allowed into the Capitol, NBC News reported around 7:30 p.m. ET.
There were heavily armed officers from the Capitol Police and Secret Service near the Senate floor, including a counter-assault team.
Stephanie Grisham Resigns Following Violence in DC
Stephanie Grisham, the chief of staff for first lady Melania Trump, submitted her resignation Wednesday over the violence on Capitol Hill.
Grisham is the former White House communications director.
“It has been an honor to serve the country in the White House," she said. "I am very proud to have been a part of Mrs. Trump’s mission to help children everywhere, and proud of the many accomplishments of this Administration.”
Twitter Locks Trump Account
Twitter locked the account of President Donald Trump on Wednesday after removing three tweets he posted following the chaos in Washington., D.C. According to the tweet, the account "will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked."
GOP Rep. Says No Longer Backing Challenges to Electoral College
Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R, Washington, said late Wednesday she will no longer support objections to the electoral college vote after what happened at the Capitol.
"What we have seen today is unlawful and unacceptable," she said. "I have decided I will vote to uphold the Electoral College results and I encourage Donald Trump to condemn and put an end to this madness."
Lawmakers Will Resume Work to Affirm Biden Victory
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday the debate on affirming President-elect Joe Biden's victory would continue after the Capitol was secured.
"Today, a shameful assault was made on our democracy," she said. "It was anointed at the highest level of government. It cannot, however, deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden."
Dems Talk Impeachment
U.S. Rep Ilhan Omar said Wednesday she is drawing up articles of impeachment.
Several House Democrats were calling for various actions to be taken against President Donald Trump after the overrunning of the Capitol, NBC News reported. The fate of the attempts to remove Trump was uncertain.
Reps Ted Lieu and David Cicilline were drafting a letter to Vice President Mike Pence urging him to initiate 25th Amendment proceedings.
In an impeachment, the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict, and the penalty for an impeached official upon conviction is removal from office. In some cases, the Senate has also disqualified such officials from holding public offices in the future.
Facebook Pulls Trump Video
Guy Rosen, vice president of integrity at Facebook, tweeted Wednesday that Facebook had removed a video released earlier in the day by President Donald Trump.
"This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump's video," he said. "We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence."
Officials Declare Capitol 'Secure'
Officials have declared the U.S. Capitol complex “secure” after heavily armed police moved to end a nearly four-hour violent occupation by supporters of President Donald Trump.
An announcement saying “the Capitol is secure” rang out Wednesday evening inside a secure location for officials of the House. Lawmakers applauded.
The occupation interrupted Congress’ Electoral College count that will formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s upcoming inauguration on Jan. 20.
Lawmakers were evacuated to secure locations around the Capitol complex and Washington, D.C. after thousands of Trump supporters breached the building and skirmished with police officers.
Lawmakers have signaled that they would resume the constitutionally mandated count as soon as it was safe to do so.
Woman Dies After Being Shot at Capitol
Several law enforcement officials say the woman who was shot inside the Capitol building Wednesday has died, NBC News reported.
Earlier, several law enforcement officials said one person was shot inside the Capitol by a member of law enforcement.
No other details were immediately available.
FBI Says 2 Explosive Devices 'Rendered Safe'
Late afternoon Wednesday, as officials were working to clear the scene at the U.S. Capitol, the FBI released the following statement:
“Two suspected explosive devices were rendered safe by the FBI and our law enforcement partners. The investigation is ongoing.”
Pro-Trump Demonstrators Swarm Capitals Across US
Pro-Trump demonstrators have massed outside statehouses across the country, forcing evacuations in at least two states. In St. Paul, Minnesota, cheers rang out from demonstrators in reaction to the news that supporters of President Donald Trump had stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Hundreds of mostly unmasked people people gathered outside capitols on Wednesday with Trump flags and “Stop the Steal” signs. In Georgia and Oklahoma, some demonstrators carried guns.
New Mexico state police evacuated staff from a statehouse building that includes the governor’s and secretary of state’s offices as a precaution shortly after hundreds of flag-waving supporters arrived in a vehicle caravan and on horseback. A spokesperson for the governor´s office says there was no indication of threats at the statehouse.
The staff of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox was sent home as several hundred pro-Trump demonstrators rallied outside the Capitol, though the demonstration remained relatively calm. A brief scuffle between pro-Trump demonstrators, who included members of the Proud Boys, and counterprotesters broke out in Columbus, Ohio, but there was no immediate threat to the Capitol.
DC's Mayor, Police Chief Say Rioters 'Will Be Held Accountable'
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said the members of the mob that broke into the U.S. Capitol will be held responsible for their actions.
"The behavior that we are witnessing is shameful, unpatriotic and, above all, it is unlawful," Bowser said. "Anyone who has engaged in these activities, continues to engage in these activities, will be held accountable. There will be law and order, and this behavior will not be tolerated."
Bowser said Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee will lead the command to clear the rioters from the U.S. Capitol building and establish a perimeter.
Bowser ordered a curfew in the nation’s capital beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday after protestors seeking to overturn the election results stormed the U.S. Capitol building. The order extends through 6 a.m. Thursday.
The police chief of Washington, D.C., says pro-Trump protesters deployed “chemical irritants” on police in order to break into the U.S. Capitol.
Contee said officials have declared the scene a riot. One civilian was shot inside the Capitol on Wednesday. Thirteen arrests were made of people from out of the area.
Mayor Muriel Bowser says the behavior of the Trump supporters was “shameful, unpatriotic and above all is unlawful.” She says, “There will be law and order and this behavior will not be tolerated.”
Metropolitan police have been sent to the Capitol, and authorities were coming in from Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey to help out. The National Guard was also deployed, as were Homeland Security investigators and Secret Service.
Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. He held a rally earlier Wednesday and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people” and saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”
Trump, Pence Call on Supporters to Leave After Storming US Capitol
President Donald Trump, who for months has told supporters that any presidential election result other than him winning would be fraudulent, is now telling supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol to "go home." However, he continued repeating false claims about the presidential election.
In a video posted on Twitter, Trump said he understood his supporters' anger and disappointment over the election result. He continued airing baseless grievances that the election was "stolen."
"Go home. We love you. You're very special people," Trump said.
Trump's Twitter post itself was limited by the social media company as possibly being a risk of violence.
"This claim of election fraud is disputed, and this Tweet can't be replied to, Retweeted, or liked, due to a risk of violence," Twitter wrote under Trump's video.
Trump faced growing pressure from allies to condemn the violence Wednesday afternoon, Trump tweeted, “No violence!” adding: “Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue.” At the time, Trump did not ask his supporters to leave the area.
Trump had appeared earlier at a rally and had urged his supporters to march to the Capitol — at one point even suggesting he would join them. He is upset that he lost the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden and has falsely claimed voter fraud to explain it away.
He also urged his supporters to “get rid of the weak Congress people” — presumably through primary challenges — saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”
Vice President Mike Pence called on the supporters to "immediately leave the building."
'Assault on the Rule of Law': Biden Slams Trump Supporters at US Capitol
President-elect Joe Biden said the "small number of extremists" who stormed the U.S. Capitol building must end their effort.
"At this hour, our democracy is under an unprecedented assault. Unlike anything we've seen in modern times," Biden said. "It's not protest. It's insurrection."
"Let me be very clear: The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are. What we're seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness," Biden said. "This is not dissent, it's disorder. It's chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward."
Biden called on Trump to appear on national television and "demand an end to this siege."
"America is so much better than what we're seeing today," Biden said.
1,100 DC National Guard Members Deployed
The Pentagon says about 1,100 D.C. National Guard members are being mobilized to help support law enforcement as violent supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol.
Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said Wednesday afternoon that defense leaders have been in contact with the city and congressional leadership.
A defense official said all 1,100 of the D.C. Guard were being activated and sent to the city’s armory. The Guard forces will be used at checkpoints and for other similar duties and could also help in the enforcement of the 6 p.m. curfew being implemented tonight in the city.
The officials said the D.C. request for National Guard was not rejected earlier in the day. Instead, according to officials, the Guard members have a very specific mission that does not include putting military in a law enforcement role at the Capitol. As a result, the Guard must be used to backfill law enforcement outside the Capitol complex, freeing up more law enforcement to respond to the Capitol.
Hoffman said the law enforcement response to the violence will be led by the Justice Department.
Senate in Recess as Protesters Enter the Capitol Building
The Senate has recessed its debate over an objection to the results of the Electoral College after protesters forced police to lock down the building.
Reporters were told to stay in the Senate’s press gallery as the doors were locked.
Protesters tore down metal barricades at the bottom of the Capitol’s steps and were met by officers in riot gear. Some tried to push past the officers who held shields and officers could be seen firing pepper spray into the crowd to keep them back.
The skirmishes came just shortly after President Donald Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud.
Police Order Evacuation of Congressional Buildings on Hill as Protesters Breach Capitol Steps
The U.S. Capitol Police are evacuating some congressional office buildings as thousands of pro-Trump demonstrators stormed barricades set up outside the U.S. Capitol complex.
Police told congressional staff members they should evacuate the Cannon House Office Building and the building that houses the Library of Congress. It wasn’t immediately clear what specifically sparked the evacuation.
A police spokeswoman did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.
Thousands of people have descended on the U.S. Capitol as Congress is expected to vote to affirm Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential win. Videos posted online showed protesters fighting with U.S. Capitol Police officers as police fired pepper spray to keep them back.
The protesters breached the police line around the East Front of the Capitol and have crowded on the building's steps.
McConnell: Overruling Presidential Election Would Damage Our Republic Forever
In an expected break with Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered an impassioned rejection of the attempt to overturn the electoral results.
He acknowledged Trump’s claims that the vote had been stolen and what he called sweeping conspiracy theories given to explain how that occurred, but said there was no evidence of illegality on the massive scale that would be needed to tip the results.
“We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids,” he said. "The voters have spoken, and overruling them would damage our country forever."
Should the challenges succeed, American democracy would enter "a death spiral," he said. Every four years would be a scramble for power at any cost.
He said it would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise the American voters and disregard the legal decisions. McConnell said that he would vote to respect the people’s decision and defend the American system of government.
Rep. Gosar, Sen. Cruz Object to Arizona's Electoral College Votes
The first objection to the electoral votes came from Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona.
When Vice President Mike Pence asked if there was agreement from a senator, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, stood to applause from some Republican lawmakers.
The only explanation offered in writing was that they were not “regularly given.”
The senators and representatives then split to debate the dispute separately.
Attempts to overturn the Arizona vote in the courts have gone nowhere.
Just yesterday, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision dismissing the latest challenge to President Joe Biden’s win in the state, the Associated Press reported. The high court, which is controlled by Republicans, has now twice turned back an appeal from President Donald Trump’s backers. A total of eight lawsuits tried to overturn Trump’s loss and all failed.
Pence Defies Trump, Says He Can't Reject Electoral Votes
Defying President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that he does not have the power to discard electoral votes that will make Democrat Joe Biden the next president on Jan. 20.
Pence said in a statement issued minutes before he was to begin presiding over a joint session of Congress to count those votes that it was "my considered judgement that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”
Trump has pressured his vice president to toss electors from battleground states that voted for Biden during the session.
Trump Tells Supporters at DC Rally 'We Will Never Concede'
President Donald Trump is vowing that “we will never concede” as he speaks to supporters shortly before Congress is to convene for a joint session to confirm the Electoral College vote won by President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump took the stage at the Save America rally, which drew thousands of supporters who swamped the nation’s capital as the president’s Republican allies in the House and Senate plan to object to his November election loss to Biden.
Continuing his pressure-campaign against Vice President Mike Pence, Trump told supporters falsely that all Pence has to do to stay in office is send Electoral College votes back to the states to be recertified.
Pence has no such unilateral power under the Constitution and congressional rules that govern the count. It is up to the House and Senate to voice objections, and in any case the states’ electors were chosen in accordance with state law, not fraudulently.
“Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us,” Trump said, “and if he doesn’t it’s a sad day for our country.” Trump said it would take courage for Pence not to contest the results.
'Do It Mike': Trump Pressures Powerless Pence to Overturn Election
President Donald Trump is trying to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to use powers he doesn't have to overturn the will of the voters in a handful of battleground states.
Taking to Twitter, Trump on Wednesday repeated his unfounded assertions that there was widespread election irregularities and fraud and urged Pence to show “extreme courage” when he counts the Electoral College votes and send them back to the states.
"All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!" Trump tweeted.
Pence’s role as presiding officer is largely ceremonial and he has no power to affect the outcome, despite Trump's wishes to the contrary.
Protesters Backing Trump Roll Into Capital to Cheer Him on
President Donald Trump's supporters have descended on the nation’s capital to cheer his baseless claims of election fraud ahead of a congressional vote to affirm Joe Biden's election victory.
The president is expected to personally address his supporters during a Wednesday morning rally on the Ellipse, just south of the White House.
Just blocks from the White House, protesters — many without masks — gathered in Freedom Plaza on Tuesday to decry the vote in the Electoral College. As temperatures dropped to the low 40s and a steady rain swept onto the streets, hundreds remained in the plaza into nightfall.
The protests coincide with Wednesday’s congressional vote expected to certify the Electoral College results, which Trump continues to dispute.
GOP's Biden Vote Revolt Is Atypical Challenge for McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks it’s dangerous for his party to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s election triumph. But some Republicans are charging ahead anyway, and this time McConnell is facing dynamics he can’t fully control.
Despite the Kentucky Republican’s opposition, 13 GOP senators have said they will join scores of their House colleagues Wednesday and object when Congress formally affirms Biden’s Electoral College victory. The effort, certain to fail, has been spurred by the soundly defeated President Donald Trump as an unjustified, last-gasp effort to override the election results, which all 50 states have already certified.
McConnell has warned his colleagues that the showdown is risky because it will force GOP senators, including those in potentially tough 2022 reelections, to decide whether to support or oppose the tweet-happy Trump in a fight they are sure to lose. In mid-December, McConnell privately warned them that pressing the issue would force a “terrible vote,” even as he publicly congratulated the Democrat Biden for his win, ignoring Trump's refusal to concede.
To drive home his views, GOP aides say McConnell plans to be first speaker when the initial objection is raised during Wednesday's joint session of Congress and senators return to their chamber for a two-hour debate and vote. McConnell has also made clear the Senate will meet all night if necessary to handle all the objections, the aides said.
McConnell has actively avoided confrontation with Trump whenever possible, but he is plainly fed up with the Trump chaos. His remarks Wednesday are sure to leave no doubt how seriously he views the vote, which goes to the heart of the orderly transfer of power in American democracy.
But McConnell can't prevent the objections, which are allowed by the Constitution and federal law if one representative and one senator challenge a state's electoral votes. He's also facing overpowering political dynamics, including some senators' expected 2024 presidential ambitions, others' desire to protect themselves from 2022 primaries prompted by an offended Trump, and the temptation to use the fight to raise money and buttress support from Trump's ardent followers.