Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over a joint session of Congress on Thursday to certify the 2020 Electoral College results.Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times
Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over a joint session of Congress on Thursday to certify the 2020 Electoral College results. Credit: The New York Times

 

Congress confirmed President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory early Thursday morning, hours after a mob of loyalists urged on by President Trump stormed and occupied the Capitol, disrupting the final electoral count in a shocking display of violence that shook the core of American democracy, New York Times reports.

President Trump, who spent months stoking the anger of his supporters with false claims that the election was stolen and refused to condemn the violent protesters on Wednesday, said early Thursday that he would respect the results of the election.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Trump’s comments came moments after Mr. Biden’s victory was certified shortly before 4 a.m. by a joint session of Congress presided over by Vice President Mike Pence.

There was no parallel in modern American history, with insurgents acting in the president’s name vandalizing Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, smashing windows, looting art and briefly taking control of the Senate chamber, where they took turns posing for photographs with fists up on the dais where Vice President Mike Pence had just been presiding.

By the time the Senate reconvened late on Wednesday evening, hours after lawmakers had been evacuated from a Capitol overrun by rebels carrying pro-Trump paraphernalia, one of the nation’s most polarizing moments had yielded an unexpected window of solidarity. Republicans and Democrats locked arms to denounce the violence and express their determination to carry out what they called a constitutionally sacrosanct function.

“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win,” Mr. Pence said in a sharp break from Mr. Trump, who had praised the mob. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said the “failed insurrection” had only clarified Congress’s purpose.

“They tried to disrupt our democracy,” he said. “They failed.”

The upheaval unfolded on a day when Democrats secured a stunning pair of victories in runoff elections in Georgia, winning effective control of the Senate and the complete levers of power in Washington. And it arrived as Congress met for what would normally have been a perfunctory and ceremonial session to declare Mr. Biden’s election.

The siege was the climax of a weekslong campaign by Mr. Trump, filled with baseless claims of fraud and outright lies, to try to overturn a democratically decided election that he lost.

“We gather due to a selfish man’s injured pride, and the outrage of supporters who he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and the 2012 presidential nominee, said after the chamber reconvened. “What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States.”

Wednesday evening, Mr. Biden, seeking to tamp down the anarchy that Mr. Trump stoked with angry language just hours earlier, Mr. Biden urged rioters to abandon what amounted to an armed occupation of the House and Senate. The president-elect denounced Mr. Trump’s refusal to graciously accept defeat, and suggested that the president was to blame for the violence.

“At their best, the words of a president can inspire,” Mr. Biden said. “At their worst, they can incite.”

Far from discouraging confrontation, Mr. Trump had encouraged his supporters earlier Wednesday to confront Republican lawmakers going against him to side with the Constitution.

After the voted was finally certified, Barry C. Black, the Senate chaplain, said a prayer in the chamber that acknowledged the violence.

“These tragedies have reminded us that words matter and that the power of life and death is in the tongue,” he said.

Congress rejected an attempt from Republicans to overturn the will of Pennsylvania voters early Thursday morning, effectively ending a final attempt from insurgents to turn a loss for President Trump in the state into a win.

The House rejected the challenge by a vote of 282 to 138, after a long debate dragged past 3 a.m. in Washington. A scuffle almost broke out on the chamber floor after Representative Conor Lamb, Democrat of Pennsylvania, delivered a particularly fiery speech in condemnation of the Republican objections.

“That attack today, it didn’t materialize out of nowhere,” Mr. Lamb said. “It was inspired by lies, the same lies you’re hearing in this room tonight, and the members who are repeating those lies should be ashamed of themselves.”

By a vote of 92 to 7, the Senate turned back the challenge shortly before 1 a.m., as the number of objections to the counting of Electoral College votes dwindled after the mob’s brazen effort to keep President Trump in office, despite his decisive election loss in November.

Those voting against the results of the American election in Pennsylvania were: Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Rick Scott of Florida.

As most Republicans and all Democrats rejected the attempt, Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, forcefully turned back the plot, registering his vote as “hell no.”

Earlier in the evening, lawmakers rejected an attempt to overturn the Arizona electoral slate. The House blocked the attempt with a 303-to-121 vote while the Senate offered a sharper rebuke with a 93-to-6 vote.

After debating the merits of subverting the majority of Arizona voters, lawmakers sped through the certification for several states after at least four Republican lawmakers, including Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, said they had changed their minds and would vote to uphold the Electoral College results after having previously said that they would object to them.

Those voting against the results of the American election in Arizona were: Mr. Hawley, Mr. Cruz, Mr. Tuberville, Ms. Hyde-Smith, Mr. Marshall and John Kennedy of Louisiana.

The move by Ms. Loeffler, who lost a special election in Georgia and failed to retain her Senate seat, amounted to one of her last acts in the upper chamber and she announced her reversal during remarks on the Senate floor after the debate resumed late Wednesday.

“When I arrived in Washington this morning, I fully intended to object to the certification of the electoral votes,” she said. “However, the events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider, and I cannot now, in good conscience, object.”

Ms. Loeffler’s remarks came after Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and Senator Steve Daines of Montana condemned the actions of the mob of Trump loyalists who stormed the Capitol earlier on Wednesday and said they would no longer back an effort by some of their Republican colleagues to throw out the election results.

Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, joined the group late Wednesday as well, releasing a joint statement with Mr. Daines that called on “the entire Congress to come together and vote to certify the election results.”

Ms. McMorris Rodgers’s remarks were particularly pointed.

“Thugs assaulted Capitol Police officers, breached and defaced our Capitol building, put people’s lives in danger and disregarded the values we hold dear as Americans,” Ms. McMorris Rodgers said in a statement, which she released a day after declaring she would object to the vote counts. “To anyone involved, shame on you.”

“What we have seen today is unlawful and unacceptable,” she added. “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.”

Shortly after Ms. McMorris Rodgers announced her decision, Mr. Daines followed suit, saying he, too, would certify electoral votes after having previously signed onto a letter saying he and other Republican senators “intend to vote on Jan. 6 to reject the electors” from some states.

“Today is a sad day for our country. The destruction and violence we saw at our Capitol today is an assault on our democracy, our Constitution and the rule of law, and must not be tolerated,” he said in his new statement Wednesday night

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