Congress completes certifying presidential election after pro-Trump mob shuts down US Capitol

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The United States Congress continued its proceedings to certify the presidential election results Wednesday evening after an insurrection supporting President Donald Trump shut down the Capitol.

The effort to halt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was not successful, as Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers from both parties criticized the violent protesters for storming the Capitol building and Congress resumed its business, affirming Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the winners.

The mob caused a lockdown of the Capitol and the evacuation of the chambers Wednesday afternoon. Lawmakers and staff were taken to secure locations amid the uncontrolled demonstration.

Washington, D.C. police said four people died: a woman after being shot, and three others because of medical emergencies.

“The United States and the United States Congress have faced much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. “We’ve never been deterred before, and we will not be deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed.”

Wednesday’s actions were the byproduct of Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud, which he has shared without evidence. Trump said at a rally in the nation’s capital he will not concede to Biden.

“Our country has had enough,” Trump said. “We will not take it anymore, and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal.”

Senate Democrats and some Republicans blamed the president for the riot, which overwhelmed law enforcement.

“This president bears a great deal of the blame,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “This mob was in good part President Trump’s doing, incited by his words, his lies. This violence, in good part, is his responsibility and his everlasting shame.”

Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey described Trump as a demagogue on the Senate floor, and fellow Republican Mitt Romney of Utah said Trump incited the violence.

“We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning,” Romney said.

Trump has pushed an ill-fated attempt to remain in office; Republican allies have stated support for challenging the electoral votes, and Trump has argued the vice president can reject electors, which they cannot.

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., announced opposition to challenging the election results ahead of Wednesday.

“We are okay and ready to get back to the Senate chamber to finish our work,” Manchin tweeted during the lockdown. “These thugs cannot and will not run us off. We will continue to govern.”

Capito, who said Monday it was time for the country to unite, also spoke against the violence, as did Republican Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller.

“There is no room in our democracy for this kind of violence, and they should be prosecuted,” Miller said in an audio clip sent to MetroNews.

Mooney shared an image on social media of an escape hood worn by lawmakers as they moved through the Capitol.

McKinley voted to certify the election results in all states; he noted while he has concerns about how states conducted their elections, Congress does not have the authority to reject certified results.

“Look, I don’t like the results of this election at all. Like most West Virginians I voted for President Trump and am deeply disappointed at the outcome of the election. I am angry and frustrated at what happened with the states in question. However, that does not mean I can deviate from the limited role laid out by the Constitution,” he said in a statement.

“Protecting the integrity of our elections and maintaining the confidence of American voters is fundamental to the health of our country. Congress and state legislatures must take steps now to address the flaws that have been clearly identified and make sure they can’t happen in the future. The American people deserve peace of mind that national elections are uniform, fair, and transparent. In so doing we can restore confidence in the electoral process.”

The U.S. Senate voted 93-6 against a challenge to Arizona’s votes; Manchin and Capito opposed rejecting the votes. The House voted 303-121 in opposition to the effort, with Miller among 121 Republicans supporting the objection.

Manchin and Capito also voted against an objection to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes; the challenge failed 92-7.  The House rejected the motion 282-138 with only Republican legislators in favor of objection.

“Today was a difficult and dark day in our nation’s history. But let’s be clear — our democracy prevailed,” Manchin said early Thursday morning.

“Late tonight, Congress will certify the results of the 2020 presidential election just as the U.S. Constitution empowers us to do. In just 14 days, there will be a peaceful transition of power. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were legitimately elected and are our next President and Vice President. It is time to come together and begin to move forward as one nation. God bless the United States of America.”

Mooney voted to object to Pennsylvania’s results, citing issues with decisions by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the commonwealth’s secretary of state on mail-in voting.

“Congress has a crucial rule to serve as a check and balance on out-of-control state officials who unilaterally change their state’s laws without a legislature’s consent,” he said. “Congress should not except electors from states where laws were violated, state constitutions were ignored and the legislature was subverted.”

Miller also voted to object Pennsylvania’s votes.

Mooney additionally backed an objection to Nevada’s results because of allegations of non-citizens voting, which Nevada’s secretary of state has dismissed.

Trump urged the protesters to leave the Capitol amid the lockdown, noting in a video his support for the actors and false claims about the presidential election.

Twitter required Trump to delete three tweets and locked his account for 12 hours. The social media company also warned Trump if he violates the platform’s rules again, his account may be permanently suspended. Manchin tweeted Trump should be banned from the platform until Jan. 20, when Biden will become president.

Facebook announced it froze the president’s account for 24 hours for policy violations.

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