The situation at the Capitol is getting alarming, as Trump supporters attempt to breach the barricades around the building.
Reporters sitting in the Senate press gallery were informed that, if protesters storm the building, they would be taken into the Senate chamber with the door locked behind them.
Elaine Luria, a Democratic congresswoman from Virginia, said her House office was evacuated due to a report of a pipe bomb outside.
“I don’t recognize our country today and the members of Congress who have supported this anarchy do not deserve to represent their fellow Americans,” Luria said in a tweet.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy also urged the protesters near the Capitol, some of whom have attempted to storm barricades, to “remain peaceful.”
Senator Ted Cruz defended his objection to Arizona’s electoral votes by noting that polling shows 39% of Americans believe the election was rigged.
Of course, the reason that many Americans believe that is because Donald Trump and his allies have spread baseless claims of widespread election fraud without presenting any evidence.
So Cruz is effectively citing Republicans’ faith in the president as evidence of fraud, without presenting any actual evidence of fraud.
McConnell warns blocking certification would ‘damage our republic forever’
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, made an impassioned speech in favor of certification, as the chamber debated an objection to Arizona’s electoral votes.
“I’ve served 36 years in the Senate,” the Republican leader said. “This will be the most important vote I have ever cast.”
McConnell warned that overruling the will of the people in the presidential election would do irreparable harm to American democracy.
“The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. They’ve all spoken,” McConnell said. “If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.”
McConnell also noted that the November election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump was not particularly close, certainly not close enough to raise doubts about the outcome.
“If this election were overturned by mere accusations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” McConnell said.
Criticizing the members of his party who are objecting to the certification, McConnell added, “I will not pretend that such a vote is a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing.”
House offices evacuated as Trump supporters storm Capitol barriers
Capitol Police are ordering two House offices to be evacuated as hundreds of Trump supporters stormed barriers around the building.
Videos showed Trump supporters, who attended today’s “March to Save America” rally in Washington, clashing with police officers on the Capitol steps.
After congressman Paul Gosar raised an objection to Arizona’s electoral votes and confirmed the objection was co-signed by senator Ted Cruz, Republicans offered Gosar a standing ovation in the chamber.
The House and the Senate will now debate Gosar’s objection for up to two hours, and it is expected to be easily defeated.
Republicans raise first objection to electoral college certification
Congressional Republicans have raised their first objection to the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race.
After senator Amy Klobuchar announced Arizona’s 11 electoral votes would go to Biden and Kamala Harris, Paul Gosar, a Republican congressman from Arizona, raised an objection.
Mike Pence asked if Gosar’s objection was co-signed by a senator, as required by law, and Gosar confirmed that it was.
The House and the Senate will now debate the objection for up to two hours. The objection is expected to be easily defeated.
Republicans are also expected to object to the Georgia and Pennsylvania electoral votes, so Congress will go through this process at least three times.
It’s going to be a long day.
Nancy Pelosi opened the joint session by noting that only a limited number of people were allowed on the floor at a time, to comply with social-distancing guidelines.
The Democratic speaker’s announcement was met with grumbling on the Republican side, and congressman Morgan Griffith then posed a parliamentary inquiry to ask how lawmakers were supposed to object if only 11 members are allowed on the floor.
Mike Pence dismissed Griffith’s inquiry by saying that debate is not allowed during such a session. So far, it appears the vice-president plans to oversee the session by adhering very closely to the rules.
Congress convenes to finalize Biden’s victory
Mike Pence, the vice-president, and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, have now taken their places to oversee the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
The electoral college votes have made their way to the House floor to be formally counted.
Pence says he will not try to block certification of Biden’s victory
Mike Pence has released a letter announcing that he will not attempt to block the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory today.
Citing his constitutional obligations, Pence writes that the vice-president does not have the “unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted”.
“Our Founders were deeply skeptical of concentrations of power and created a Republic based on separation of powers and checks and balances,” Pence said.
“Vesting the VP with unilateral authority to decide presidential contests would be entirely antithetical to that design.”
Donald Trump has repeatedly pressured Pence to try to block Congress from finalizing Biden’s victory, even though there is no precedent for doing so.
The president said moments ago at the “March to Save America” rally in Washington, “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our constitution.”
If Merrick Garland is confirmed as attorney general, it would open up a seat on the highly influential US court of appeals for the District of Columbia circuit.
The appeals court is often seen as a training ground for the supreme court, and Joe Biden’s team has reportedly already discussed who should be nominated to fill Garland’s seat.
NBC News reports:
With Democrats expected to win a Senate majority after strong showings in both of Georgia’s runoff races, they would likely have an easier path in both confirming Garland as attorney general — and the nominee eventually named to replace him on the court.
Biden advisers have discussed Ketanji Brown Jackson, currently a judge on the U.S. District Court for D.C., to replace Garland on the D.C. Circuit court, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The Guardian is still waiting on an official AP race call in the second Georgia Senate election, but Jon Ossoff has slightly grown his lead over David Perdue.
The Democratic candidate now has 17,567 more votes than his Republican opponent, representing a lead of 0.4 points.
If Ossoff’s lead ends up being more than 0.5 points, the race will be outside of recount territory.
Raphael Warnock, who has already been declared the winner of his election, currently leads Kelly Loeffler by 1.2 points, so that race will not be eligible for a recount either.
Donald Trump is putting the pressure on Mike Pence, who will oversee the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory today.
Speaking to attendees of the “March to Save America” rally in Washington, Trump said the vice-president needs to “come through” for his supporters.
“Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution,” Trump said.
The president went on to say that Pence could send the election back to the states to re-certify the results, but that has never been done by any vice-president in US history.
Pence has reportedly told Trump that he has no power to influence the outcome of the certification because the role of the vice-president at today’s session is more ceremonial than anything.
Biden to nominate Merrick Garland as attorney general – reports
Joe Biden has selected federal judge Merrick Garland as his nominee to lead the justice department, according to multiple reports.
Biden selected Garland over former Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, choosing to elevate the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals in D.C. to run the Justice Department. …
In a Republican-controlled Senate, Jones was viewed as the easiest candidate to get confirmed given his strong relationships across the aisle. Garland was also considered a risk in that it would be difficult to confirm a replacement for him on the appellate court.
But with Democrats expected to have won the majority with a pair of upset victories in Georgia, confirmation issues with other candidates largely dissipated.
Barack Obama nominated Garland to the supreme court in 2015, after the death of Antonin Scalia, but Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to consider his nomination. After Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, Scalia’s seat was ultimately filled by Neil Gorsuch.
Trump says he will ‘never concede’ as Congress nears certifying Biden’s win
Donald Trump is now speaking to attendees of the “March to Save America” rally in Washington, less than an hour before Congress will convene to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
The president reiterated his baseless claims of widespread fraud in the election, telling rally attendees, “We will never give up, we will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
Of course, Trump and his allies have failed to produce any evidence of widespread fraud in the November election.
And although some congressional Republicans intend to object to the certification of Biden’s win today, they have no path to actually blocking the president-elect from taking office.
The fact remains that Biden’s victory will be certified today, and he will be sworn in on January 20.
•Jon Ossoff is closing in on victory in the Georgia US Senate race. The Democrat was leading by more than 17,000 votes on Wednesday morning. A victory for Ossoff would tie the US Senate 50-50, effectively handing control to Democrats as Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris would have the tie-breaking vote.
•Raphael Warnock won his Senate election overnight, defeating Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler. He becomes the first Black Democratic senator to be elected from the south and Georgia’s first ever Black senator. In a victory speech Warnock noted that his mother, who had been a teenage sharecropper, had voted for him. “The 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” Warnock said.
•Joe Biden congratulated Warnock and promised “urgent action” on a fresh Covid relief bill. “I have long said that the bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill passed in December was just a down payment. We need urgent action on what comes next, because the COVID-19 crisis hits red states and blue states alike.”
•Thousands of Trump supporters have gathered in Washington for what is a doomed attempt to have Congress reject Joe Biden as president. Congress is meeting to certify each state’s election results, but a dozen Republican senators have announced they will join with conspiracy-minded members of the House of Representatives to reject the outcome of certain states.