By Melissa Quinn, Grace Segers, Kathryn Watson, Stefan Becket, Audrey McNamara, Caroline Linton

Updated on: January 7, 2021 / 7:06 AM
/ CBS NEWS

Washington —Vice President Mike Pence announced just after 3:40 a.m. Thursday that President-elect Joe Biden had won the presidency after Congress completed the counting of the Electoral College votes. What was largely seen as a perfunctory last step before Mr. Biden’s inauguration had turned into a day of chaos after an angry mob of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to halt the process. 

Congress had to recess for nearly six hours after the angry mob of President Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving four people dead in the melee and sending members of Congress fleeing from the floor during what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had earlier branded “the most important vote I’ve ever cast.”

Earlier Wednesday, President Trump had encouraged his supporters to “walk over” to the U.S. Capitol as Congress counted the Electoral College votes, the largely ceremonial final step affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Although Mr. Trump has lately been insisting Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to overturn the election results, Pence defied Mr. Trump on Wednesday and issued a lengthy statement saying he could not change the outcome. 

Chaos erupted at the U.S. Capitol a few hours later as an angry mob of rioters — many waving Trump flags or carrying Trump gear — breached the building. 

D.C. Metro police said one woman was shot and killed by police and three people died from medical emergencies. More than 52 people were arrested, with 47 of those arrested for curfew violations. 

Mr. Biden gave a speech in Delaware denouncing the violence and called on Mr. Trump to address the nation. Mr. Trump then posted a one-minute video to Twitter, telling the rioters they are “special” but they “need to go home now.”

Congress reconvened nearly six hours later after leaving the floor, taking up where it had left off in hearing the objection from Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Paul Gosar to Arizona’s electoral results. The Senate rejected the objection 93-6, and the House rejected it 303-121. 

Despite calls from more than a dozen senators who said they would support objections to electoral results in key states, no senators signed onto House members’ objections to the results in Michigan and Nevada.

But Senator Josh Hawley followed through on his promise to object to Pennsylvania’s results. The Senate rejected it 92-7, leaving the House to debate it for two hours before it was rejected after 3 a.m. 

Since none of these objections have a majority, they had no chance of succeeding. Even if there was a majority on any of the objections, it would not change the outcome of the election. Mr. Biden will be sworn in on January 20.

President Trump issued a statement early Thursday after Congress affirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and it was announced by Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Trump said that while he “totally disagrees with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.” Mr. Trump also vowed to keep fighting to make America great again.

The statement was tweeted by White House senior official Dan Scanvio, since Mr. Trump has been restricted from Twitter after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. 

There were a number of resignations among White House staff on Wednesday, including deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger and first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham. Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence and some of President Trump’s own Cabinet members, have been whispering about whether to move forward with formal proceedings to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him from office days before his term ends. 

At 3:33 a.m., Mr. Biden received 270 electoral votes. At 3:39, the count was finished. Klobuchar read the results – Mr. Biden’s victory – to a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle. 

The final results are 306-232 for Biden. Vice President Mike Pence completed his duties and announced Mr. Biden as the winner just after 3:40 a.m. 

In a 282-138 vote, the House rejected the objection to Pennsylvania’s vote count. That means 138 Republicans voted to object to the Pennsylvania results, even more than objected to Arizona’s results (121). 

Senator Ted Cruz, one of the few Republican senators to support objecting to the election results in Arizona and in Pennsylvania, said in a statement early Thursday morning that he 

Cruz acknowledged disappointment that Congress had not voted to appoint an electoral commission, but appeared ready to take the next step in the transition process.

“I very much wish Congress had not set aside these concerns, but I respect the position each of my colleagues took. Debate in the two houses of Congress is the proper way to resolve our political differences, not through violent attacks,” Cruz said. “Now, Congress must fulfill our constitutional responsibility to complete the Electoral College certification process. We must, and I am confident we will, have a peaceful and orderly transition of power, pursuant to the Constitution.”

Chaos briefly broke out when Democratic Congressman Conor Lamb said Republicans had lied about the election. A Republican asked for Lamb’s words to be stricken from the record. After some back and forth, there was a brief confrontation in the middle of the aisle. GOP Representative Andy Harris and Democrat Representative Colin Allred appeared to be on the brink of a fistfight.

“These objections don’t deserve an ounce of respect. Not an ounce,” Lamb said in his brief speech, which received applause from Democrats.

GOP Representative Jeff Van Drew, a former Democrat, then castigated Democrats for accusing Republicans of lying, to applause from the GOP side of the aisle.

The Capitol police early Thursday gave the all clear after the “external security threat incident located within the Capitol Complex.”

The U.S. Capitol was breached by an angry mob of rioters Wednesday, sending members of Congress fleeing and delaying the Electoral College count. 

The Senate rejected the objection to Pennsylvania’s vote in a 92-7 vote. Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Cynthia Lummis, Roger Marshall, Rick Scott and Tommy Tuberville voted in favor of the objection, which Hawley had signed onto.

GOP Senator Mike Lee said “hell no” when called on, and then laughed sheepishly. Montana Democratic Senator Tester didn’t hear his name called, and only responded after Mark Warner called “Tester!” 

 Republican Senator Josh Hawley and a number of Republican members of the House have objected to the vote count in Pennsylvania, halting the joint session of Congress as the House and Senate return to their respective chambers. 

Now, members have opportunities to give five-minute speeches. The joint session adjourned for up to two hours of debate before voting on the objection.

Former Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas joined “Red and Blue” to discuss the violent pro-Trump protesters who stormed Capitol Hill, and what he’d like to see from his party and the president going forward.  

No senators signed on to join the 70 House members who objected to Michigan’s results, meaning the attempt failed. 

Newly minted Congresswoman Marjorie Greene announced 70 House votes in protest but admitted that she lacked a senator’s signature to accompany the House effort. 

Moments later, no senator signed on to House Republicans’ objections to the results in Nevada. That move, too, failed. 

No Senators raised objections to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia, one of the several states that President Trump had targeted. Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia had said she planned to object to her state’s results, but she withdrew her objection earlier after protesters seized the U.S. Capitol earlier Wednesday. 

Vice President Mike Pence said the objections had been withdrawn. Objections in the House cannot move forward without a signature from a senator. 

The joint session of Congress reconvened shortly after 11:30 p.m., with senators filtering back into the House chamber. Lawmakers will now continue the tally of Electoral College votes.

The timing of the next few hours is dependent on whether a senator joins House Republicans in challenging the results in other states. If so, then both chambers will once again have to go into session for two hours of debate before another vote on the objections.

Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida was booed on the House floor on Wednesday night when he said “some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters — they were masquerading as Trump supporters.” 

The Republican congressman defended President Trump, claiming that while members of Congress may “moan and groan,” Mr. Trump was “far more explicit about his calls for peace than some of the BLM and left-winged rioters were this summer when we saw violence across this nation.”

Gaetz was cheered for those comments, but those cheers turned to boos when he alleged without evidence that the people who stormed the Capitol were members of “antifa” who were “masquerading as Trump supporters.” 

Mr. Trump spoke to supporters before the Capitol was under siege, telling his supporters to “walk down to the Capitol” and “you’ll never take back our country with weakness.” Many of the rioters at the Capitol waved Trump flags and called for the election results to be overturned for him. 

In the House, 121 Republicans voted to throw out Arizona’s electors’ votes for President-elect Joe Biden. That’s well over half of the Republicans in the House. 

GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise were among those voting to object. 

Only 83 House Republicans did not object to approving Arizona’s results. The objection was ultimately defeated 121-303.  

Four people died during the violent protest at the Capitol, according to Metro D.C. police. One woman was shot by police, and three others died as a result of medical emergencies. 

So far, more than 52 people have been arrested. Of those, 47 were related to curfew violations. 

Law enforcement officials said they also found two pipe bombs, one at the Republican National Committee and one at the Democratic National Committee. A molotov cocktail was also found not far from the Capitol. 

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has extended the city’s public emergency order for a total of 15 days. In announcing the extension, Bowser wrote that some people who breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday are “expected to continue their violent protests through the inauguration” on January 20. 

“Today, First Amendment protests turned violent. Many persons came to the District armed and for the purpose of engaging in violence and destruction and have engaged in violence and destruction,” Bowser said in a statement. “They have fired chemical irritants, bricks, bottles, and guns. They have breached the security of the Capitol and their destructive and riotous behavior has the potential to spread beyond the Capitol. Their motivation is ongoing.” 

A curfew went into effect in the capital city at 6 p.m. ET, and will remain in place through 6 a.m. Thursday.

After President Trump whipped up his supporters with falsehoods about the election he claims was stolen from him and called on them to fight for his presidency at the Capitol on Wednesday — at one point urging his supporters to go to the Capitol to challenge “weak” Republicans including Vice President Mike Pence —  some of Mr. Trump’s own Cabinet members have been whispering about whether to move forward with formal proceedings to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him from office days before his term ends. 

These conversations are in early stages and as of this writing have not been formally presented to Vice President Pence. There are unconfirmed reports that some Cabinet members are also considering resignation.

Because Pence has been presiding over the joint session of Congress to affirm the outcome of the presidential election, he has not had much recent contact with the other 15 members of the Cabinet, although he did speak with Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley about activating National Guard troops to staff the protests in Washington, D.C. It was Pence and not Mr. Trump who activated those troops.

National Security Adviser Ambassador Robert O’Brien spent the early part of the day in Miami with a routine visit to SOUTHCOM but made clear in a series of subsequent statements that he was in contact with both Senate leaders and the vice president. He praised Pence for exhibiting courage in the face of today’s violence and said he was “proud to serve with him.”

After world leaders from dictatorships and democracies issued scathing statements about what they were witnessing in the seat of power of the world’s most powerful democracy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued three tweets regarding the violence but did not mention the president by name nor what incited the acts.

But violence, putting at risk the safety of others including those tasked with providing security for all of us, is intolerable both at home and abroad. Let us swiftly bring justice to the criminals who engaged in this rioting.

America is better than what we saw today at a place where I served as a member of Congress and saw firsthand democracy at its best.

The Senate overwhelmingly rejected the objection to the Electoral College votes from Arizona, made by Gosar and Cruz, in a 6-93 vote. 

A simple majority was needed to sustain the objection. Cruz, Hawley, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Roger Marshall of Kansas and Tommy Tuberville  of Alabama, all Republicans, voted to reject Arizona’s electoral votes.

The Senate completed its maximum two hours of debate just before 10 p.m., after proceedings were interrupted for several hours when the violent mob of Mr. Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol building. 

Both chambers are needed to sustain an objection, meaning it will fail and Arizona’s results will stand.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and one of the president’s most stalwart allies, reiterated his opposition to rejecting states’ electoral votes, saying Republican efforts to overrule the will of the people fly in the face of democracy.

“i think it’s a uniquely bad idea to delay this election. Trump and I, we had a hell of a journey. I hate it being this way. I hate it being this way,” he said. “All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough.”

“I don’t buy this. Enough’s enough. We’ve got to end it,” Graham continued. “Vice President Pence, what they are asking you to do you won’t do because you can’t … If you’re a conservative, this is the most offensive concept in the world, that a single person could disenfranchise 155 million people.”

Graham concluded by saying that “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will be the president and vice president of the United States on January the 20th,” earning applause from his colleagues.

Senator Mitt Romney thanked his Republican colleagues who have decided against objecting to state election results, accusing those who continue to challenge those results of being “complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.” 

“For any who remain insistent on an audit in order to satisfy the many people who believe that the election was stolen, I’d offer this perspective — no congressional audit is ever going to convince these voters, particularly when the president will continue to say that the election was stolen. The best way we could show respect for the voters who were upset is by telling them the truth!” Romney said, eliciting sustained applause in the Senate chamber.

“That’s the burden, that’s the duty of leadership. The truth is that President-elect Biden won the election. President Trump lost. I’ve had that experience myself. It’s no fun,” said Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.

Senator Josh Hawley, who intended to object to the electoral votes for Mr. Biden from Pennsylvania, did not indicate whether he intends to proceed with his challenge, but raised concerns with the state’s policies regarding mail-in ballots during debate on Arizona’s results.

“I submit to my colleagues that what we’re doing here tonight is actually very important, because for those who have concerns about the integrity of the election, those who have concerns about what happened in November, this is the appropriate means, this is the lawful place where those objections and concerns should be heard. This is the forum that the law provides for,” he said.

Hawley called on the Senate to take “affirmative action” to address concerns about election irregularities and enact election security reform.

“Violence is not how you achieve change,” he said. “Violence is not how you achieve something better.

 White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthew has resigned, sources familiar with her resignation confirm to CBS News. White House social secretary Rickie Niceta has also resigned, two sources said. 

The immediate departures come hours after violent protesters stormed the Capitol, and the president failed to condemn the riots. Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s chief of staff, also resigned on Wednesday.

Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia announced on the Senate floor she will not object to the counting of electoral votes after initially planning to do so, citing the assault on the U.S. Capitol.

“The events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider and I cannot now in good conscience object to the certification of these electors,” Loeffler said. “The violence, the lawlessness and siege of the halls of Congress are abhorrent and stand as a direct attack on the very institution my objection was intended to protect — the sanctity of the American democratic process.”

“There is no excuse for the events that took place in these chambers today, and I pray that America never suffers such a dark day again,” she said, garnering applause from her fellow Republicans as she concluded her remarks.

CBS News projected earlier Wednesday that Democrat Raphael Warnock defeated Loeffler in the runoff election for the Senate in Georgia.

Republican Senator James Lankford said that an election audit sought by a group of 11 GOP senators, including himself, is now off the table after rioters stormed the Capitol.

“Obviously the commission that we had asked for is not going to happen at this point. And I understand that. And we’re headed towards, tonight, towards the certification of Joe Biden to be the president,” Lankford said on the Senate floor Wednesday night.

Lankford was part of a coalition of senators, led by Senator Ted Cruz, who vowed to reject the Electoral College tallies unless Congress launched a commission to immediately conduct an audit of the election results. 

Earlier in the day, the Oklahoma Republican was speaking on the floor when an aide was heard telling him, “Protesters are in the building.” More than six hours later, Lankford concluded his interrupted time by calling for peace.

“We will work together in this body to be able to set a peaceful example for the days ahead,” he said.

The Senate chamber was abuzz with conversation before Pence entered. Ted Cruz flittered between senators, chatting first with Steve Daines, then Ron Johnson. Kelly Loeffler — who just lost her race — had a brief discussion with McConnell. The mood was one of almost palpable relief.

But as soon as Pence hit the gavel, there was silence. There was no fidgeting from senators, even some of the clearly skeptical Democrats. The atmosphere was somber and heavy, weighted down with knowledge that today would not be soon forgotten. In a rare show of bipartisanship, both Democrats and Republicans gave Pence a standing ovation, although Democrats stood maybe a millisecond after Republicans.

That somber mood continued through speeches by McConnell and Schumer. Interestingly, McConnell appeared to largely be addressing Republicans, particularly when talking about how thugs will not prevent the Senate from doing its duty. 

Schumer also appeared to be addressing Republicans in his speech. When he condemned Mr. Trump, John Cornyn shot a look at Lindsey Graham, who shook his head.

When James Lankford stood to resume his remarks, which were interrupted when the Senate abruptly recessed in the afternoon, the severe atmosphere had mostly lifted. Senators on both sides of the aisle had started to become restless again, looking at their phones more intently.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the violent assault on the Capitol will “be a stain on our country.”

Schumer mourned the loss of one woman who lost her life during the violent protests, and praised the police for their efforts. 

“These images were projected to the world,” Schumer said. “Foreign embassies cabled their home capitals to report the harrowing scenes at the very heart of our democracy. This will be a stain on our country, not so easily washed away.”

“They must and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, hopefully by this administration. If not, certainly by the next. They should be provided no leniency,” Schumer said. 

“This president bears a great deal of the blame. This mob was in good part President Trump’s doing, incited by his words, his lies,” Schumer said. 

“January 6th will go down as one of the darkest days in recent American history,” Schumer said. 

Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell described those who breached the Capitol as “thugs,” and vowed that the Senate “will not be intimidated.”

“The United States and the United States Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today. We’ve never been deterred before. And we’ll not be deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed,” McConnell said. “This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our republic.”

The vice president returned to preside over the Senate nearly six hours after the chamber abruptly recessed, saying it was a “dark day.”

“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win,” Pence said. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins, and this is still the people’s house.”

The vice president, who remained in the Capitol complex during the assault, hailed the decision of lawmakers to reconvene in the wake of the day’s remarkable events, saying the building is secure once again and the work of the Congress will continue.

“The elected representatives of the people of the United States have assembled again on the very same day to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” he said. “So may God bless the lost, the injured and the heroes forged on this day.”

Former President Barack Obama decried the violence at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, saying, “we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise.” The former president said Republican leaders now have a choice to make. 

 “For two months now, a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth — that this was not a particularly close election and that President-Elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. Their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo,” Mr. Obama said. 

“Right now, Republican leaders have a choice made clear in the desecrated chambers of democracy,” Mr. Obama continued. “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.”

“We need more leaders like these — right now and in the days, weeks, and months ahead as President-Elect Biden works to restore a common purpose to our politics. It’s up to all of us as Americans, regardless of party, to support him in that goal,” Mr. Obama said. 

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the president’s first secretary of defense, said Mr. Trump is responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters.

“Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump,” Mattis said in a statement. “His use of the presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice.”

Mattis said that while the Constitution and the nation will “overcome this stain,” and the American people will unite, the president will “deservedly be left a man without a country.”

Freshman Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, a staunch ally of President Trump’s who has promoted QAnon conspiracy theories, tweeted that she will still object to the Electoral College count.

“I will still object to fraudulent electoral votes. Despicable violence committed by fringe agitators will not silence my voice or derail the Constitutional process that Congress must complete,” Taylor Greene wrote. “It’s our duty as members of the People’s House to ensure election integrity.”

Stephanie Grisham, a former White House communications director and press secretary, resigned from her role as first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff on Wednesday amid the violent assault on the Capitol.

“It has been an honor to serve the country in the White House. 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,” Grisham said in a statement to CBS News. 

CNN first reported Grisham’s resignation. Grisham has been a fierce Trump loyalist and one of the longest-serving White House aides.

A senior White House official tells CBS News that Grisham’s resignation was “a long time coming” but that the attack at the Capitol was “the tipping point” that prompted her departure.

The House and Senate have been given the all clear to return and the tunnels connecting the Capitol complex have reopened, roughly five hours after lawmakers evacuated from their respective chambers.

The vice president “never left the Capitol” and has now returned to the Senate to continue the process of counting electoral votes, his press secretary says: 

Vice President @Mike_Pence has returned to the Senate. He never left the [email protected] was in regular contact w/ House & Senate leadership, Cap Police, DOJ, & DoD to facilitate efforts to secure the Capitol & reconvene Congress.

Twitter announced Mr. Trump’s account will be locked for 12 hours due to a trio of tweets he posted about the attack on the U.S. Capitol perpetrated by a violent mob of his supporters that the social media company said violated its policies.

“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,” Twitter said in a series of posts. “This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets.”

The company said that if Mr. Trump does not remove the tweets, his account will remain locked, and further violations of its Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies will lead to the permanent suspension of his account.

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington issued a statement Wednesday evening saying she will no longer object to the Electoral College results. She is the first member of Congress to reverse course after saying she would challenge the results.

“The only reason for my objection was to give voice to the concern that governors and courts unilaterally changed election procedures without the will of the people and outside of the legislative process,” she said in a statement. “I have been consistent in my belief that Americans should utilize the Constitutional tools and legal processes available to seek answers to their questions about the 2020 election. What we have seen today is unlawful and unacceptable. 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.”

On Tuesday, McMorris Rodgers issued a statement saying she would object to the results “in states where there have been allegations of voter fraud and questions raised about the legality of changes to state election law.”

McMorris Rodgers’ statement on Tuesday said she would “fight for answers for the people I represent and make sure their voices are heard.”

Congressional staffers in the secure area where senators are huddled said the Senate plans to return to the Capitol imminently and reconvene at 8 p.m. to resume debate over the objection to the Electoral College results.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters “8 o’clock” when asked if there were any updates.

The National Association of Manufacturers is calling on Pence to consider invoking the 25th amendment of the Constitution, which transfers power to the vice president should the president be incapacitated or deemed unable to carry out the duties of the presidency. 

“Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy,” the association’s  president and CEO Jay Timmons said in a statement Wednesday.  

“The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy. Anyone indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars is complicit,” reads Timmons’ statement.

Timmons’ said in his statement “this is not the vision of America that manufacturers believe in and work so hard to defend.” He added that, while the president continues to dispute the certified election, “millions of manufacturing workers are helping our nation fight the deadly pandemic that has already taken hundreds of thousands of lives.”

“We are trying to rebuild an economy and save and rebuild lives,” he wrote. “But none of that will matter if our leaders refuse to fend off this attack on America and our democracy — because our very system of government, which underpins our very way of life, will crumble.”

In a letter to colleagues on Wednesday evening, Pelosi condemned the “shameful” riots in the Capitol, and said she believed Congress should proceed with tallying Electoral College votes once the Capitol is secured.

“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,” Pelosi 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.”

Pelosi also expressed hope that “this instigation to violence will provide an epiphany for our country to heal.”

“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. “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. 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.”

National security adviser Robert O’Brien tweeted that he had recently spoken to Vice President Mike Pence, but he did not mention President Trump.

“I just spoke with Vice President Pence,” O’Brien tweeted. “He is a genuinely fine and decent man. He exhibited courage today as he did at the Capitol on 9/11 as a Congressman. I am proud to serve with him.”

Pence defied the president earlier Wednesday when he told lawmakers he did not have the authority to overturn the election results, as the president had insisted. After the assault on the Capitol, Pence tweeted that “violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now.”

Former President George W. Bush, the only living Republican former president, issued a statement denouncing the assault on the U.S. Capitol. Mr. Bush said he is “appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election” without calling out anyone directly.

“This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic,” Mr. Bush said. “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.”

Mr. Bush ended the statement with a note to those disappointed by the results of the election, saying “our country is more important than the politics of the moment.”

In a scathing statement Wednesday evening, GOP Senator Mitt Romney blamed Mr. Trump for encouraging the “insurrection” at the Capitol.

“We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States,” Romney said. 

He also took a shot at his Republican colleagues who supported objecting to the Electoral College results, saying that they will “forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.” He mocked the idea — floated by Senator Ted Cruz and 10 other Republican senators — that Congress should establish a commission to review the election results.

“The objectors have claimed they are doing so on behalf of the voters. Have an audit, they say, to satisfy the many people who believe that the election was stolen. Please! No Congressional led audit will ever convince those voters, particularly when the President will continue to claim that the election was stolen,” Romney said. “The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth. That is the burden, and the duty, of leadership.”

“We must not be intimidated or prevented from fulfilling our constitutional duty. We must continue with the count of electoral college votes,” Romney continued. “In light of today’s sad circumstances, I ask my colleagues: Do we weigh our own political fortunes more heavily than we weigh the strength of our Republic, the strength of our democracy, and the cause of freedom? What is the weight of personal acclaim compared to the weight of conscience?”

A woman who was shot inside the Capitol earlier Wednesday has died of her injuries, according to Alaina Gertz, a spokeswoman from the Metropolitan Police Department. 

The unidentified woman was a civilian, not a member of law enforcement, according to Gertz. Earlier, police said the woman was among six people taken to the hospital after the breach at the Capitol.

A curfew ordered by the mayor of Washington, D.C., took effect at 6 p.m., and police at the Capitol warned demonstrators to disperse or face arrest.

A warning over loudspeakers said that “all individuals must leave the U.S. Capitol grounds, or be subject to arrest.”

Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general, said the crisis at the Capitol was an “unacceptable situation” and the Justice Department “intend[s] to enforce the laws of our land.”

“The violence at our Nation’s Capitol Building is an intolerable attack on a fundamental institution of our democracy,” Rosen, the top federal law enforcement officer, said in a statement. “From the outset,  the Department of Justice has been working in close coordination with the Capitol Police and federal partners from the Interior Department,  the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Guard, as well as the Metropolitan Police and other local authorities.”

Rosen assumed leadership of the Justice Department just before Christmas after the resignation of Attorney General William Barr.

Mr. Trump’s video about the election has been restricted by Twitter and can’t be retweeted, liked or replied to. Twitter also put a notice on it that “this claim of election fraud has been disputed.”

In a statement, Twitter said “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.” Any threats to safety are against Twitter rules, the social media giant said.

“In addition, we have been significantly restricting engagement with Tweets labeled under our Civic Integrity Policy due to the risk of violence. This means these labeled Tweets will not be able to be replied to, Retweeted, or liked,” Twitter continued.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska placed the blame for the violence at the U.S. Capitol perpetrated by Mr. Trump’s supporters on Mr. Trump, saying “lies have consequences.”

“This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking division,” Sasse said in a statement. 

The senator excoriated the president, saying that while the Capitol was “ransacked” by those attempting to thwart Congress’s efforts to count the electoral votes, Mr. Trump “cowered behind his keyboard — tweeting against his vice president for fulfilling the duties of his oath to the Constitution.”

Law enforcement officers have begun deploying flash-bang grenades and tear gas in an effort to disperse rioters from the steps on the west end of the Capitol. Plumes of smoke could be seen rising around demonstrators as they retreated from a balcony where they had broken a window and entered an office.

[email protected] reports on law enforcement’s increased efforts to clear pro-Trump demonstrators from the steps of the U.S. Capitol. pic.twitter.com/sb183mEhwo

Hundreds of law enforcement personnel from federal, state and local jurisdictions in and around Washington are responding to the crisis as officials struggle to get the situation under control. 

Senator Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, told CBS News that a Senate staffer managed to secure the wooden chests containing the Electoral College certificates before senators were evacuated from the Senate chamber.

“The good news is that one of the staff members was very, very quick-thinking, and was able to grab and secure the Electoral College ballots and bring them with her to this location,” Duckworth said in a phone interview. “So we have them with us, and we will be able to proceed as long as Mitch McConnell calls us back into session.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth says that a staffer secured the electoral college ballots and brought them with her when lawmakers and staffers were moved to a secure location in the U.S. Capitol. pic.twitter.com/b4W4UFINjM

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon tweeted a photo of the chests from the secure location where senators are being held:

Electoral college ballots rescued from the Senate floor. If our capable floor staff hadn’t grabbed them, they would have been burned by the mob. pic.twitter.com/2JCauUIlvg

Senator Josh Hawley, who was the first Senator to announce his intent to challenge the Electoral College vote count, called for an end to the violence brought by a mob of the president’s supporters protesting the count. 

“Thank you to the brave law enforcement officials who have put their lives on the line,” Hawley said in a statement posted on Twitter after rioters breached the Capitol building. “The violence must end, those who attacked police and broke the law must be prosecuted, and Congress must get back to work and finish its job.”

The Missouri senator’s planned objection included claims of widespread voter fraud and election interference that have been proven false.

Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said on Wednesday she would draw up articles of impeachment against the president. It has been almost exactly one year since Mr. Trump was cleared of all charges in his impeachment trial.

“I am drawing up Articles of Impeachment. Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate. We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath,” Omar said in a tweet.

Omar’s tweet comes moments after the president released a video calling on the rioters to go home, but also saying that he “loved” them.

I was sitting inside the Senate press gallery Wednesday afternoon, crafting an email to send to the CBS News bureau describing the events of the past half hour of debate over objections to Arizona’s slate of electors, when Vice President Mike Pence was swiftly evacuated from the Senate chamber. I assumed it was for security purposes, given the crowds of rowdy demonstrators that had gathered outside the building.

I quickly devised an email to shoot to my editors letting them know that Pence had left, figuring it was a false alarm. But soon, Senate gallery staffers were shouting “lock the doors,” and it was clear that the situation was serious. Reporters were ushered into the press gallery above the Senate chamber, and the doors were locked. We could hear the muffled sound of the rioters outside.

Electronics aren’t allowed in the chamber, but I brought my laptop and cell phone inside to let my editors know I was safe. Senators were on their phones, presumably calling loved ones, as police officers eyed the locked doors. At one point, Senator Amy Klobuchar shouted that there had been shots fired, urging her colleagues to stay away from the doors and take the situation seriously.

Suddenly, senators began filing out to be evacuated. Reporters were initially stuck in the gallery on the third floor overlooking the chamber. Senator Cory Booker called up to the reporters on the balcony, asking how we were doing. I laughed, probably with a tinge of hysteria. “We’re doing great,” I called back down.

Reporters were shuffled out of the chamber and guided by Capitol police officers alongside the senators to a secure location. The Senate went into recess, and the rioters gained access to the chamber soon after.

Mr. Trump, in a one-minute video posted to Twitter, told the rioters they are “special” but “need to go home now.” The president spent about as much time calling the election stolen as saying the situation should come to an end.

Not once in the video did Mr. Trump condemn the violence caused by his supporters, but instead sympathized with their anger. 

“I know your pain, I know your hurt,” Mr. Trump said. “We had an election that was stolen from us. it was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time.”

“There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us. From me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election. But we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have peace. So go home, we love you, you’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. And you see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace,” the president said. 

Shortly before Mr. Trump released a video telling protesters to go home, Mr. Biden called on the president to go on national television and speak out against the mob that breached the U.S. Capitol Wednesday.

“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 during a televised address from Delaware. The president encouraged supporters during a rally earlier in the day, but later wrote on Twitter that those at the Capitol should “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!”

A suspicious device found at Republican National Committee headquarters has been safely detonated by a bomb squad, RNC communications director Michael Ahrens tweeted. 

“Earlier today, a suspicious device was found at RNC headquarters. RNC staff was safely evacuated from the building and the device has been successfully detonated by a bomb squad,” Ahrens wrote. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became one of the first world leaders to condemn what is happening at the U.S. Capitol, calling the scenes “disgraceful.” 

“Disgraceful scenes in the U.S. Congress,” Johnson tweeted. “The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became one of the first world leaders to condemn what is happening at the U.S. Capitol, calling the scenes “disgraceful.” 

“Disgraceful scenes in the U.S. Congress,” Johnson tweeted. “The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”

D.C. Fire and EMS said a woman was shot and in critical condition at a nearby hospital, and at least five people have been transported to the hospital as pro-Trump demonstrators swarmed the U.S. Capitol, prompting a lockdown and evacuations of lawmakers, staff and journalists.

Vice President Mike Pence went further than the president on Wednesday afternoon, saying the violence must stop and the “attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated.”

“The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building,” Pence tweeted. “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.”

Mr. Trump has been frustrated with Pence, who says he lacks the power to overturn the election. 

Thus far, Mr. Trump has not urged the demonstrators to leave, nor condemned the violence at the Capitol. 

In a brief one-line statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged the president to call on his supporters to vacate the Capitol and end the crisis.

“We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protestors leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately,” the Democratic leaders said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told CBS News that he condemned the violence in the Capitol, and said that he had spoken to Mr. Trump.

“I’ve spoken to the president,” McCarthy said. “I asked him to talk to the nation, to tell them to stop this.”

Mr. Trump has yet to explicitly condemn the demonstrators, but has asked them to “remain peaceful.” The protesters violently entered the Capitol, threatening the safety of lawmakers and staffers.

The National Guard is on the way to the U.S. Capitol, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a tweet. Mr. Trump did not make the announcement himself. 

“At President @realDonaldTrump’s direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services,” McEnany tweeted. “We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful.”

Members of the Virginia National Guard and 200 Virginia state troopers are being deployed to Washington, D.C., to assist with the response to pro-Trump demonstrators who have breached the U.S. Capitol, Governor Ralph Northam said.

“My team and I are working closely with @MayorBowser, @SpeakerPelosi, and @SenSchumer to respond to the situation in Washington, D.C.  Per the Mayor’s request, I am sending members of the Virginia National Guard along with 200 Virginia State Troopers,” he tweeted.

My team and I are working closely with @MayorBowser, @SpeakerPelosi, and @SenSchumer to respond to the situation in Washington, D.C.

Per the Mayor’s request, I am sending members of the Virginia National Guard along with 200 Virginia State Troopers.

Federal Protective Service and Secret Service agents are being deployed to the U.S. Capitol, Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli confirmed. 

The presence of the U.S. Capitol Police was clearly insufficient to stop the storm of demonstrators. 

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request for D.C. National Guard troops was approved earlier this week, and were mobilized Wednesday afternoon.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine issued a statement urging the president to tell his supporters to stand down and leave the Capitol. Mr. Trump thus far has not condemned the violence, or called on his supporters to disband, tweeting only that demonstrators should “remain peaceful.”

“We call on President Trump to immediately tell his supporters, who are trampling on the District of Columbia and have breached the U.S. Capitol, to cease and desist and return from whence they came in a peaceful manner,” Racine said in a statement. “The United States of America is the world’s greatest democracy, and that rests on a peaceful transition of power.”

“We urge President Trump to do what he has not yet done, but what he must do: order his supporters to leave the District of Columbia and fully embrace the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris,” Racine continued. 

Racine said all D.C. residents “must remain at home,” and “under no circumstance should anyone travel downtown nor be in the vicinity of federal buildings.” 

Mr. Trump took to Twitter to call for peace as swarms of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and made their way inside, prompting law enforcement to evacuate lawmakers, staff and journalists from the House and Senate chambers.

“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!” he tweeted.

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!

Mr. Trump’s tweet comes after his supporters breached several layers of security barriers, charged up the steps of the Capitol and pushed their way inside. Demonstrators made their way to the floor of the Senate, and images showed Capitol Police in the House chamber with their guns drawn and the doors to the floor barricaded.

Protesters reached the interior of the Capitol building, prompting the evacuation of senators and causing House members to take cover under their seats in the House chamber. Lawmakers were told to use gas masks to protect themselves from tear gas before being escorted out.

Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia tweeted that tear gas had been used in the Capitol Rotunda.

As pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the steps of the U.S. Capitol and made their way inside, the president broke his silence on the violent protests and called for support of law enforcement.

“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has ordered a 6 p.m. curfew, as the crisis at the Capitol intensifies. 

“Today, I’m ordering a citywide curfew for the District of Columbia from 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 6, until 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 7,” Bowser tweeted. 

The sun sets at roughly 5 p.m. in Washington, so the curfew still comes after dark. 

As Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma delivered remarks, the Senate abruptly recessed and lawmakers left the chamber. An aide could be heard telling the senator “protesters are in the building.”

During the debate over the objection to Arizona’s results, Senator Ted Cruz stepped up to rationalize his opposition to tallying the Electoral College not on the basis of specific facts, but by stating that much of the country believes the election was rigged. 

Both sides of the aisle are doing lots of “moralizing,” Cruz said, “but I would urge to both sides perhaps a bit less certitude and a bit more recognition that we are gathered at a time when democracy is in crisis.”

“Recent polling shows that 39% of Americans believe the election that just occurred was rigged,” Cruz said. 

Still, Cruz said he isn’t trying to set aside the results of an election, saying instead there should be a commission to study the integrity of the election. There should be a 10-day emergency audit, the senator argued. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer excoriated the efforts from Republican lawmakers to object to the electoral ballots cast in Arizona, saying they will be an embarrassment and risk harming the view of American democracy.

“In the process, they will embarrass themselves. They will embarrass their party. And worst of all, they will embarrass their country,” Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said during remarks in response to the objection from Gosar and Cruz.

The Senate’s top Democrat called the efforts an “insurrection” and a “coup,” and questioned the message their actions will send to the rest of the world that look to the United States as a beacon of democracy.

“What will we show those people? Will we show those people that there is a better way to ensure liberty and opportunity of humankind?” Schumer said. “Sadly, a small band of Republican objectors may darken the view of our democracy today, but a larger group of senators and House members from both sides of the aisle can send a message, too, that democracy beats deep in the hearts of our citizens and elected representatives, that we are a country of laws and not men.”

Schumer noted the slew of losses the Trump campaign has suffered in court, with many of their legal challenges dismissed because they did not present evidence to support allegations of fraud.

In a remarkable speech from the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch castigated his fellow Republicans who challenged Arizona’s election results, arguing they were subverting the Constitution by attempting to overturn the election results.

“I’ve served 36 years in the Senate. This will be the most important vote I’ve ever cast,” McConnell said. “The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. They’ve all spoken. If we overrule them, it will damage our republic forever.”

McConnell addressed senators as they gaveled in to debate the objection over Arizona’s slate of electors in a session presided over by Pence. 

He also noted that the election was “not unusually close,” as Mr. Biden defeated Mr. Trump with 306 electoral votes. 

“If this election was overturned by allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” McConnell said, predicting that every election would become a free-for-all in which the loser would try to overturn the will of the voters.

“Self-government, my colleagues, requires a shared commitment to the truth. And a shared respect for the ground rules of our system. We cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes with a separate set of facts and separate realities,” he continued.

The Senate majority leader was impassioned, his voice trembling at moments. Meanwhile, outside the Capitol, crowds of angry pro-Trump protesters pushed back against barricades set by Capitol police officers in their demonstration against the count.

“It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise American voters and overrule the court and the states,” McConnell said. “I will not pretend such a vote will be a harmless protest gesture, while relying on others to do the right thing. I will vote to respect the people’s decision and defend our system of government as we know it.” 

The Capitol Police ordered the evacuation of the Cannon House Office Building, which is part of the Capitol complex, as supporters of the president confronted police outside of the Capitol building. A Library of Congress building next to Cannon was also evacuated.

Staffers received an alert instructing them to “remain calm and move in a safe manner to the exits.”

Protesters have gathered on Capitol grounds, waving flags and cheering for lawmakers to “stop the steal.” Mr. Trump has said he will walk the two miles down Pennsylvania Avenue to join the protests there.

Footage from the Capitol showed protesters attempting to charge up the steps of the Capitol and being met by police.

Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar objected to the counting of electoral ballots from his home state, and his objection was joined by Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Sixty GOP House members joined the objection, as did seven Republican senators: Mike Braun of Indiana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Steve Daines of Montana, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

Both the House and Senate will now separate and debate for up to two hours the objection. The objection is not expected to be sustained once they each vote.

“Objecting to counting the electoral votes of the state of Arizona, we, a member of the House of Representatives and a United States senator object to the counting of the electoral votes of the state of Arizona on the ground that they were not under all of the known circumstances regularly given,” the objection read.

The electoral votes from Alabama and Alaska were read aloud and counted first, with no objections.

Republicans applaud Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) after he objects to counting the electoral votes for Arizona, which will go to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris https://t.co/wTKxzqAo9U pic.twitter.com/eFHCAs2PhZ

Just before the joint session convened, Pence sent a letter to Congress confirming he does not have the authority to reject states’ electoral votes, as Mr. Trump has been pressuring him to do.

“As a student of history who loves the Constitution and reveres its Framers, I do not believe that the Founders of our country intended to invest the vice president with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the joint session of Congress, and no vice president in American history has every asserted such authority,” Pence wrote in a letter released by the White House.

“It is my considered judgment 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,” Pence continued.

Pence’s letter, dated January 6, was released as the president delivered remarks to supporters outside the White House, during which he continued to push the vice president to reject the Electoral College votes from states he lost.

Pence, however, wrote that he wanted to reassure the American people that while presiding over the joint session, he will uphold the oath he made to them and to God.

“When the joint session of Congress convenes today, I will do my duty to see to it that we open the certificates of the electors of the several states, we hear objections raised by senators and representatives, and we count the votes of the Electoral College for president and vice president in a manner consistent with our Constitution, laws, and history. So Help Me God,” the vice president said.

Lawmakers from the House and Senate are assembled in the House chamber to begin the process of counting the Electoral College votes. Vice President Mike Pence is presiding over the session in his capacity as president of the Senate.

The vice president will hand each state’s certificate of votes to a “teller,” who will read it aloud. At this point, members can object to the results. The objection will only be valid if it’s in writing and signed by at least one House member and senator. If Pence determines the objection is valid, both chambers will separate to debate and vote on whether to accept the state’s results.

The states will be presented alphabetically, meaning Arizona will likely be the first state to have its results contested. If the objection is sustained, it could take more than three hours to resolve the objection, based on the two hours allocated for debate and the time it takes for members to vote. A majority in each chamber must vote to reject the results for the electors to be thrown out, a near impossibility given Democrats’ control of the House.

Watch CBS News’ coverage of the joint session on CBSN in the player above, and find the live feed from the House floor below: 

Senators Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Todd Young of Indiana are the latest Republicans to oppose efforts by their fellow GOP lawmakers to object to electoral votes from several battleground states.

Tillis warned in a statement that doing so would set a precedent to allow Democrats to reject presidential electors after the 2024 presidential election. 

“The Framers of our Constitution made it clear that the power to certify elections is reserved to the states, not Congress. Refusing to certify state election results has no viable path to success, and most importantly, it lends legitimacy to the Left’s stated policy objectives of completely federalizing elections and eliminating the Electoral College,” he said. “Congress should not overstep its constitutional authority by overturning the results of states and the will of American voters, especially absent legitimate requests from states for Congress to intervene.”

Tillis said that Congress cannot change the results of the presidential election “without inflicting irreparable damage to our Constitutional Republic.”

“I will not oppose the certification of the Electoral College votes, and I will not embolden politicians in the future to appoint our presidents instead of having the American people duly elect them,” he continued.

Young, meanwhile, said in a separate statement that he will “uphold my constitutional duty and certify the will of the states as presented.”

“The people voted and the Electoral College voted,” he said. “Congress must fulfill its role in turn.”

Young said that the role Congress plays in the election process is “narrow by design,” as the states are responsible for their elections and determining the presidential electors. 

“Congress has no authority to do anything other than certify states’ Electoral College votes as reported,” he added. “For Congress to supplant the will of a state’s certified electors for its own would be unconstitutional and set a dangerous precedent.”

The president unleashed a flurry of falsehoods about Vice President Mike Pence’s role in the counting of electoral votes, vowing to “never concede” while addressing supporters near the White House ahead of the joint session of Congress.

“Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” Mr. Trump said falsely, as Pence has no power to overturn the election. 

The president claimed he just spoke with Pence, and told his vice president it doesn’t take courage to do what he wants.

“I said, ‘Mike, that doesn’t take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing,'” the president told his supporters. 

Florida Senator Rick Scott, a Republican, joins the group of 13 GOP senators who intend to challenge the electoral votes from battleground states, saying in a statement he “will likely” vote to uphold an objection to Pennsylvania’s votes.

“The actions of the governor’s administration and the courts in Pennsylvania pose a serious threat to the integrity of future elections,” Scott said. “The Democrat governor of Pennsylvania, along with state courts, made a decision to allow votes to be counted that came in after election day, even if they did not have a postmark, in defiance of state law. This is absurd, and cannot be tolerated.”

Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri plans to contest Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes, while Senator Ted Cruz is expected to object to Arizona’s. The Texas senator led a coalition of 10 other Republican senators who pledged to challenge the electoral votes.

Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, who signed a letter with 10 other Republican senators on Saturday saying they would object to some results unless an electoral commission is created, affirmed on Wednesday that he would object to the Arizona results.

“We’ll start with Arizona. So we’ll let that go from there,” Lankford told reporters on Capitol Hill. He did not say whether he would object to the results from other states. He also said that the results of the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia may change how lawmakers approach the count today.

“I thought about that this morning as well, how people will view that. I don’t know that I can give an answer to that,” Lankford said.

When the vice president of the United States presides over the counting of the Electoral College votes and announces the final tally and winner of the election, it’s usually little more than a formality. But this year, Mr. Trump’s refusal to accept his loss to Mr. Biden — and the willingness of many Republican lawmakers to indulge him — has teed up a tense day in the Capitol. 

It’s Vice President Mike Pence who’s tasked with this duty on Wednesday for the pro forma joint session of Congress. Tellers will read each state’s tally aloud, and at any point, members may object to that state’s votes. It takes one senator and one House member to trigger consideration of an objection. The Senate and the House then debate the objection separately and vote on whether to accept the state’s ballots.

Read some of the claims viewers may anticipate — and whether they stand up to scrutiny — here.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah lambasted Mr. Trump for ongoing attempts to pressure Pence to reject the electoral votes from states he lost and support for Republicans’ plans to object to the Electoral College votes from battleground states.

“The gambit that we’re seeing today, very disappointing,” Romney told reporters on Capitol Hill. “President Trump has disrespected the American voters, has dishonored the election system and has disgraced the office of the presidency.”

“I’m confident that we’ll proceed as the Constitution demands and tell our supporters the truth, whether or not they want to hear it,” he continued.

Romney has chastised plans from his Republican colleagues to challenge the electoral votes from some states, saying in a statement Sunday that “the egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our democratic republic.”

Thirty-seven House Republicans announced plans to object to electoral results in four states on Wednesday: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“Our support of objections will not diminish the value of the vote of any individual citizen, but rather protect that value,” the House members argued in a statement, responding to criticisms that Congress is seeking to unilaterally overturn the will of the people by objecting to certified Electoral College results.

However, it is unclear whether these Republicans would be joined by senators in challenging the results in all four states. At least one member of both the House and the Senate must object to a state’s results in order for that objection to be considered and voted on by each chamber.

Mr. Trump continued his crusade to pressure Pence to invalidate electoral votes cast against him and overturn the outcome of the presidential election. The vice president, however, does not have the authority to do what the president is asking him.

“If Vice President @Mike_Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency. Many States want to decertify the mistake they made in certifying incorrect & even fraudulent numbers in a process  NOT approved by their State Legislatures (which it must be). Mike can send it back!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia certified their election results, and none have moved to decertify their results, as the president claims. When the Electoral College met December 14, presidential electors, Mr. Biden’s victory was formalized, as he received 306 electoral votes, exceeding the 270 needed to win the White House.

Still, Mr. Trump has been unrelenting in his effort to push Pence to reject the electoral votes.

“States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval.  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!” the president said in a second tweet.

A senior administration official told CBS News the vice president does not believe he has the power to decertify election results.

Online stream: Live on CBSN in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device.

Heading into the joint session, it’s unclear how many states’ results will be challenged, though at least 100 House Republicans and a dozen GOP senators are expected to object to the counting of electoral votes. To force debate and a vote on an objection to a state’s electoral votes, it must be supported in writing by at least one member of the House and one member of the Senate.

Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has raised issues with Pennsylvania’s election results, specifically, though it’s unclear whether he will object to the electoral votes cast in any other state. The coalition of 11 GOP senators led by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, meanwhile, has not specified how many states’ votes they will challenge, though Cruz is expected to object to Arizona’s electoral votes.

Still, because debate on the objections can last up to two hours, lawmakers are in for a long day.

Republicans’ efforts to challenge the electoral votes are not going to change the outcome of the election. Sustaining an objection and tossing out a state’s votes requires a simple majority from each the House and Senate. With Democrats controlling the House, it’s all but a sure thing the lower chamber will vote down any attempt to invalidate electoral votes cast for Mr. Biden.

Regardless, the president has rested his hopes for a second term on Congress, and the White House has blessed Republicans’ plan to challenge the results.

A slew of senators announced Tuesday they will not join the objections expected from their Republican colleagues to the electoral votes cast for Mr. Biden in several battleground states, bringing the number of Republicans expected to support the counting of those votes to at least 20. Among those who announced their decision not to bless the efforts from their fellow Republicans are Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma.

“As I read the Constitution, there is no constitutionally viable means for the Congress to overturn an election wherein the states have certified and sent their electors,” Scott said in a statement. “Some of my colleagues believe they have found a path, and while our opinions differ, I do not doubt their good intentions to take steps towards stamping out voter fraud. Importantly, I disagree with their method both in principle and in practice.”

The South Carolina Republican noted the high hurdle Republicans would have to mount in order for their objections to be sustained and a state’s electoral votes invalidated: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats, which maintain a slim majority in the lower chamber, would have to join the challenges to electoral votes cast for Mr. Biden and reelect President Trump.

Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiUGh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmNic25ld3MuY29tL2xpdmUtdXBkYXRlcy9lbGVjdG9yYWwtY29sbGVnZS12b3RlLWNvdW50LWJpZGVuLXZpY3Rvcnkv0gFUaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuY2JzbmV3cy5jb20vYW1wL2xpdmUtdXBkYXRlcy9lbGVjdG9yYWwtY29sbGVnZS12b3RlLWNvdW50LWJpZGVuLXZpY3Rvcnkv?oc=5

News – Pence announces Biden’s victory after Congress completes electoral count