Protesters backing US President Donald Trump breached the US Capitol on Wednesday, forcing police to draw weapons amid chaotic scenes and causing a delay in the constitutional process to affirm Joe Biden’s victory in the November election. Follow live updates here...
Trump says there will be an orderly transition
President Donald Trump has said there "will be an orderly transition on January 20th" after Congress concluded the electoral vote count certifying President-elect Joe Biden's victory and after a day of violence when his supporters stormed the US Capitol.
Trump said in a statement tweeted by his social media director Dan Scavino, "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 added: "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."
Trump's account is currently locked by Twitter.
Congress validates Biden's presidential victory
Congress has formally validated Joe Biden's presidential election victory on a day that saw a time-honored ceremony become a nightmare of unprecedented political terror.
The House and Senate certified the Democrat's electoral college win early Thursday after a violent throng of pro-Trump rioters spent hours Wednesday running rampant through the Capitol. A woman was fatally shot, windows were bashed and the mob forced shaken lawmakers and aides to flee the building, shielded by Capitol Police.
The rampage began shortly after President Donald Trump repeated his unfounded claims of election fraud to thousands of rallying demonstrators he'd invited to Washington. Many then surged to the Capitol after he incited them to go there as lawmakers debated the electoral votes.
More than six hours after the violence erupted, lawmakers resumed their session.
Thirteen Republican senators and dozens of GOP representatives had planned to force debate and votes on perhaps six different states' votes.
The assault on the Capitol made some Republicans squeamish about trying to overturn Biden's win, and challenges were lodged only against Arizona and Pennsylvania. Both efforts lost overwhelmingly.
Biden defeated Trump by 306-232 electoral votes and will be inaugurated Jan. 20.
Tempers flare as House debates PA electoral vote
A small group of House lawmakers came close to physically fighting early Thursday morning as the congressional count of electoral votes stretched into the wee hours and a Pennsylvania Democrat charged that Republicans had been telling ``lies'' about his state's votes.
Rep. Morgan Griffiths, R-Va., objected after Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa., said a breach of the Capitol by an angry mob earlier in the day was ‘inspired by lies, the same lies you are hearing in this room tonight.'’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shot down the objection, but a few minutes later Republicans and Democrats streamed to the middle aisle, with around a dozen lawmakers getting close to each other and arguing. But the group quickly broke up when Pelosi called for order on the floor.
President Donald Trump has falsely claimed there was widespread fraud in Pennsylvania and other states and Republicans have echoed those claims as they have challenged electoral votes.
Congress splits up to debate PA vote count
Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri have objected to the counting of Pennsylvania's electoral votes, triggering up to two hours of debate in the House and Senate.
The objections come 11 hours after the congressional count to confirm Democrat Joe Biden's presidential victory began, and after lawmakers had to evacuate both chambers for several hours to escape a mob that had violently breached the Capitol.
Hawley said last week that he would object to Pennsylvania's electoral votes, saying Congress should investigate voter fraud. President Donald Trump has falsely said since his defeat that there was widespread fraud in the election.
Biden won Pennsylvania by just over 80,000 votes. Since the Nov. 3 election, Trump and his allies filed at least a half-dozen lawsuits challenging Biden's win on various grounds, including that many or all of the state's mail-in ballots were illegal.
The lawsuits failed as judge after judge found no violation of state law or constitutional rights, or no grounds to grant an immediate halt to certifying the election.
Two-hour debate to begin
US Republican lawmakers trigger challenge of electoral college outcome in Pennsylvania two-hour debate to begin
Nevada challenge fails
US House Republican challenge to Nevada election results fails in joint congressional session for lack of support from a senator
US House and Senate resume joint session
US House and Senate resume joint session to consider certifying electoral college tally that resulted in Biden winning US presidency
4 died as Trump supporters stormed Capitol
Four people died as supporters of President Donald Trump violently occupied the U.S. Capitol, updates AP.
Washington, D.C., Police Chief Robert Contee said the dead on Wednesday included a woman who was shot by the U.S. Capitol Police, as well as three others who died in “medical emergencies.”
Police said both law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants during the hourslong occupation of the Capitol building before it was cleared Wednesday evening by law enforcement.
Senate rejects challenge to Biden Arizona win
The Senate has overwhelmingly turned aside a challenge to President-elect Joe Biden's victory in Arizona, guaranteeing the result will stand.
The objection to the results in Arizona -- spearheaded by Rep. Paul Gosar and Sen. Ted Cruz -- was rejected 93-6 on Wednesday night. All votes in favor came from Republicans, but after violent protesters mobbed the Capitol earlier Wednesday a number of GOP senators who had planned to support the objection reversed course.
The Republicans raised the objection based on false claims pushed by President Donald Trump and others of issues with the vote in Arizona, which were repeatedly dismissed in Arizona's courts and by the state's election officials.
Violence never wins, freedom wins: Pence
As Congress gavelled back into session after violence and chaos to resume the process of certifying Joe Biden's presidential election victory, Vice President Mike Pence insisted that ‘violence never wins’.
"As we reconvene in this chamber, the world will again witness the resilience and strength of our democracy," Vice President Mike Pence said as he reopened the Senate session.
"To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins, freedom wins," Pence added. "And this is still the people's house."
The House of Representatives also resumed its session, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi telling lawmakers they will stay "as long as it takes" to finish the certification of Electoral College votes, the final formal step affirming Biden's win.
"We must and we will show to the country, and indeed to the world, that we will not be diverted from our duty, that we will respect our responsibility to the constitution and to the American people."
Pelosi: Biden certification an example for world
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress' certification of President-elect Joe Biden's election win will show the world it won't back down.
Pelosi made her comments as the House reconvened after being shut down for hours Wednesday by unruly pro-Trump protesters. She said that every four years the ritual provides an example to the world of American democracy.
Pelosi said: "Despite the shameful actions of today, we will still do so, we will be part of a history that shows the world what America is made of."
New York sends 1,000 troops to Washington
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is sending 1,000 members of the state’s National Guard to Washington, D.C., to help “the peaceful transition of presidential power.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, said 1,000 troops would be sent for up to two weeks at the request of US National Guard officials. It comes after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters rampaged through the US Capitol.
Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday: “For 244 years, the cornerstone of our democracy has been the peaceful transfer of power, and New York stands ready to help ensure the will of the American people is carried out, safely and decisively.”
They will join law enforcement from Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey who are also coming to D.C.’s aid.
McConnell says Congress 'will not be deterred'
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Congress “will not be deterred” in confirming the results of the presidential election hours after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol.
The Republican leader reopened the Senate late Wednesday vowing to finish confirming the Electoral College for President-elect Joe Biden. It was interrupted earlier in the way when rioters breached the security perimeter and clashed with law enforcement before disrupting Congress’ tallying of the Electoral College votes. One person was fatally shot.
McConnell says demonstrators “tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed.”
Facebook joins Twitter in suspending Trump
Twitter and Facebook Inc on Wednesday temporarily locked the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump, as tech giants scrambled to crack down on his baseless claims about the U.S. presidential elections amid riots at the U.S. Capitol.
Twitter hid and required the removal of three of Trump’s tweets “as a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C.,” after pro-Trump protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to force Congress to block the appointment of President-elect Joe Biden.
Facebook later tweeted it would block Trump’s page from posting for 24 hours due to two policy violations.
Twitter locked Trump’s account for 12 hours and said that if the tweets are not removed, the account would remain locked, meaning the president would be unable to tweet from @realDonaldTrump.
Pelosi: Biden win certification to resume ‘tonight’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers will resume counting electoral votes Wednesday (early Thursday UAE time) once the US Capitol is given an all clear, after the certification process was halted when Donald Trump supporters stormed the building.
“We have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues, after reports that the building was secured by police and demonstrators were removed.
The senior lawmaker blasted the storming of the Capitol as a “shameful assault” on American democracy that was “anointed at the highest level of government, but said “it cannot, however, deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden.”
Obama says Capitol violence a 'moment of shame'
Former President Barack Obama says history will rightly remember the violence at the Capitol as a moment of great dishonour and shame for the nation.
Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power.
Obama say the violence was “incited by a sitting president” who baselessly lied about the outcome of the presidential election. He has convinced his supporters that he lost the election to President-elect Joe Biden only because Democrats cheated, a false claim.
Obama says it should not have come as a surprise, and that for two months “a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth.”
He says “their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo.”
Senate resumes Biden debate
The Senate has resumed debating the Republican challenge against Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, more than six hours after pro-Trump mobs attacked the Capitol and forced lawmakers to flee.
Scores of Republican representatives and 13 GOP senators had planned to object Wednesday to the electoral votes of perhaps six states that backed Biden. It was unclear whether those objections would continue in light of the day’s violent events.
President Donald Trump has falsely insisted that the election was marred by fraud and that he actually won. He reiterated those claims in remarks to thousands of protesters outside the White House early Wednesday and goaded them to march to the Capitol, which many of them did.
The mayhem had forced the House and Senate to abruptly end the day’s debates and flee to safety under the protection of police. And it prompted bipartisan outrage as many lawmakers blamed Trump for fostering the violence.
Twitter suspends Trump account
In an unprecedented step, Twitter suspended the account of President Donald Trump for 12 hours Wednesday after he repeatedly posted false accusations about the election after his supporters stormed the Capitol following a Trump rally.
Woman shot inside Capitol dies
A woman who was shot inside the U.S. Capitol during the violent pro-Trump protest has died.
That's according to two officials familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.
The Metropolitan Police Department said it was taking the lead on the shooting investigation. Police did not immediately provide details about the circumstances of the shooting.
Dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump breached the security perimeter and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden's presidential win. They were seen fighting with officers both inside the building and outside.
Hours later, police had declared the Capitol was secured.
Capitol complex 'secure' after violent occupation
Officials have declared the U.S. Capitol complex "secure" after heavily armed police moved to end a nearly four-hour violent occupation by supporters of President Donald Trump.
An announcement saying "the Capitol is secure" rang out Wednesday evening inside a secure location for officials of the House. Lawmakers applauded.
The occupation interrupted Congress' Electoral College count that will formalize President-elect Joe Biden's upcoming inauguration on Jan. 20.
Lawmakers were evacuated to secure locations around the Capitol complex and Washington, D.C. after thousands of Trump supporters breached the building and skirmished with police officers.
Lawmakers have signaled that they would resume the constitutionally mandated count as soon as it was safe to do so.
Police use tear gas to clear Capitol
Police donned gas masks as they moved in Wednesday evening with force to clear protesters from the Capitol grounds shortly before a curfew took hold. In the moments before, there were violent clashes between the police and protesters, who tore railing for the inauguration scaffolding and threw it at the officers.
Police used tear gas and percussion grenades to break up the crowd, which began dispersing.
Dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump breached security perimeter and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote to affirm Democrat Joe Biden's presidential win. They were seen fighting with officers both inside the building and outside.
Police said at least one person was shot inside the Capitol" their condition was not immediately known.
The district's police chief said at least 13 people were arrested, and five firearms had been recovered during the pro-Trump protests on Wednesday.
Pro-Trump demonstrations start across US
Pro-Trump demonstrators have massed outside statehouses across the country, forcing evacuations in at least two states. In St. Paul, Minnesota, cheers rang out from demonstrators in reaction to the news that supporters of President Donald Trump had stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Hundreds of mostly unmasked people people gathered outside capitols on Wednesday with Trump flags and “Stop the Steal” signs. In Georgia and Oklahoma, some demonstrators carried guns.
New Mexico state police evacuated staff from a statehouse building that includes the governor’s and secretary of state’s offices as a precaution shortly after hundreds of flag-waving supporters arrived in a vehicle caravan and on horseback. A spokesperson for the governor4s office says there was no indication of threats at the statehouse.
The staff of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox was sent home as several hundred pro-Trump demonstrators rallied outside the Capitol, though the demonstration remained relatively calm. A brief scuffle between pro-Trump demonstrators, who included members of the Proud Boys, and counterprotesters broke out in Columbus, Ohio, but there was no immediate threat to the Capitol.
Protesters used 'chemical irritants' on police
The police chief of Washington, D.C., says pro-Trump protesters deployed “chemical irritants” on police in order to break into the U.S. Capitol.
Police Chief Robert Contee says officials have declared the scene a riot. One civilian was shot inside the Capitol on Wednesday. Thirteen arrests were made of people from out of the area.
Mayor Muriel Bowser says the behaviour of the Trump supporters was “shameful, unpatriotic and above all is unlawful.” She says, “There will be law and order and this behavior will not be tolerated.”
Metropolitan police have been sent to the Capitol, and authorities were coming in from Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey to help out. The National Guard was also deployed, as were Homeland Security investigators and Secret Service.
Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. He held a rally earlier Wednesday and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people” and saying, “get the weak ones get out” this is the time for strength.”
Democrats win control of Senate
Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff has won his Senate runoff election.
His victory gives Democrats control of the Senate for the opening of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidency. Democrats needed to win both of Georgia’s Senate runoff elections on Tuesday to claim the Senate majority.
The 33-year-old Ossoff defeated 71-year-old Republican David Perdue, who held the seat for the past six years and had the strong support of President Donald Trump.
Trump had called on Georgia Republicans to swarm to the polls for the Republican Senate candidates even as he warned, without evidence, of the prospect of widespread voter fraud.
Biden held his own rally Monday to urge his coalition to turn out for Ossoff, a former congressional aide and journalist.
In the other race, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
With the two Democratic victories, the Senate will have a 50-50 seat split between the parties. But the vice president casts tie-breaking votes, and that will be Democrat Kamala Harris.
Democrats already control the House, and adding the Senate will make it more difficult for Republicans to block Biden’s agenda, along with his Cabinet picks and judicial nominations.
Trump tells protesters to 'go home' in video message
President Donald Trump, in a video message, is urging supporters to “go home” but is also keeping up false attacks about the presidential election.
The video was issued more than two hours after protesters began storming the Capitol on Wednesday as lawmakers convened for an extraordinary joint session to confirm the Electoral College results and President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Trump opened his video, saying, “I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now.”
He also went on to call the supporters “very special.” He also said, “we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”
Republican lawmakers and previous administration officials had begged Trump to give a statement to his supporters to quell the violence. The statement came as authorities struggled to take control of a chaotic situation at the Capitol that led to the evacuation of lawmakers.
Explosive device found near Capitol
At least one explosive device has been found near the U.S. Capitol amid a violent occupation of the building by supporters of President Donald Trump.
Law enforcement officials said the device was no longer a threat Wednesday afternoon.
Thousands of supporters of the president occupied the Capitol complex as lawmakers were beginning to tally the electoral votes that will formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Vice President Mike Pence has called on protesters to leave the Capitol immediately, going further than Trump, who merely called for his supporters to “remain peaceful.”
Biden denounces Capitol violence
US President-elect Joe Biden has called the violent protests on the U.S. Capitol “an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings: the doing of the people’s business.”
Biden also demanded President Donald Trump to immediately make a televised address calling on his supporters to cease the violence that he described as an “unprecedented assault’ as pro-Trump protestors violently occupy U.S. Capitol.
Biden’s condemnation came after violent protesters breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, forcing a delay in the constitutional process to affirm the president-elect’s victory in the November election.
Biden addressed the violent protests as authorities struggled to take control of a chaotic situation at the Capitol that led to the evacuation of lawmakers.
1,100 National Guard troops mobilised
The Pentagon says about 1,100 D.C. National Guard members are being mobilised to help support law enforcement as violent supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol.
Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said Wednesday afternoon that defense leaders have been in contact with the city and congressional leadership.
A defense official said all 1,100 of the D.C. Guard were being activated and sent to the city's armory. The Guard forces will be used at checkpoints and for other similar duties and could also help in the enforcement of the 6 p.m. curfew being implemented tonight in the city.
The officials said the D.C. request for National Guard was not rejected earlier in the day. Instead, according to officials, the Guard members have a very specific mission that does not include putting military in a law enforcement role at the Capitol. As a result, the Guard must be used to backfill law enforcement outside the Capitol complex, freeing up more law enforcement to respond to the Capitol.
Hoffman said the law enforcement response to the violence will be led by the Justice Department.
VP Pence: 'Attack will not be tolerated'
Vice President Mike Pence is calling on protesters to leave the Capitol immediately, going further than President Donald Trump who merely called for his supported to “remain peaceful.”
In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Pence said, “This attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Pence, long a loyal aide to the president, defied Trump earlier Wednesday, tell him he didn’t have the power to discard electoral votes that will make Democrat Joe Biden the next president on Jan. 20. Trump had publicly called on Pence to overturn the will of the voters, but Pence’s constitutional role in the process was only ceremonial.
Angry Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting the peaceful transfer of power. Trump later issued a restrained call for peace but did not ask his supporters to disperse.
Schumer, Pelosi to Trump: Make protesters leave
The top Democrats in Congress are demanding that President Donald Trump order his supporters to leave the Capitol following a chaotic protest aimed at blocking a peaceful transfer of power.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement on Wednesday after violent protesters stormed the Capitol. They said, “We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protestors leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately.”
Trump earlier encouraged his supporters occupying the U.S. Capitol to “remain peaceful,” but he did not call for them to disperse. He held a rally earlier Wednesday in which he repeated his false claims that President-elect Joe Biden had won the election through voter fraud.
He urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people” and saying, “get the weak ones get out” this is the time for strength.”
National Guard on route to Capitol
The White House says National Guard troops along with other federal protective services are en route to the Capitol to help end an violent occupation by President Donald Trump's supporters who are seeking to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election.
Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that "At President @realDonaldTrump's direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services."
She added, "We reiterate President Trump's call against violence and to remain peaceful."
Republican lawmakers have publicly called for Trump to more vocally condemn the violence and to call to an end to the occupation, which halted a joint session of Congress where lawmakers were beginning to count electoral votes.
Trump lost the November election to Democrat Joe Biden. He has refused to concede and has worked over the last two months to convince his supporters that widespread voter fraud prevented his own victory.
Republicans urge Trump to deescalate violence
Republican lawmakers are increasingly calling on President Donald Trump to act to deescalate the violent protests at the U.S. Capitol by his supporters angry about his election loss.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he spoke with the president earlier Wednesday and told him to make a statement to “make sure that we can calm individuals down.”
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that “it is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down.”
Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey told The Associated Press that while he sympathizes with the protesters’ position, they shouldn’t get violent, and it would be “nice” if Trump called on them to “protest in a peaceful way in an appropriate spot, where you belong, where you should be.”
Many Republicans had backed Trump’s false claims of widespread voter spread to explain away his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden.
Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, of Wisconsin, posted a video message urging Trump to “call it off.”
“This is Banana Republic crap that we’re watching right now,” said Gallagher, who had spoken out against objections from fellow Republicans to certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College vote.
Homeland Security sends in extra federal agents
The Department of Homeland Security is sending additional federal agents to the U.S. Capitol to help quell violence from supporters of President Donald Trump who are protesting Congress' formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden's win.
A spokesperson told The Associated Press on Wednesday that officers from the Federal Protective Service and U.S. Secret Service agents are being sent to the scene. He says they were requested to assist by U.S. Capitol Police.
Dozens of Trump supporters breached security perimeters and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden's presidential win. They were seen fighting with officers both inside the building and outside.
Trump has riled up his supporters by falsely claiming widespread voter fraud to explain his loss.
Georgia officials evacuate offices at state Capitol
Georgia’s secretary of state and his staff have evacuated their offices at the state Capitol as armed protesters gathered outside.
Gabriel Sterling, a top elections official, said Wednesday that it was an internal decision made by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to have his team leave.
“We saw stuff happening at the Georgia Capitol and said we should not be around here, we should not be a spark,” Sterling told The Associated Press.
About 100 protesters gathered at the state Capitol in Atlanta on Wednesday to protest President Donald Trump’s election loss. Some were armed with long guns.
Trump has focused much of his ire on Raffensperger in the weeks following his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in Georgia by about 12,000 votes.
One person shot amid Capitol chaos
One person has been shot at the US Capitol as dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building and violently clashed with police.
That's according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity amid a chaotic situation.
The exact circumstances surrounding the shooting were unclear. The person said the victim had been taken to a hospital. Their condition was not known.
The shooting came as dozens of Trump supporters breached security perimeters and entered the U.S. Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden's presidential win. Trump has riled up his supporters by falsely claiming widespread voter fraud to explain his loss.
Pressure mounts on Trump to condemn violence
Pressure is mounting on US President Donald Trump to condemn supporters who are violently clashing with law enforcement on Capitol Hill.
Among those urging Trump to act: his former communications director, Alyssa Farah, who tweeted that Trump should "Condemn this now."
She says, "you are the only one they will listen to. For our country!"
Dozens of people have breached security perimeters at the Capitol, forcing the lockdown of the building and halting the vote to certify Joe Biden's presidential victory.
Trump has so far offered a single tweet asking his supporters to "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!"
His former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tweeted: "The President's tweet is not enough. He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home."
His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, also addressed Trump supporters in a tweet, calling them the "patriots challenging the fraudulent election" and telling them that "POTUS wants you to EXPRESS YOUR OPINION PEACEFULLY."
Lawmakers told to don gas masks
Members of Congress inside the House chamber were told by police to put on gas masks after tear gas was dispersed in the Capitol Rotunda amid skirmishes by supporters of President Donald Trump
Pro-Trump protestors breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, violently clashing with law enforcement as lawmakers were gathered inside to formalize President-elect Joe Biden's victory in November's presidential election.
Law enforcement instructed lawmakers to retrieve masks from under their seats amid the clashes. The Capitol building was placed on lockdown, as Trump supporters marched through evacuated public spaces in the building.
After egging on protests, Trump tweeted to his supporters to "stay peaceful" as they violently clash with law enforcement and breached the Capitol building.
Trump urged his supporters to come to Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of Biden’s win. Several Republican lawmakers have backed his calls, despite there being no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing in the election.
Protesters inside Senate chamber
Protesters are now inside the Senate chamber. One got up on the dais and yelled “Trump won that election.”
Several dozen are roaming through the halls, yelling, “Where are they?”
Some were also in the visitors’ galleries.
Skirmishes follow Trump speech
The skirmishes came shortly after Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud.
Protesters could be seen marching through the Capitol's stately Statuary Hall shouting and waving Trump banners and American flags.
Some House lawmakers tweeted they were sheltering in place in their offices.
Reporters and others outside the chamber were told to go their seats inside and not leave.
An announcement was played inside the Capitol as lawmakers were meeting and expected to vote to affirm Joe Biden's victory. Due to an "external security threat," no one could enter or exit the Capitol complex, the recording said.
Both chambers abruptly went into recess.
The skirmishes occurred outside in the very spot where president-elect Biden will be inaugurated in just two weeks.
Protesters tore down metal barricades at the bottom of the Capitol's steps and were met by officers in riot gear. Some tried to push past the officers who held shields and officers could be seen firing pepper spray into the crowd to keep them back. Some in the crowd were shouting "traitors" as officers tried to keep them back.
"We will not let them silence your voices," Trump earlier told the protesters, who had lined up before sunrise to get a prime position to hear the president.
The top Republican in Congress earlierdelivered a stinging rebuke to Trump loyalists in his party who have objected to final certification of Biden's presidential victory, warning such a move could prompt a "death spiral" for US democracy.
"If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral - we'd never see the whole nation accept an election again," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in some of his most forceful floor remarks in years.
"The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken. If we overrule them, it will damage our republic forever," McConnell said, minutes after Republicans objected to certification of Arizona's Electoral College votes for Biden, citing unproven allegations of election fraud.
Republican lawmakers mounted their first official challenge to Biden's presidential election win Wednesday, objecting to state results from Arizona as they took up Trump's relentless effort to overturn the election results in an extraordinary joint session of Congress.
Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, flanked by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, rose to object to the typically routine acceptance of electors.
The objection now forces two hours of debate in the House and Senate, sending lawmakers away to separate deliberations.
Trump's allies are acting out the pleas of supporters at his huge rally up Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House to "fight for Trump." But it's a fight that's tearing the Republican Party apart.
The last-gasp effort is all but certain to fail, defeated by bipartisan majorities in Congress prepared to accept the November results. Biden, who won the Electoral College 306-232, is to be inaugurated Jan. 20.
Still, Trump vowed to he would "never concede'' and urged the massive crowd to march to the Capitol where hundreds had already gathered under tight security.
"We will never give up,'' Trump told the rally.
Vice President Mike Pence was most closely watched as he stepped onto the dais to preside over the joint session in the House chamber.
Pence has a largely ceremonial role, opening the sealed envelopes from the states after they are carried in mahogany boxes used for the occasion, and reading the results aloud. But he was under growing pressure from Trump to overturn the will of the voters and tip the results in the president's favor, despite having no legal power to affect the outcome.
"Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!'' Trump tweeted Wednesday.
But Pence, in a statement shortly before presiding, defied Trump, saying he could not claim "unilateral authority" to reject the electoral votes that make Biden president.
Despite Trump's repeated claims of voter fraud, election officials and his own former attorney general have said there were no problems on a scale that would change the outcome. All the states have certified their results as fair and accurate, by Republican and Democratic officials alike.
Arizona was the first of several states facing objections from the Republicans as Congress took an alphabetical reading of the election results.
Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes, and eight lawsuits challenging the results have failed. The state's Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of an election challenge.
The joint session of Congress, required by law, convened before a watchful, restless nation - months after the election, two weeks before the inauguration's traditional peaceful transfer of power and against the backdrop of a surging COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawmakers were told by Capitol officials to arrive early, due to safety precautions with protesters in Washington. Hundreds of Trump supporters filled the Capitol plaza area and sidewalks, many bearing enormous flags and few wearing masks. Visitors, who typically fill the galleries to watch landmark proceedings, will not be allowed under COVID-19 restrictions.
The session also comes as overnight results from Georgia's runoff elections put Democrats within reach of a Senate majority.
The current majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who tried to warn his Republican Party off this challenge, was expected to deliver early remarks. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it a day of "enormous historic significance,'' about "guaranteeing trust in our democratic system."
With the Senate results from Georgia streaming in and Democrats within reach of controlling the chamber, Trump amplified his pleas to stay in office as a veto check on the rival party. At the rally he said he had just talked to Pence and criticized Republicans who are not willing to fight for him as "weak.''
While other vice presidents, including Al Gore and Richard Nixon, also presided over their own defeats, Pence supports those Republican lawmakers mounting challenges to the 2020 outcome.
It's not the first time lawmakers have challenged results. Democrats did in 2017 and 2005. But the intensity of Trump's challenge is like nothing in modern times, and an outpouring of current and elected GOP officials warn the showdown is sowing distrust in government and eroding Americans' faith in democracy.
Still, more than a dozen Republican senators led by Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, along with as many as 100 House Republicans, are pressing ahead to raise objections to individual states' reports of Biden's wins.
Under the rules of the joint session, any objection to a state's electoral tally needs to be submitted in writing by at least one member of the House and one of the Senate to be considered. Each objection will force two hours of deliberations in the House and Senate, ensuring a long day.
House Republican lawmakers are signing on to objections to the electoral votes in six states: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Arizona will likely be the first to be disputed as the state tallies are announced in alphabetical order. Cruz has said he will join House Republicans in objecting to that state, even as he acknowledged the effort will not have the votes to succeed.
"Extraordinarily uphill," he said late Tuesday on Fox News.
Hawley has said he will object to the election results from Pennsylvania, almost ensuring a second two-hour debate despite resistance from the state's Republican senator, Pat Toomey, who said the tally of Biden's win is accurate.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler may challenge the results in her state of Georgia. She was defeated in Georgia's runoff to Democrat Raphael Warnock, but can remain a senator until he is sworn into office.
The other Senate runoff race between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff remained too early to call Wednesday, though Ossoff declared he won. Perdue, who was seeking reelection, is ineligible to vote in the Senate because his term expired with the start of the new Congress Sunday.
The group led by Cruz is vowing to object unless Congress agrees to form a commission to investigate the election, but that seems unlikely.
Those with Cruz are Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
Many of the Republicans challenging the results said they are trying to give voice to voters back home who don't trust the outcome of the election and want to see the lawmakers fighting for Trump.
Hawley defended his role saying his constituents have been "loud and clear'' about their distrust of the election. "It is my responsibility as a senator to raise their concerns," he wrote to colleagues.
As criticism mounted, Cruz insisted his aim was "not to set aside the election'' but to investigate the claims of voting problems. He has produced no new evidence.
Both Hawley and Cruz are potential 2024 presidential contenders, vying for Trump's base of supporters.