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Congress confirms Biden's win after pro-Trump mob's assault on Capitol

Overnight, Trump acknowledged the results of the November election but again made false claims about the vote.
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WASHINGTON — Congress formally confirmed President-elect Joe Biden's election win early Thursday following the storming of the Capitol by a violent mob of President Donald Trump's supporters.

The House and Senate reconvened overnight after they were forced to pause the official count of the Electoral College votes and flee when Trump's followers stormed the building. The count of Biden's 306 votes to President Donald Trump's 232 was finished in proceedings that lasted until 3:40 a.m. Vice President Mike Pence read the totals to cap a somber end to an unforgettable day in Washington.

Minutes after, Trump acknowledged the results and said "there will be an orderly transition on January 20th."

In a statement released by the White House, the president again made false claims about the outcome of the election but said that this month will bring to end "the greatest first term in presidential history."

Twitter had suspended Trump's account for 12 hours after he continued to push conspiracy theories about the election following the chaos at the Capitol.

Earlier, lawmakers were forced to pause the official count of the Electoral College votes and flee when Trump's followers stormed the building. A woman was shot inside the Capitol by a police officer and later died, the National Guard was activated and the mayor ordered a 12-hour curfew in the city that began at 6 p.m.

Three other adults died after what are believed to be some type of medical emergencies around the Capitol grounds, the Washington, D.C., police chief said.

The riots had interrupted debate in both chambers about a Republican objection to the Arizona results, which in the end was soundly defeated.

In reconvening the Senate after order had been restored, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the nation's government had faced down greater threats than what he called an "unhinged crowd."

"I want to say to the American people: The United States Senate will not be intimidated," McConnell said.

During the counting of the votes, representatives raised objections about some other states, but these were not entertained because senators either withdrew or did not sign on after the day's chaos. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., signed on to an objection to Pennsylvania's result but it was defeated in both chambers.

The Senate voted to reject the objection to the results in Arizona by a lopsided vote of 93-6, and the House rejected the objection 303-121. In the Pennsylvania objection, the Senate rejected it 92-7 and it failed in the House 282-138.

The senators who voted in favor of the Arizona objection were Hawley; Ted Cruz of Texas; John Kennedy of Louisiana; Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi; Roger Marshall of Kansas; and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

The senators who voted for the Pennsylvania objection were Cruz; Hawley; Hyde-Smith; Marshall; Tuberville; and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming; and Rick Scott of Florida.

The chaos of the day appeared to leave a searing impression among lawmakers after they reconvened, including some Republicans who dropped their objections to counting Biden electors.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who had previously said he planned to object to counting Biden electors unless a commission was formed to audit the results, conceded Wednesday evening that his effort would fail.

Lankford had been in the middle of his speech supporting the objection against counting Arizona’s electoral votes when the Capitol was breached and lawmakers had to be whisked to safety.

"Obviously, the commission that we've asked for is not going to happen at this point, and I understand that," Lankford said. "And we're headed towards tonight — towards the certification of Joe Biden, who will be the president of the United States."

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Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., an appointed senator who lost her election runoff Tuesday night, said that she had intended to object to Biden electors but that "the events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider" and that she "cannot in good conscience" follow through.

Loeffler nonetheless doubled down on the false claims that there were "last-minute changes" and "serious irregularities" in the election.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a Trump ally and frequent golfing partner, said Biden was lawfully elected, and it's time to accept that.

"Count me out. Enough is enough," he said. "We've got to end it."

Daylong spectacle

The chaos began as the House and the Senate separately debated the objection. The ugly daylong spectacle, which replaced what is typically a half-hour procedural event, was the culmination of a Trump-led effort, supported by over 100 members of Congress, to contest Biden's victory.

Electoral College votes began being officially counted Wednesday at 1 p.m. in a joint session of Congress, where Republican allies of Trump began to object to the votes' being counted from numerous states that Biden won despite pushback from McConnell and Pence.

IMAGE: Pro-Trump rally in Washington
People attend a rally in support of President Donald Trump in Washington on Wednesday.Allan Smith / NBC News

The first objection, to Arizona's vote, took place minutes into the proceeding, as Trump-supporting protesters, egged on by the president, descended on the Capitol. After the protesters breached the Capitol steps and began to clash with police, parts of the building were placed on lockdown, the congressional tally was paused and Pence was taken to a secure location.

Demonstrators could be seen from the third floor walking past barricades up to the building, where Capitol Police officers began running into the hallways and shouting at staff to get away from the windows, saying rioters had breached the building, and they should take cover.

Shouting could be heard several floors down. Senate staff members then began locking the doors to the Senate chamber. A recording then began playing announcing that there was a security threat inside the building and that people should take shelter. Senators were taken to a secure location.

"The scene that we saw on Capitol Hill, the banging, the yelling, the screaming, the demands to enter the chamber of the United States Congress — those are the sorts of things that happen in third-world nations," said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va.

Before the vote count, Trump urged thousands of his supporters at a rally near the White House to head to the Capitol to make sure their "voices are heard." Trump, who has falsely claimed he won the election, spoke for over an hour before the violence broke out.

He repeatedly urged Pence, who had been presiding over the vote count, to throw out states' votes or somehow send them back to the states, which he does not have the power to do.

"Mike Pence has to come through for us," he said. "If he doesn't that will be a sad day for our country."

In a statement sent as Trump was still speaking, Pence indicated that he would not join Trump's effort.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the day would be "a stain on our country, not so easily washed away," and he called Trump "undoubtedly our worst" president in history.

Reps. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Ted Lieu, D-Calif., circulated a letter among colleagues urging Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump unfit for office, which could lead to his early removal.

Electors already cast their votes on Dec. 14.