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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.
|After a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, the Senate and House voted early Thursday to certify Joseph R. Biden Jr. as winner of the 2020 presidential election. Getty image|
Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' victory early on Thursday, the end of a long day and night marked by chaos and violence in Washington, in which extremists emboldened by President Trump sought to thwart the peaceful transfer of power that has been a hallmark of modern American history by staging a violent insurrection inside the U.S. Capitol.
"To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win," Vice President Mike Pence said, once lawmakers reconvened after many spent hours in lockdown. "Violence never wins. Freedom wins, and this is still the people's house.", said the npr.
Biden and Harris finished with 306 electoral votes, while Trump and Pence had 232. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.
|Mr. Joe Biden was confirmed by the US Congress as the winner of the US presidential election in 2020 - Photo: CNN|
In a statement released just after the certification was finalized, Trump at long last acknowledged his election loss. He said that even though he disagrees with the outcome, "there will be an orderly transition on January 20th."
"I have always said we would continue our ... fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it's only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!"
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.
President Donald Trump committed to "an orderly transition" of power Thursday minutes after Congress confirmed President-elect Joe Biden's election win.
“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 Mr. 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.
How the chaos unfolded
|Police arrested violent protesters in the Capitol area - Photo: Reuters|
The process to affirm President-elect Biden's victory began in the early afternoon. The typically ceremonial affair, an affirmation of the democratic process, was expected to be a bitter-hours long endeavor because of objections planned by President Trump's congressional allies, despite the fact that they were certain to be met with bipartisan defeat.
But as the process began, a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol Wednesday afternoon, bringing the counting of the electoral votes to a halt.
Lawmakers were evacuated from the building as the violent, chaotic scene played out, prompting a citywide curfew. One woman was killed by a Capitol Police officer in the Capitol. Wednesday night, D.C. police said three other people died from medical emergencies in the surrounding area.
Around 8 p.m. ET, hours after the Capitol was breached, lawmakers were cleared to return to finish debate and tallying the Electoral College votes. In separate speeches in their respective chambers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to press ahead with the business at hand.
"We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation. We are back at our posts," McConnell said, adding, "and we're going to do it tonight."
Condemnation of the president
|President Donald Trump walks down the West Wing colonnade from the Oval Office of the White House to the Rose Garden in November. Photo: Reuters file|
For his part, President-elect Biden called on the president to direct his supporters to end what he described as an "unprecedented assault" on democracy that "borders on sedition."
"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 in brief remarks. The president-elect also suggested that President Trump was to blame for the violence, saying that "at the best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite."
As the chaos unfolded, some House Democrats have called for impeaching the president again during his final two weeks in office.
Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota wrote on Twitter that she was drawing up articles of impeachment. "We can't allow him to remain in office, it's a matter of preserving our republic," she wrote. Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline faulted the president for the violence that consumed the Capitol, and said, "We should impeach and convict him tomorrow."
Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark, Democrat of Massachusetts, called the president "a traitor to our country and our Constitution," and called on him to be removed from office "and prevented from further endangering our country and our people."
"After this, we're going to walk down - and I'll be there with you - we're going to walk down, we're going to walk down to the Capitol," Trump said earlier Wednesday, "and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them."
Later Wednesday, he tweeted that "these are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly tweeted for so long."
Twitter later demanded that the tweet and video be removed, and the platform temporarily locked the president's account, threatening to permanently suspend it.
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