- Several members of Congress have pledged to complete the 2020 presidential certification after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol.
- “Whatever it takes. These thugs are not running us off,” Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said on Wednesday, per Politico.
- The electoral process, which would confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s 2020 victory, began around 1 p.m. ET but was abruptly halted after mobs breached the Capitol grounds.
- The Capitol went into lockdown, and lawmakers were photographed huddled under chairs and in gas masks.
- Congress members, reporters, and staff were later evacuated as the demonstrators placed themselves outside of the House and Senate chambers.
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Several members of Congress have vowed to complete the presidential election certification after supporters of President Donald Trump violently clashed with police and stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday.
“Whatever it takes. These thugs are not running us off,” Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said, per Politico.
Congress convened around 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday to tally the Electoral College votes, a process that would confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. The joint session was abruptly halted for hours after mobs breached the Capitol grounds. The Capitol went into lockdown, and lawmakers were photographed huddled under chairs and in gas masks, before being evacuated from the House and Senate chambers when demonstrators placed themselves outside the doors.
Democratic senators reported that Hill staffers managed to save the electoral ballots shortly before they evacuated.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the siege “a shameful assault” on American democracy and said the electoral count will proceed on Wednesday night.
“We always knew this responsibility would take us into the night. The night may still be long but we are hopeful for a shorter agenda, but our purpose will be accomplished,” Pelosi said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the process will continue at 8 p.m. ET, according to CNN.
The House’s chief law enforcement officer, the Sergeant at Arms, announced a little after 5:30 p.m. that the Capitol had been secured, according to The Huffington Post. Capitol Police, joined by the Metropolitan Police Department and National Guard troops of DC and Virginia, helped secure the building.
—Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) January 6, 2021
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who issued a harsh rebuke of President Donald Trump’s baseless election claims on the Senate floor earlier on Wednesday, has informed lawmakers that they should return to the chamber and “project strength after today’s catastrophe,” The Washington Post reported.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham echoed the calls on Twitter, saying: “The U.S. Senate must reconvene today and finish our constitutional work.”
He also called for “federal officials to form task force to identify those who breached the Capitol, vandalized our national institutions, and expect prosecutions to the fullest extent of the law.”
“We must not be intimidated or prevented from fulfilling our constitutional duty,” GOP Sen. Mitt Romney tweeted. “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.”
The rioters, donned in pro-Trump gear and several waving confederate flags, shattered windows, fought with police, entered the Capitol chambers, broke into lawmakers’ offices, stole memorabilia, and left threatening messages during the breach.
Lawmakers began condemning the violence on Twitter, while Trump neglected to offer a strong statement to end the protests. He wrote two tweets calling for supporters to “stay peaceful.”
—Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) January 6, 2021
The president, who has still refused to acknowledge his election defeat, encouraged his supporters to come to the nation’s capital on the same day of the vote certification in a show of protest.
Biden appeared on national television and urged Trump to “defend the Constitution” and demand an end to the chaos. Trump then posted a video online asking his supporters to “go home” while also telling them that they’re “special” and repeating his unfounded allegations against the election. Twitter and Facebook have taken down the video.
The turmoil appears to be a culmination of Trump falsely declaring for weeks that the election was rigged and mounting over 40 legal challenges to overturn the results, all of which were unsuccessful.
Tensions over the election in Washington, DC, intensified last week after dozens of GOP House members and at least 13 Republican senators, including Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, announced plans to object to the certification process. Critics called the move a last-ditch effort to challenge the outcome, though it would not have changed the election results.
“We also knew that we would be a part of history in a positive way, today, despite ill-founded objections to the Electoral College vote,” Pelosi said on Wednesday evening. “We now will be part of history, as such a shameful picture of our country was put out to the world, instigated at the highest level.”