Republican attempts to contest the results of the election served only to delay the inevitable. Vice President Mike Pence officially pronounced Biden the President-elect and Kamala Harris the Vice President-elect. They will be sworn in and assume office at noon on Jan. 20.
President Trump, after weeks of making baseless claims about election fraud—and inciting the mob of supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, finally promised an orderly transition of power, in a statement released immediately after the results were certified.
The tally tipped the win to Biden and Harris at 3:31 a.m. ET. The counting finally ended at 3:40 a.m.
The final proclamation on what is supposed to be a routine Congressional procedure capped off the most intense day on Capitol Hill in living memory. Shortly after lawmakers gathered in a joint session to certify Biden’s victory Wednesday, Trump supporters who had packed the streets of Washington, D.C., turned violent, breaching police barricades and storming the Capitol building.
One woman was killed by U.S. Capitol police and lawmakers were forced to shelter in place for hours after marauding supporters of the president forced their way into halls of Congress—ransacking offices and carrying off souvenirs, all in plain view of social media, photographers and TV cameras.
For the next several hours, the building was locked down, as lawmakers and staff were evacuated to undisclosed locations. For too many on Capitol Hill, the consequences of the incendiary rhetoric stoked by the president transcended into reality.
President Trump, temporarily banned from firing off tweets after inciting the violent mob, released a statement immediately after the results were certified and pledged an orderly transition of power moving forward—though he said he still disagreed with the outcome.
The violence did not deter a last-ditch effort by a handful of U.S. Senators and half of the GOP caucus in the House to contest the results of the elections in Arizona and Pennsylvania—two states that Biden won by narrow margins. But the number of naysayers in the Senate shrunk by half in the wake of the violence. —Alana Abramson
TIME is tracking all of these developments as they unfold. Updates below.
1:30 a.m.: 1 killed by police, 3 died in medical emergencies during U.S. Capitol siege
U.S. Capitol police shot and killed one protester as she tried to enter the building Wednesday and three other people died from “separate medical emergencies” during the siege on the halls of Congress, according to Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department.
A mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters were able to break through police lines and smash their way into the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon—raising questions about security for the nation’s lawmakers.
Members of Congress have vowed to investigate the security failures, focusing especially on the U.S. Capitol Police—the federal agency of 2,300 that is charged with protecting Congress.
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said in a press conference Wednesday night that his agency, which has jurisdiction over Washington, D.C., worked closely with Capitol Police in planning for Wednesday’s protests.
Contee said a Capitol police officer shot a woman when she tried to enter the Capitol shortly after 2:45 p.m. Wednesday. The woman, whose name has not been released, was taken to a hospital, where she died.
Contee said 14 Metropolitan Police officers were hurt, including one who was seriously injured when he was pulled into a mob of protesters and beaten. He was hospitalized on Wednesday night for treatment.
Metropolitan Police had arrested 52 people as of 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesday—including four for carrying a handgun without a license. The department also recovered two pipe bombs—one at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and the other at the Democratic National Committee.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser instituted a 6 p.m. curfew for the city on Wednesday and declared a public emergency—which she extended for 15 days to last through the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Bowser, at the Wednesday night press conference, blamed Trump for the violence. “To our fellow Americans, I know that I speak for all of us when I say that we saw an unprecedented attack on the American democracy, incited by the United States President, and he must be held accountable,” she said. “His constant and divisive rhetoric led to the abhorrent actions we saw today. And sadly, it led to a loss of life that will forever stain what could have been and should have been a peaceful transfer of power.”
12:45 a.m.: Hawley’s objection to Pennsylvania vote forces more debate in Congress
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, one of the leaders of the futile Republican effort to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, joined 80 members of the House of Representatives in objecting to Pennsylvania’s election result, further dragging out the day.
Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday night, Hawley said violence by the pro-Trump mob had not quelled his concerns about the election in Pennsylvania. “For those who have concerns about what happened in November, this is the appropriate means, this is the lawful place where those objections and concerns can be heard.”
Biden won the state by a narrow 81,000 votes. Federal and state courts have repeatedly ruled there was no evidence of widespread fraud or unlawful activity that would affect the outcome of Pennsylvania’s election.
House lawmakers also filed objections to the slates from Michigan and Georgia, but because no Senator signed, they were counted as certified.
Since Hawley has objected to Pennsylvania, the joint session of Congress will break to debate and vote on the objections separately.
Hawley’s forfeited his speaking time and the Senate quickly moved to vote on the objection. That vote failed by a margin of 92-7.
The House, where a larger portion of Republicans object to the certification of the Pennsylvania result, still had to debate and vote on the issue.
11:30 p.m.: Congress convenes for joint session to confirm election results
The House and Senate convened for a joint session to resume the process of certifying the results of the 2020 election after a mob of violent insurrectionists stormed the Capitol.
Earlier, the Senate and House of Representatives met separately to finish debating the objections filed to Arizona’s slate of electors. Both chambers voted to reject the objection, though 121 House Republicans voted to uphold the attempt to overturn Biden’s win in Arizona. In comparison, just six Republican Senators supported the move.
No members of Senate Republican leadership voted for the objection; in the House, the top two Republicans—Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise—supported it.
9:15 p.m.: Kelly Loeffler will not challenge Georgia certification
Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler announced Wednesday night that she was dropping her challenge to the certification of Georgia’s electoral college votes for Joe Biden following the violence on Capitol Hill.
Loeffler, who lost her reelection campaign to Rev. Raphael Warnock early Wednesday, joined Republican colleagues including Indiana Sen. Mike Braun and Montana Sen. Steve Daines in changing course.
In brief remarks on the Senate floor, Loeffler said she had intended to object this morning, but changed course after the day’s events. “I cannot in good conscience object to the certification of these electors,” she said. “The violence, the lawlessness and siege of the halls of Congress are abhorrent and stand as a direct attack on what my objection was intended.”
Loeffler, who had closely aligned herself with Trump ahead of her Senate runoff on Tuesday, said she still believes there were “serious irregularities” in the November election, without providing any evidence. Like Pence and McConnell, she did not mention the President at all in her remarks.
8:10 p.m. The Senate reconvenes
Senators returned to the chamber Wednesday to finish debating written objections to Arizona’s electoral slate. Pence, presiding solemnly, rebuked those who tried to violently undermine the Democratic process. “To those who wreaked havoc, you did not win,” he said. He received a thunderous round of applause. He did not mention Trump’s name.
7:54 p.m. Some Republican objectors consider changing course
As the full implications of the violent day came into focus, some Republican Senators indicated they would switch their positions and certify all electoral votes for Biden. “We must restore confidence in our electoral process,” said Montana Sen. Steve Daines.
“Today changed things drastically,” said Indiana Sen. Mike Braun, who had posted a photograph on Twitter earlier in the day signing his objection to Arizona’s slate. Although Braun did not specifically say he would support other challenges, he did note that “whatever point you made before that should suffice.”
It was unclear if these sentiments extended to all of the lawmakers who planned to raise objections. Aides for Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley declined to comment.
7:00 p.m. Twitter removes Trump’s tweets
In an unprecedented move, Twitter on Wednesday afternoon removed three of Trump’s tweets and locked his account for 12 hours. In the tweets, he repeated false claims of voter fraud. They had been sent while his supporters were still rioting in the U.S. Capitol and the streets of D.C., and were seen as justifying the violence rather than condemning it. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube also removed a video in which Trump told the mob to go home but also seemed to praise them.
“This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video,” Facebook’s VP of Integrity Guy Rosen said in a tweet. “We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”
6:30 p.m. Congress will continue counting Electoral College votes tonight
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to her colleagues that the joint session of Congress would continue tonight once it is safe, and that members should remain at the Capitol for the time being. Pelosi said she and her top deputies, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, reached the decision after calling the Pentagon, the Department of Justice and Vice President Pence.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
It is unclear exactly when the session will resume. — A.A.
6:21 p.m. Woman dies after being shot at the Capitol
A woman who was shot at the Capitol earlier on Wednesday has died, a spokesperson for Washington D.C’s Metropolitan Police Department has confirmed. This is the only known fatality at the time. No other information was immediately provided.
5:30 p.m. The Capitol is secured
Lawmakers told reporters they were eager to complete the proceedings certifying states’ Electoral College slates as soon as it’s safe. “This is our responsibility to fulfill this day and so we’re gonna try to do everything we can to do our jobs here as soon as it’s safe,” Rep. Pete Aguilar told one reporter. Sen. Joe Manchin said he would not be deterred by “thugs.”
It remains unclear when lawmakers will resume their duties. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has imposed a city-wide 6 p.m. curfew. An announcement at the Capitol says that anyone who has not left the premises by 6 pm will be arrested. — A.A.
4:55 p.m. Foreign powers call on Trump to restore peace
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a longtime Trump ally, denounced the “disgraceful scenes in U.S. Congress,” using Trump’s chosen medium of Twitter to call for “a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.” Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also called on Trump and his supporters to “finally accept the decision of American voters and stop trampling democracy,” adding that the “disdain for democratic institutions is devastating.”
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also tweeted “the violent acts against American institutions are a grave attack against democracy. I condemn them. The American people’s will and vote must be respected.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg echoed that message, tweeting “Shocking scenes in Washington, D.C. The outcome of this democratic election must be respected.” — Kim Dozier
4:17 p.m. Trump tweets a conflicting video message
The President calls on protesters at the Capitol to go home, but simultaneously reiterates his baseless claim that the election was fraudulent, stoking the rioters’ grievances.
“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us,” Trump said. “But you have to go home now,” he continued. “We have to have peace. We have to have law and order.” — Tessa Berenson
4:06 p.m. Trump is “culpable for this siege”
In among the strongest condemnations from fellow Republicans, Trump’s former Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert tweeted that the President “undermined American democracy baselessly for months.”
“As a result,” Bossert added, “he’s culpable for this siege, and an utter disgrace.”
4:05 p.m. Biden delivers a speech calling the violence “an assault on the citadel of liberty”
In brief remarks, Biden called on Trump to “step up,” urging him to “go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.”
“At this hour, our democracy is under an unprecedented assault, unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times,” he said, adding, “”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 expressed dismay and surprise at the breach of the Capitol building, saying he was “genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation, so long the beacon of light and hope for democracy has come to such a dark moment.”
“Today’s reminder is a painful one,” he said. “Democracy is fragile.”
In urging an end to the violence, Biden returned to the themes of national unity that have animated his campaign and helped him capture the Presidency from Trump, saying that the “work of the next four years must be the restoration of democracy, of decency honor and respect, the rule of law,” he said. He ended by quoting Lincoln: “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.” — Charlotte Alter
3:59 p.m. Democratic Leadership calls on Trump to stop his supporters
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement Wednesday afternoon requesting that Trump demand all protesters “leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately.” Trump has declined to do so. — A.A. and T.B.
3:50 An explosive device is found at the Republican National Committee
The New York Times reported that a pipe bomb was found, and subsequently destroyed by a bomb squad, at the RNC in Washington. The nearby Democratic National Committee was evacuated.
3:40 p.m. At least person confirmed injured
The Associated Press reported that one person was injured, although no subsequent details were available. The U.S. Capitol Police did not respond to request for independent confirmation. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate, as well as staffers and reporters, were evacuated from the respective floors, and are sheltering in undisclosed locations. — A.A.
3:36 p.m. National Guard is deployed after significant delay
“The D.C. Guard has been mobilized to provide support to federal law enforcement in the District,” said Jonathan Hoffman, Pentagon spokesman. “Acting Secretary Miller has been in contact with Congressional leadership, and Secretary McCarthy has been working with the D.C. government. The law enforcement response will be led by the Department of Justice.”
The National Guard couldn’t be mobilized to the Capitol quicker because they weren’t authorized under initial agreement with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, according to a defense official. City authorities wanted non-military response after this summer’s clashes with federal officers resulted in violence and bloodshed.
The troops’ mission, named Task Force Guardian, was to set up posts at several Metro train stations and provide back up to police with street closures. “Under these authorities, the Guard was essentially acting like traffic cops,” the official said.
Instead of wearing usual camouflage bulletproof vests and carrying rifles, Guard members, who were unarmed, each wore a black “identification vest” featuring the troops’ name, rank and service. It is the traditional uniform worn during domestic support operations, including presidential inaugurations, the 4th of July celebration and other events. — W.J. Hennigan
3:30 p.m. Former White House officials call on Trump to stop the violence
Multiple former White House officials asked Trump to do more to stop his supporters from continuing to engage in violence at the Capitol. Trump tweeted twice that his supporters on the Hill should remain “peaceful,” but he did not tell them to disperse or vacate the Capitol.
“Today’s violence and lawlessness has to stop, immediately,” tweeted Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton. “To begin repairing the damage, Donald Trump should acknowledge what he knows to be true: he lost the 2020 election, and Joseph Biden is the President-elect.”
“The President’s tweet is not enough,” tweeted Trump’s former acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. “He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home.”
“President Donald J. Trump and other Republican leaders should immediately denounce today’s illegal action as an affront to the American Experiment of self government and take into account the power their words have to heal or harm our Republic,” wrote Trump’s former Assistant Press Secretary Austin Cantrell. — T.B.
2:50 p.m. D.C. Mayor issues emergency curfew
Mayor Muriel Bowser issues a city-wide curfew from 6 p.m. Jan. 6 through 6 a.m. Jan. 7.
2:35 p.m. All debate suspended, lawmakers evacuated
All procedural debates are paused as lawmakers and staff shelter in place. Trump supporters continued to enter the Capitol building. Police, donning riot gear, are overwhelmed.
Lawmakers were evacuated from the House floor. — A.A.
2:24 p.m. Trump criticizes Pence for refusing to back Republican objections
2:15 p.m. Trump supporters turn violent, breach police barricades, forcibly enter the Capitol
Just as the chambers recess, footage showed Trump supporters violently clashing with police, scaling the walls, gathering on the terraces, and entering the building.
The Capitol is locked down, lawmakers are asked to shelter in space, and top lawmakers were escorted off the floor.
“We’re seeing protesters assaulting Capitol Police,” tweeted Rep. Nancy Mace, a newly-minted Republican lawmaker from South Carolina. “This is wrong. This is not who we are. I’m heartbroken for our nation today.” — A.A.
2:00 p.m. House debate over Arizona reflects broader disagreement
Objections over Arizona’s electoral slate were a microcosm of the debate that has ensued since Election Day. Republicans alleged that voting irregularities fueled Biden’s victory, even though such claims were repeatedly debunked by election officials and by judges in court challenges.
Democrats, meanwhile, argued in soaring language that the Republicans’ objections undermined the American democracy and affirmed that the election was over.
“Our job is not to replace the judgment made by the American people with our own and yet that’s precisely what so many of my House and Senate republican colleagues ask this body to do: to substitute their judgment for the express will of the American people,” said Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado. — A.A. and Sanya Mansoor
1:50 p.m. Cruz calls for 10-day “emergency audit” of election results
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, citing polls showing 39% of Americans who say the election was rigged, argues that Congress must launch a 10-day emergency audit of the allegations of electoral fraud. He argued that Democrats should welcome such an audit if there is no evidence to back these allegations.
Cruz did not mention the Nov. 12 federal government statement affirming that this election was the “most secure in U.S. history.” — A.A.
1:30 p.m. McConnell says rejecting Biden’s win amounts to a “death spiral” for American democracy
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave his strongest rebuke yet of his colleagues’ intent to challenge Biden’s victory, alleging that it would permanently damage the country’s democratic ideals. “We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids,” he said. “Voters, courts and the states have all spoken. If we overrule them we could damage our republic forever.”
As he spoke, footage of Trump supporters trying to break into the U.S. capitol were circulating on the internet, and lawmakers were tweeting that they were forced to evacuate their office buildings due to a threat. —A.A.
1:15 p.m. Republicans rise objections to electoral slate in Arizona
As expected, Republicans filed written objections to Arizona’s electoral votes. Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar filed the objection on behalf of sixty of his colleagues in the House of Representatives. He was joined by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
The Senate and House then broke up to debate the objections separately, as challengers argue for their position. While each chamber is technically allotted up to two hours of debate, lawmakers expect the sessions to take as long as four hours. —A.A.
12:53 p.m. Pence says he won’t challenge Biden’s victory
Just minutes before Congress convened for the joint session he will preside over, Pence officially announced that he would not challenge Biden’s Electoral College victory. “It is my considered judgement,” he wrote in a letter to Congress, “that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority from determining which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”
In recent days, Pence has been under tremendous pressure from Trump, who has publicly urged him to defy the Constitution and reject states’ electoral slates that would put Biden’s tally over the required 270 Electoral College votes. Under the Constitution, Pence’s role in this process is largely ceremonial. He opens the envelopes containing the slates of electors from each state and pronounces the victor. —A.A.
11:57 a.m. Trump rallies his supporters
Trump takes the stage at a rally at the Ellipse in Washington, DC. Speaking to tens of thousands of supporters, he claims baselessly that he won the 2020 Election and calls on Vice President Mike Pence, who as President of the Senate will preside over today’s joint session of Congress, to impede Congressional certification of Biden’s win.
“If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” Trump said, erroneously. Pence does not have the unilateral power to prevent certification.
Trump also threatened to mount primary challenges against Republican lawmakers who don’t “fight” to prevent the certification of Biden’s victory. “History is going to be made,” Trump said. “We’re going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders, or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves.” —T.B.
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