Pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday during a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Congress returned later Wednesday after the Capitol was cleared by law enforcement and have now formally certified Biden’s election victory.
Here are the latest developments, including a pledge from the U.S. president — who has for months refused to concede and made baseless allegations of voter fraud — promising an “orderly transition” on Jan. 20.
3:55 a.m. ET: U.S. President Donald Trump now says there “will be an orderly transition on January 20th” after Congress concluded the electoral vote count certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and after a day of violence when pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Trump said in a statement tweeted by his social media director Dan Scavino, “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.”
He adds: “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.”
Trump’s account is currently locked by Twitter.
Trump has spent the last two months refusing to concede the election and making baseless allegations of mass voter fraud that have been rejected by dozens of courts and Republican officials, including his former attorney general.
Vice-President Mike Pence presided over the formal session that ended early Thursday morning tallying the electoral college vote.
3:41 a.m. ET: U.S. Congress has formally validated Joe Biden’s presidential election victory on a day that saw a time-honoured ceremony become a nightmare of political terror.
The House and Senate certified the Democrat’s electoral college win early Thursday after a violent throng of pro-Trump rioters spent hours Wednesday running rampant through the Capitol. A woman was fatally shot, windows were bashed and the mob forced shaken lawmakers and aides to flee the building, shielded by Capitol Police.
The rampage began shortly after President Donald Trump repeated his unfounded claims of election fraud to thousands of rallying demonstrators he’d invited to Washington. Many then surged to the Capitol after he incited them to go there as lawmakers debated the electoral votes.
More than six hours after the violence erupted, lawmakers resumed their session.
Thirteen Republican senators and dozens of Republican representatives had planned to force debate and votes on perhaps six different states’ votes. The assault on the Capitol made some Republicans squeamish about trying to overturn Biden’s win, and challenges were lodged only against Arizona and Pennsylvania. Both efforts lost overwhelmingly.
Biden defeated Trump by 306-232 electoral votes and will be inaugurated Jan. 20.
WATCH | See how the siege on the U.S. Capitol unfolded:
3:25 a.m. ET: Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is defending his objection to the Electoral College results as “the right thing to do.” The Texas senator condemned the violence that erupted as supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in an extraordinary attack over the election outcome.
Cruz led the first challenge to Joe Biden’s defeat of President Donald Trump by objecting to Arizona’s results. He sought to have Congress launch a commission to investigate the election. His effort was roundly defeated in the House and Senate.
Cruz said he was confident the country will have a “peaceful and orderly transition of power.”
3:10 a.m. ET: The House has joined the Senate in turning aside Republican objections to Pennsylvania’s electoral vote for president-elect Joe Biden. Lawmakers in the House voted 282-138 against the objection as the counting of Electoral College votes continued into the early hours of Thursday morning. The Senate shut down the same objection 92-7 just after midnight, and unlike the House, declined to debate before voting.
After a long day dominated by pro-Trump rioters’ deadly storming of the Capitol, it was the second state for which a group of Republicans tried and failed to reverse the will of voters. Some Republican lawmakers have backed President Donald Trump’s bogus claims that the election was fraudulent.
Those objecting to Pennsylvania’s votes included 80 House Republicans and Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, who is considered a potential 2024 presidential contender.
2:20 a.m. ET: A small group of House lawmakers confronted each other early Thursday morning as the congressional count of electoral votes stretched into the wee hours and a Pennsylvania Democrat charged that Republicans had been telling “lies” about his state’s votes.
Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Republican from Virginia., objected after Rep. Conor Lamb, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, said a breach of the Capitol by an angry mob earlier in the day was “inspired by lies, the same lies you are hearing in this room tonight.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shot down the objection, but a few minutes later Republicans and Democrats streamed to the middle aisle, with around a dozen lawmakers getting close to each other and arguing. But the group quickly broke up when Pelosi called for order on the floor.
President Donald Trump has falsely claimed there was widespread fraud in Pennsylvania and other states and Republicans have echoed those claims as they have challenged electoral votes.
WATCH | What happens to Trumpism after Trump?
12:55 a.m. ET: The Senate has quickly killed Republican objections to Pennsylvania’s electoral vote for President-elect Joe Biden.
Senators voted 92-7 after midnight to derail the GOP attempt to overturn Pennsylvania’s support for the Democrat.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he believes no other states’ votes will be challenged. That means Congress’ formal certification of Biden’s victory could finish quickly once the House votes on the Pennsylvania challenge.
The Senate rejected the effort to cancel Pennsylvania’s votes without any debate.
Those objecting to Pennsylvania’s votes included 80 House Republicans and Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley, who is considered a potential 2024 presidential contender.
12:15 a.m. ET: Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri have objected to the counting of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, triggering up to two hours of debate in the House and Senate.
The objections come 11 hours after the congressional count to confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory began, and after lawmakers had to evacuate both chambers for several hours to escape a mob that had violently breached the Capitol.
Hawley said last week that he would object to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, saying Congress should investigate voter fraud. President Donald Trump has falsely said since his defeat that there was widespread fraud in the election.
Biden won Pennsylvania by just over 80,000 votes. Since the Nov. 3 election, Trump and his allies filed at least a half-dozen lawsuits challenging Biden’s win on various grounds, including that many or all of the state’s mail-in ballots were illegal.
The lawsuits failed as judge after judge found no violation of state law or constitutional rights, or no grounds to grant an immediate halt to certifying the election.
11:20 p.m. ET Wednesday: The House has voted overwhelmingly to reject an objection to president-elect Joe Biden’s win in Arizona, joining the Senate in upholding the results of the election there.
The objection failed 303-121 on Wednesday night, with only Republicans voting in support.
Earlier Wednesday, supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol, forcing a lockdown of the lawmakers and staff inside. Trump has claimed widespread voter fraud to explain away his defeat to Biden, though election officials have said there wasn’t any.
Now that Arizona is out of the way, Congress will reconvene as the joint session and make its way through the rest of the states that have objections.
11:10 p.m. ET Wednesday: 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 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 hours long 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.