“At the moment, a shameful assault was made on our democracy. It was anointed on the highest degree of presidency. It can’t, nevertheless, deter us from our duty to validate the election of Joe Biden,” wrote Pelosi (D-Calif.).
As he reopened the Senate chamber, Pence decried “the darkish day within the historical past of the US Capitol.”
“To those that wreaked havoc in our Capitol at the moment, you didn’t win. Violence by no means wins. Freedom wins. That is nonetheless the folks’s home,” Pence mentioned.
“They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed,” Sen. Majority Chief Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) added.
The ceremonial studying of the electoral votes had solely simply begun when pro-Trump rioters rushed the constructing, forcing the evacuation of each chambers of Congress. For hours, rioters rampaged by means of the Capitol advanced. One lady was fatally shot within the constructing.
Solely after the D.C. Nationwide Guard had been activated and political leaders in each events condemned the rioting and appealed for calm did authorities declare the Capitol was safe.
The day had at all times been anticipated to be a historic take a look at of the democratic system, with dozens of Republicans trying for the primary time to make use of Congress’s beforehand ceremonial position to attempt to overturn the outcomes of a well-liked vote. The method was already underway when Jon Ossoff was declared the winner of one in all two Senate runoffs in Georgia on Tuesday, handing management of the higher chamber to the Democrats.
Nonetheless, the end result of the congressional proceedings had been clear from the beginning, significantly after Pence introduced he would reject pleas from the president to make use of his position because the session’s presiding officer at hand a win to Trump.
McConnell, who additionally had mentioned little publicly in regards to the course of earlier than Wednesday, likewise delivered a stirring opening ground speech imploring his colleagues to not injury democracy by objecting to the votes.
“Voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken — they’ve all spoken. If we overrule them, it might injury our republic ceaselessly,” he mentioned.
The tense day turned to horror when pro-Trump rioters, stirred up at a rally the place the president referred to as for them to march on the Capitol, stormed the constructing, inflicting the proceedings to be halted for hours and the chambers to be evacuated. A lady died after being shot throughout the melee.
The violence shocked leaders in each events. Whereas lawmakers huddled in an undisclosed location throughout the siege, Republican leaders pressed their members to desert their plans to problem the electoral vote. A least one Republican Home member who had deliberate to object later mentioned she had modified her thoughts and would vote to substantiate Biden’s votes.
“I encourage Donald Trump to sentence and put an finish to this insanity,” mentioned Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.).
Democrats and a few outdoors teams started calling Wednesday for Trump to be both shortly impeached by Congress or faraway from workplace by way of the 25th Modification to the Structure, which guides the dealing with of an incapacitated president, in an effort to reduce his potential to incite extra violence.
A number of hours after his supporters had damaged into the Capitol, Trump tweeted and launched a video calling on them to respect regulation enforcement. However he additionally repeated lies in regards to the election being stolen from him.
Late within the day, he tweeted that “these are the issues and occasions that occur when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from nice patriots.” The tweet was shortly eliminated by Twitter, which additionally for the primary time introduced Trump’s account can be locked till he deleted the tweet after which for 12 hours.
The congressional course of was presupposed to be a mere ceremonial checkpoint on the way in which to Biden’s oath-taking later this month. Biden gained the favored vote on Nov. three and, final month, the electoral school met in every state capital, as stipulated within the U.S. Structure. Biden gained 306 electoral votes, to Trump’s 232.
All that was left earlier than the Inauguration later this month was for a joint session of Congress to collect Wednesday and skim these votes aloud.
In response to an 1887 regulation that governs the method, any member of the Home of Representatives, joined by a senator, can object, prompting a two hour debate, adopted by a vote of every chamber. A majority of each the Home and Senate would have needed to again a problem for any to prevail, and Trump’s supporters didn’t have the votes.
Dozens of Republicans within the Home, joined by 13 GOP Senators, had mentioned they supposed to object to slates of electors from a number of swing states that had backed Biden. They cited as their purpose baseless allegations of fraud fanned by Trump, and the ensuing perception amongst many Republicans that the election was compromised.
For days main as much as Wednesday, Trump had additionally pressed Pence, who the Structure requires to preside over the ceremony, to refuse to acknowledge electoral school slates from swing states that backed Biden.
“All Mike Pence has to do is ship them again to the States, AND WE WIN,” Trump tweeted in a single day hours earlier than the ceremony started. “Do it Mike, this can be a time for excessive braveness!”
Shortly earlier than he took the gavel, nevertheless, Pence launched a three-page letter he had written to members of Congress, rejecting Trump’s pleas.
“It’s my thought-about judgment that my oath to assist and defend the Structure constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to find out which electoral votes must be counted and which shouldn’t,” he wrote.
A senior administration official, talking on the situation of anonymity to explain personal conversations, mentioned Pence’s determination induced Trump to rage all afternoon even because the crowds had been breaking into the Capitol, telling aides that Pence had betrayed him.
Pence mentioned he would merely preside over the studying of tallies that had been forwarded by the states. After which he opened the session, starting alphabetically with the studying of votes from Alabama and Alaska, each of which backed Trump.
When Biden’s votes from Arizona had been learn aloud, Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.), joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to object. Dozens of Republicans rose and gave the 2 a hearty spherical of applause.
At that time, the Home and Senate retreated to their respective chambers to debate the problem, with Pence presiding over the Senate and Pelosi overseeing the Home.
For almost 30 minutes, the method ran largely as anticipated. McConnell — within the ultimate days of main the Senate chamber till Democrats take management because of their victories within the two Senate races in Georgia on Tuesday — gave an impassioned plea as to why Republicans shouldn’t heed Trump’s name to object to the outcomes.
“I’ve served 36 years within the Senate — this can be an important vote I’ve ever solid,” McConnell mentioned, his voice breaking at instances as he spoke.
“If this election had been overturned by mere allegations from the dropping aspect, our democracy would enter a demise spiral,” he mentioned.
Cruz insisted he was searching for solely a 10-day audit of the outcomes and never essentially to overturn the election, urging that they comply with set up a “credible and truthful tribunal” to think about the allegations of fraud which were superior.
His remarks ignored that greater than 90 state and federal judges, together with jurists appointed by each Democrats and Republicans, have thought-about and rejected claims of fraud or different irregularities for the reason that election.
Within the Home, a number of GOP audio system opened by objecting to voting procedures adopted by states in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Home Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) argued that “the constitutional course of was not adopted” in quite a lot of states.
And he talked about how over 100 Home Republicans had joined a lawsuit filed by Texas final month, searching for to get the Supreme Courtroom to throw out the outcomes of 4 states. The court docket declined to listen to the case. Scalise complained the court docket’s determination had been a “punt.”
However earlier than debate in both chamber might get really rolling, protesters — who had been attending a rally the place Trump spoke and urged them to march on the Capitol — broke into the constructing and stormed the chambers, inflicting each the Home and Senate to recess.
As chaos erupted and Pence and Pelosi had been hustled to safe places, Republican Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Mike Rounds of South Dakota helped the parliamentarians seize the election certificates and take them to the safe location.
Constitutional specialists mentioned nothing within the regulation prevented Congress from choosing up the ceremony the place it left off. Even when for some purpose they had been unable to finish that course of by Jan. 20, the Structure is evident: The president’s time period ends at midday on that day.
“The concept people had been allowed to derail one in all our most solemn sacred constitutional processes is horrifying. However that is solely going to delay for a bit the completion of the method,” mentioned Rick Pildes, a constitutional regulation professor at New York College College of Legislation. “If Congress wants in the future, two days or 10 days, they’ve that point, loads have time, to finish the method.”
In response to the Structure, the president and vp’s phrases will finish on Jan. 20. If for some purpose Congress weren’t in a position to affirm the electoral school vote between at times, Pelosi would grow to be “performing president.”
“What we completely know is that at midday on Jan. 20, the present time period of each President Trump and Vice President Pence finish,” mentioned Edward B. Foley, a regulation professor at Ohio State College.
Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.