Politics

Congress Certifies Biden’s Win Hours After Pro-Trump Mob Swarmed Capitol

The certification marked the end of a tumultuous two months during which President Trump spread conspiracy theories about voter fraud and incited his supporters to a violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks in the House Chamber after they reconvened for arguments over the objection of certifying Arizona’s Electoral College votes in November’s election, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. | AP Images
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks in the House Chamber after they reconvened for arguments over the objection of certifying Arizona’s Electoral College votes in November’s election, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. | AP Images

Congress made President-elect Joe Biden’s win official early Thursday hours after lawmakers were forced to evacuate due to pro-Trump mobs, some of them armed, who forced entry into and vandalized the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Around 4 a.m. ET, Congress passed the motion to certify the electoral count.

Many Senators revised their planned remarks Wednesday night to acknowledge the disruption earlier that day, the deep partisan differences it represented, and their responsibility to uphold and defend the will of the American people. The certification came after the Electoral College last month made Biden’s win official. He earned 306 electoral votes, more than the 270 needed to become president of the United States. 

The finalization of Biden's victory marked the end of a tumultuous two months, during which President Trump refused to concede the election or recognize Biden’s win, even though his administration authorized a governmental transition. Minutes after the certification, Trump said in a statement that there "will be an orderly transition on January 20th," according to White House spokesperson Dan Scavino. The statement also included the president's baseless claims of election fraud.

Around 10 p.m. ET Wednesday, the House voted on the first objection to Arizona’s electoral votes, which the Senate already rejected. Both chambers were still in session and continued to debate objections through the night.

Several Senate Republicans had previously planned to reject “electors from disputed states” during the formal counting on Wednesday, which would only have delayed the certification of Biden’s win. The senators’ plan drew bipartisan criticism; after the violence and unrest on Wednesday, during which at least one person died, several lawmakers denounced the idea during their remarks that night. Senators including Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), who lost her seat Wednesday morning to Rev. Raphael Warnock, said during their remarks that they decided to rescind their earlier plan to object in the face of the chaos; Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) still gave credence to the president’s debunked voter fraud theories during his remarks.

On the floor, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), another Trump loyalist, cracked jokes and appeared to distance himself from the voter fraud conspiracy theories that he publicly entertained for months last year. 

“From my point of view [Trump’s] been a consequential president. But today — all I can say is count me out. Enough is enough. I tried to be helpful,” Graham said, later adding, Biden is “the legitimate president of the United States.”

Graham continued: ”Maybe I, above all others of this body need to say this: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and vice president of the United States on January the 20th.”

Earlier Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence was ushered out of the Capitol by authorities as Trump supporters violently breached the building. The mob forced the session into recess out of safety concerns and left at least one person dead. The already-tense rally at the National Mall, which President Trump spoke at Wednesday morning, grew violent as crowds marched to and then swarmed the exterior of the Capitol building, pushing through barricades and clashing with police.

Both Senate party leaders admonished the violent mobs during their opening remarks on Wednesday night.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said lawmakers “will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs, or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation.” Neither McConnell nor Pence mentioned Trump by name in their evening remarks, despite condemning the day’s events.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the day “one that will live forever in infamy.” Schumer later attributed the mob’s actions  “in good part” to President Trump’s “words, his lies.” 

“This temple to democracy was desecrated,” Schumer added. “Those who performed the reprehensible acts cannot be called protesters. These were rioters and insurrectionists, goons and thugs, domestic terrorists.”

He continued: “In the end, all this mob has really accomplished is to delay our work by a few hours… The divisions in our country clearly run deep…. and we will begin the hard work of repairing this nation tonight.”

Since he lost to Biden in November, Trump repeatedly pushed baseless conspiracy theories that the election was “rigged,” filed dozens of lawsuits along with his allies that have overwhelmingly failed in court, and attempted to overturn the will of the people in multiple key swing states including Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan.

Wednesday afternoon, Biden addressed the nation and Trump himself, calling on the president “to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.”

Shortly after the president-elect finished his remarks, Trump posted a 1-minute video to his Twitter account in which he once again baselessly claimed that the election was stolen. Hours after the mob turned violent, the president told his supporters to go home. (Twitter and Facebook took down the video.) Twitter later temporarily locked Trump's account over tweets promoting violence, and Facebook and Instagram blocked posts from his account for 24 hours.

The anti-democratic mob in the United States on Wednesday drew condemnations from leaders around the world

Versha Sharma, Christina Cocca, and Johanna Silver contributed to this report.