Senate rejects Trump loyalists’ challenge to Biden’s win in Arizona

The Senate voted late Wednesday to reject Trump loyalists’ challenge to Biden’s win in Arizona. Congress’s process of counting the votes and affirming the president-elect’s victory had resumed after pro-Trump rioters attacked the Capitol.
In rare remarks from the dais, Vice President Pence, who earlier in the day had rebuffed President Trump’s demands to intervene in the count, had said, “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”

In a letter to colleagues hours after the siege at the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) described the attack as “a shameful assault … on our democracy. It was anointed at the highest level of government. It cannot, however, deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden.”

Here’s what to know:

  • Pro-Trump rioters forced their way through security barricades, breaking windows, climbing on rafters, ripping down U.S. flags and roaming the Senate chamber.
  • The angry mob disrupted debate over Republican objections to the electoral college results. A mob breached security and entered the building, where one person was shot and later died.
  • The chaotic scene began shortly after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued an emotional plea for his colleagues to affirm Biden’s win and abandon efforts to subvert the results.
  • Congressional Democrats and some Republicans accused Trump of inciting a “coup.”
  • Trump had told supporters at a midday rally that he would “never concede” and voiced hope that Vice President Pence would intervene to reverse the electoral college results.
  • Here is where Senate Republicans stand on counting the electoral college vote.
  • Election results are under attack: Here are the facts.

10:21 PM: Sen. Lindsey Graham: ‘Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected’

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who spoke on the floor just before the chamber voted on the challenge to counting Arizona’s 11 electoral votes for Biden, said the effort to object to the president-elect’s victory “is not going to do any good, is going to delay, and gives credibility to a dark chapter of our history.”

“That’s why I’m not with you,” Graham said. “But I will fight to my death for your ability to object. … I just think it’s a uniquely bad idea to delay this election.”

Graham, a close ally of the president, acknowledged he and Trump have had “a hell of a journey,” and called him a “consequential president.”

Moments after Graham spoke, the Senate rejected the challenge to Arizona’s 11 electoral votes.

“All I can say is, count me out, enough is enough, ” Graham said. “… When it’s over, it is over.”

He said that he had hoped Biden would not win the presidential election.

“I prayed he would lose — he won,” Graham said. “He’s the legitimate president of the United States.”

“I cannot convince people, certain groups, by my words. But I will tell you by my actions,” he said. “… Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and the vice president of the United States on January the 20th.”

By: Paulina Firozi

10:17 PM: Senate rejects challenge to Arizona electoral votes

The Senate rejected a challenge to counting Arizona’s 11 electoral votes for Biden after resuming a debate that was interrupted hours earlier by an angry mob intent on stopping Congress from validating Biden’s victory.

The challenge fell 93 to 6 with Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Cindy Hyde Smith (Miss.), John Kennedy (La.), Roger Marshall (Kan.) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) objecting.

Pence announced the vote tally, declaring that, “the objection is not sustained.” The House, which was still debating, would be notified that the Senate was ready to proceed with the counting of the electoral votes.

The tenor of the debate had dramatically shifted when the senators returned to the chamber after being held in lockdown while rioters roamed and desecrated the Capitol.

In the afternoon, tensions had been high over the decision of more than a dozen GOP senators to contest the results of the presidential election. But hours later, several expressed a change of heart and were no longer interested in objecting to Biden’s win.

Cruz had led the effort in the Senate to force a debate over the Arizona tally, a mostly theatrical move to temporarily halt the congressional count of electoral votes and force debate. In the end, only five other GOP senators joined him in the effort.

By: Colby Itkowitz

9:48 PM: McCarthy says violence is ‘unacceptable’ and ‘un-American,’ urges lawmakers to address election integrity

“Congress will not be the same after today,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told his fellow lawmakers Wednesday night, adding that he hoped the institution would change for the better.

“The violence, destruction and chaos we saw earlier was unacceptable, undemocratic and un-American. It was the saddest day I’ve ever had serving as a member of this institution,” he said. “I hope every American pauses for a moment and thinks among themselves: We can disagree with one another but not dislike each other. We can respect the voices of others.”

McCarthy thanked first responders and a handful of lawmakers who helped keep rioters out of the chamber, then went on to make remarks with more of a partisan tinge — suggesting that Republicans and Democrats should work together to address the kinds of allegations about the election that helped create Wednesday’s violence.

“We should raise the issue about integrity and accountability and accuracy in our elections … not just raise the issue, work together to solve the problems,” he said. “Now is the moment to show America we can work best together.”

McCarthy also appeared at one point to compare the pro-Trump mob to the protests against police violence in American cities last year.

“Let me be very clear: Mobs don’t rule America, laws rule America,” he said. “It was true when our cities were burning this summer, and it’s true now.”

By: Mike DeBonis

9:39 PM: Mitt Romney: Siege of Capitol was ‘an insurrection incited by the president’

Romney calls Capitol mob ‘an insurrection incited by the President of the United States’

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) laid the blame for the violence at the Capitol squarely at the feet of President Trump, and called on his colleagues to unanimously certify Joe Biden’s win.

“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,” Romney said in an impassioned floor speech Wednesday night. “What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States.”

Romney praised his Republican colleagues who had changed their minds about objecting to the confirmation of the results and pleaded with them not to call for a congressional audit when election officials and courts all over the country had already repeatedly confirmed the truth: that Biden had won the election.

“No congressional audit is ever going to convince these voters. … The best way we can show respect to voters who are upset is by telling them the truth,” Romney said to applause. “That’s the burden, that’s the duty of leadership.”

By: Amy B Wang

9:26 PM: Sen. Duckworth calls Trump a ‘petty, insecure, wannabe tinpot dictator’

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who lost both her legs serving in the Iraq War, delivered a blunt takedown of Trump and the Republicans who have peddled in false conspiracies about the presidential election.

“Here’s one thing I know,” she said. “It’s that my troops didn’t sign up to defend our democracy in war zones thousands of miles away, only to watch it crumble in these hallowed halls here at home.”

She accused some of her GOP colleagues of caring more about “appeasing Trump,” and said they don’t get to uphold their duties only when “it helped us to avoid the wrath of a petty, insecure, wannabe tinpot dictator on the precipice of losing power and relevance.”

Duckworth also addressed the pro-Trump rioters who stormed the Capitol, attempting to thwart Congress’s confirmation of Biden’s victory.

“I have spent my entire adult life defending our democracy, but I never, never thought it would be necessary to defend it from an attempt at violent overthrow in our nation’s own Capitol building,” she said. “Well, I refuse to let anyone intent on instigating chaos or inciting violence deter me from carrying out my constitutional duties.”

By: Colby Itkowitz

9:24 PM: Georgia’s largest county pauses its vote counting amid concerns for officials’ safety

ATLANTA — Fulton County paused its vote counting Wednesday evening amid concerns for officials’ security after a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol and protesters gathered outside the Georgia Capitol.

Elections staff were in the middle of adjudicating the county’s last batch of ballots, one of the final phases of the tally, when they decided to postpone.

“Out of an abundance of caution we have ceased all ballot processing and tabulation for the remainder of the day,” said Regina Waller, a spokesperson for the agency. “We have also closed all of our offices in downtown Atlanta.”

Waller did not say when the count would resume.

The elections department’s downtown headquarters sits just blocks away from the Georgia Capitol, where Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff were escorted from their offices out of concern for their safety.

Fulton County spokesperson Jessica Corbitt told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that weeks’ worth of attacks from President Trump and violent threats from his supporters pushed them to pause. Trump has singled out Fulton repeatedly and did so numerous times when he called Raffensperger last weekend to pressure him to overturn the state’s election results.

“We have a strong basis for concern based on security threats over recent weeks as well as awareness that there are people, including the president himself, who have singled out Fulton County as a cause for the outcome of the presidential election,” Corbitt said.

Elections Director Richard Barron has said that in the run-up to Election Day, workers were harassed by phone and on social media, where people repeatedly hurled racial slurs at them.

And last week, Barron said, a man in Tennessee called the elections office and threatened to detonate a bomb at one of Fulton County’s polling sites.

“The person said the Nashville bombing was a practice run for what we’d see today at one of our polling places,” Barron said.

The department forwarded the threat to the FBI, which Barron said searched the man’s home but did not make an arrest. The FBI declined to comment.

By: Reis Thebault

9:21 PM: Cory Booker on a wounded democracy: ‘We brought this hell upon ourselves’

In a fiery floor speech after the Senate reconvened to confirm the electoral college count, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said that the violence at the Capitol was the result of a “cultish personality” and those who had enabled Trump in fanning the flames of conspiracy theories.

He cited the only two times in American history that the Capitol had been besieged: Once during the War of 1812 and the other Wednesday afternoon. In both instances, he said, rioters waved flags to a “sole sovereign” and surrendered democratic principles to a cultish personality.

Unlike in 1812, though, “this time we brought this hell upon ourselves,” Booker said.

Booker rebuked those who had enabled Trump to claim that the election was rigged, fueling the falsehoods that motivated the rioters who stormed the Capitol earlier in the day.

“The shame of this day is it’s being aided and abetted by good Americans who are falling prey, who are choosing Trump over truth, who are surrendering to the passion of lies as opposed to standing up and speaking truth to power, who are trying to fundraise off of the shame of conspiracy theories as opposed to doing the incalculable thing of value, which is to speak truth to our nation,” Booker said.

Booker invoked the late civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.).

“How will we confront this shame? How will we confront this dark second time in American history?” he said. “I pray that we remember a Georgian and his words. All I can say is we must in spirit join together like those Georgians on a bridge called the Edmund Pettus, who joined hands, who were called threats to our democracy, who were called outrageous epithets when they sought to expand our democracy, to save it, to heal it, when they joined arm and arm and they said what we should say now, commit ourselves to that ideal, that together we shall overcome.”

By: Amy B Wang

9:20 PM: Pelosi brings House back into session, vows that ‘justice will be done’

Pelosi brought the House back into session at 9 p.m. Wednesday, more than six hours after the proceedings were suddenly halted by an advancing mob.

She vowed to complete the business at hand.

“To those who engaged in the gleeful desecration of this, our temple of democracy, American democracy, justice will be done,” she said.

“Every four years … we demonstrate again the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next,” Pelosi added. “And despite the shameful actions of today, we still will do so — we will be part of a history that shows the world what America is made of.”

Pelosi ended her brief remarks with a prayer: “Let us pray that there will be peace on Earth, and that it will begin with us. Let us pray that God will continue to bless America.”

By: Mike DeBonis

8:59 PM: Loeffler, other Republicans now say they will vote to confirm Biden’s electoral college win after rioters storm Capitol

Outgoing Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) reversed course on her planned objection to Biden’s electoral college win after the Senate on Wednesday evening resumed the process of affirming Biden’s win.

She cited the scene in Washington, as some of the president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

“When I arrived in Washington this morning, I fully intended to object to the certification of the electoral votes,” Loeffler said. “However, the events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider. And I cannot now in good conscience object to the certification of these electors.”

Loeffler received applause from colleagues after yielding the floor.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who had planned to reject electors from certain states, did not explicitly change his position, but said: “The peaceful people in my state of Oklahoma want their questions answered. But they don’t want this, what happened today.”

“Obviously the commission that we have asked for is not going to happen at this point,” Lankford said. “And I understand that, and we’re headed towards tonight, towards the certification of Joe Biden to be the president of the United States.”

Before the Senate resumed its proceedings, other Republican senators who had previously supported the electoral college protest said they decided to drop their objections after the siege of the Capitol.

“Whatever point you made before, that should suffice,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) told reporters, explaining that the siege “did change things drastically” and that he wanted to “get this ugly day behind us.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a close ally of the president, also told reporters that “in light of events, there’s a bit of a different attitude” about continuing the objection to the election results.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) released a statement earlier Wednesday that indicated he would vote to confirm Biden’s electoral votes, a reversal after joining others who said they would reject electors from certain states won by the president-elect.

“Today is a sad day for our country. The destruction and violence we saw at our Capitol today is an assault on our democracy, our Constitution and the rule of law, and must not be tolerated,” Daines said in the statement, adding: “We must restore confidence in our electoral process. We must, and we will, have a peaceful and orderly transition of power.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) on Wednesday afternoon said she would no longer object to Biden’s electoral college victory.

“What happened today and continues to unfold in the nation’s capital is disgraceful and un-American,” she said in a statement.

“We must have a peaceful transfer of power,” she said, adding: “What we have seen today is unlawful and unacceptable. I have decided I will vote to uphold the electoral college results.”

She also urged the president to “condemn and put an end to this madness.”

By: Paulina Firozi and Mike DeBonis

8:34 PM: Pence reopens Senate with ‘Let’s get back to work,’ while Schumer blames Trump for ‘domestic terrorists’ storming the Capitol

Pence, McConnell address Senate following violent protests at Capitol

Vice President Pence reopened the Senate proceedings Wednesday evening by telling the rioters who stormed the Capitol that “you did not win” and encouraging lawmakers with “let’s get back to work.”

“Today was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol,” Pence said, delivering a rare speech from the Senate dais, where vice presidents often preside over the body but rarely, if ever, deliver remarks. He praised the resumption of proceedings, promising that “the world will again witness the resilience and strength of our democracy.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) repeated a similar sentiment, promising that lawmakers “will not be kept from this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats,” and that Congress has “faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today.”

“We’ve never been deterred before, and we’ll not be deterred today,” McConnell said. “Now we’re going to finish what we started. … We will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election.”

But Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) coupled his message of resilience with one of unbridled disgust for the people who stormed the Capitol — and President Trump, whom he blamed for inciting them.

“Those who performed these reprehensible acts cannot be called protesters. No, these were rioters and insurrectionists, goons and thugs, domestic terrorists,” Schumer said. “They should be provided no leniency.”

“This mob was in good part President Trump’s doing, indicted by his words, his lies,” Schumer continued. “This violence is in good part his responsibility, his everlasting shame.”

By: Karoun Demirjian

8:15 PM: Obama: Trump’s ‘fantasy narrative,’ enabled by GOP, led to Capitol violence

Former president Barack Obama blasted Trump and Republicans for perpetuating a “fantasy narrative” about the November election that led to Wednesday’s violence at the Capitol.

“History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation. But we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise,” Obama said in a statement Wednesday night.

“For two months now, a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth — that this was not a particularly close election and that President-Elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. 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.

“Right now, Republican leaders have a choice made clear in the desecrated chambers of democracy. They can continue down this road and keep stoking the raging fires. Or they can choose reality and take the first steps toward extinguishing the flames. They can choose America.

“I’ve been heartened to see many members of the President’s party speak up forcefully today. Their voices add to the examples of Republican state and local election officials in states like Georgia who’ve refused to be intimidated and have discharged their duties honorably. We need more leaders like these — right now and in the days, weeks, and months ahead as President-Elect Biden works to restore a common purpose to our politics. It’s up to all of us as Americans, regardless of party, to support him in that goal.”

By: Amy B Wang

8:13 PM: RNC condemns Capitol violence as ‘attack on our country’

The Republican National Committee has condemned the breach of the Capitol on Wednesday as an attack on the United States and its founding principles.

“These violent scenes we have witnessed do not represent acts of patriotism, but an attack on our country and its founding principles,” the party said in a statement. “Our Founding Fathers established a nation of laws, not a nation of anarchy. We call for all those involved to listen to law enforcement officials and help restore order in our nation’s capital.”

The statement does not mention that rioters were called to Washington and to the Capitol by President Trump, who has perpetuated baseless claims of voter fraud, and motivated further by Republican lawmakers who have indulged Trump in those claims.

“What happened today was domestic terrorism,” RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens tweeted. “Our soldiers have died carrying the American flag into battle for our freedom. To see that flag used in the name of unfounded conspiracy theories is a disgrace to the nation, and every decent American should be disgusted by it.”

By: Amy B Wang

8:04 PM: Chief of staff to first lady Melania Trump resigns

The chief of staff to first lady Melania Trump resigned Wednesday, hours after a mob of pro-Trump supporters surged into the Capitol.

“It has been an honor to serve the country in the White House. I am very proud to have been a part of Mrs. Trump’s mission to help children everywhere, and proud of the many accomplishments of this Administration,” Stephanie Grisham said.

Grisham, a former press secretary who never once briefed the press, was a polarizing figure to many of her colleagues, and rarely was in the White House in the past year. But she was viewed as a close confidante of the first lady, who elevated her after she was removed as press secretary. Grisham was one of Trump’s longest-serving aides, working on the 2016 campaign.

By: Josh Dawsey

8:03 PM: Democrats and some Republicans in Congress accuse Trump of inciting a coup

Congressional Democrats and some Republicans on Wednesday accused President Trump of inciting a coup after an angry mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, interrupted the proceedings to cement President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and triggered an evacuation of lawmakers.

A trio of lawmakers, who have been Trump’s most vocal GOP critics in Congress over his efforts to undermine the election results, assailed the president.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) released a blistering critique of Trump, saying the day’s events were the result of 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. What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who called it a “coup attempt,” tweeted directly to Trump: “You are not protecting the country. Where is the DC guard? You are done and your legacy will be a disaster.”

And Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said the Capitol “was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard — tweeting against his vice president for fulfilling the duties of his oath to the Constitution.”

Some Democratic lawmakers suggested they wanted immediate action taken against the president and certain Republican lawmakers for any role they played in inciting Wednesday’s violence.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said she would ready documentation to impeach the president. “I am drawing up Articles of Impeachment,” she tweeted. “Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate. We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath.”

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) said she will call for the “expulsion of the Republican members of Congress who incited this domestic terror attack on the Capitol.”

Read the full story

By: Colby Itkowitz and Paulina Firozi

7:49 PM: Democratic congressman said he spoke with Republicans on ways to send a message to Trump

Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) indicated in an interview that some Republicans were so disturbed by the day’s events that they talked during their hours of isolation about ways to send a clear signal of resolve and repudiation of the president’s role in inciting the attack on the Capitol.

“I’ve had very specific conversations [with Republicans] about what should be done, what might be done,” Malinowski said.

Asked whether those conversations included exploring the possibility of impeachment, Malinowski seemed to affirm the subject was raised, saying “that’s an important word in the English language.”

He emphasized that he did not “want to put words in their mouths. I need to let them speak for themselves.”

“But as you well know there was a strong contingent of Republicans in the House who were pretty fed up already and were standing quite strongly against this radical group trying to challenge the legitimacy of the election,” he added. “It’s fair to say those folks feel even more strongly today.”

By: Greg Miller

7:42 PM: Lawmakers returning to crime scene after woman fatally shot in Capitol

When lawmakers return to the Capitol to resume the confirmation of electoral college votes Wednesday night, several questions about security linger. It’s unclear whether members of Congress will have safe ingress and egress, and whether the building will remain secured.

Lawmakers will also be returning to a crime scene: A woman was shot inside the Capitol, steps from the House floor, after pro-Trump rioters breached the building earlier in the day, smashing windows and vandalizing offices.

The woman who was shot has not yet been publicly identified. Video posted on social media showed a crowd inside the Capitol, a gunshot ringing out and then the woman, wearing a Trump banner around her neck, being lowered to the ground. She could later be seen being loaded into an ambulance with blood on her upper body.

She was taken to a hospital and D.C. police later announced that she had died.

By: Mike DeBonis and Peter Hermann

6:46 PM: Pelosi calls for electoral college certification to continue Wednesday night

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for the electoral college certification to continue Wednesday night after pro-Trump mobs stormed the Capitol earlier in the day and shut down the proceedings.

In a message to her colleagues, Pelosi blasted the riots as “a shameful assault” on democracy that had been “anointed at the highest level of government.”

“It cannot, however, deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden,” she wrote.

Pelosi said the decision to proceed with the certification was made in consultation with House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and Democratic Whip James E. Clyburn (S.C.) and after calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and Vice President Pence. Lawmakers will proceed at the Capitol once the building is cleared for use, she added.

“We always knew this responsibility would take us into the night. The night may still be long but we are hopeful for a shorter agenda, but our purpose will be accomplished,” Pelosi wrote. “We also knew that we would be a part of history in a positive way, today, despite ill-founded objections to the Electoral College vote. We now will be part of history, as such a shameful picture of our country was put out to the world, instigated at the highest level.”

By: Amy B Wang

2:48 PM: Pelosi has requested deployment of National Guard troops to Capitol

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has requested National Guard troops be deployed to clear and secure the Capitol, a senior Democratic aide said Wednesday.

The request was made through the Capitol Police Board, a body that includes the chief of the Capitol Police, the House and Senate sergeants of arms, and the architect of the Capitol.

A D.C. government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly said troops are being deployed to the Capitol.

By: Felicia Sonmez, Mike DeBonis and Donna Cassata

2:44 PM: Sen. Toomey accuses GOP objectors to electoral count of trying to ‘federalize elections’

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) accused the lawmakers objecting to the electoral college results of trying to “federalize elections,” by having “Congress select the president of the United States instead of the American people.”

The charge was a shot across the bow for the GOP, which normally prides itself on safeguarding the autonomy of states to conduct their own affairs where the Constitution does not explicitly delegate them to the powers in Washington.

Maintaining state and local control of elections has been a particular sticking point in the past few years, as Congress has debated at a federal level how to better protect the security of elections against various threats.

Toomey stated in no uncertain terms that Congress has “no such authority under the Constitution” to supplant its judgment about the legitimacy of elections for the states whose job it is to verify them.

“Not our job,” Toomey said. “I urge you, vote against this objection” to the electoral college results.

By: Karoun Demirjian

2:34 PM: House, Senate recess as protesters breach Capitol

The House and Senate recessed, and Pence was ushered out of the Senate chamber after protesters stormed the Capitol building.

On the House side, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) yelled out, “This is because of you!” as the gallery doors — which had been open — were abruptly closed. The U.S. Capitol Police presence in the chamber increased, and the chamber went into recess.

A few minutes later, the House went back into session, with Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) continuing to object to the counting of his state’s electoral votes. Shortly after he finished speaking, the chamber went into recess again.

By: Felicia Sonmez

2:34 PM: Trump lashes out at Pence as president’s supporters breach Capitol

As his supporters breached the Capitol on Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to lash out at Pence for refusing to unilaterally block electoral college votes from several states that Biden won.

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify,” Trump tweeted. “USA demands the truth!”

His tweet followed Pence’s announcement that his reading of the Constitution does not empower him to do what Trump had asked.

By: John Wagner

2:27 PM: Rep. Raskin gets standing ovation from colleagues as he rises to speak days after son’s death

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), one of the Democrats tapped by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to respond to Republican objections Wednesday, received a bipartisan standing ovation when he rose to address the Chamber for the first time since his son’s death.

Thomas Bloom Raskin, 25, died on New Year’s Eve. The Maryland congressman and his wife published a searing and loving tribute this week in which they also opened up about their son’s battle with depression in the last years of his life.

“Madam Speaker, I want to thank you first, and all my dear beloved colleagues, for your love and tenderness, which my family and I will never forget,” Raskin said as he took the floor. Lawmakers of both parties rose and applauded him.

He then went on to rebut the Republicans’ arguments.

“Every objection we hear today maligning our states and their officials, both Republican and Democrat, has been litigated, adjudicated and obliterated in both federal and state court,” he said. “The president has not just had his day in court, my friends, he has had more than two months in court looking for a judge to embrace these arguments.”

By: Felicia Sonmez

2:17 PM: Cruz defends his challenge to Biden’s win in Arizona

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who endorsed the objection to Arizona’s electoral votes, defended his stance by arguing that Congress had a “responsibility” to acknowledge that large swaths of the public do not believe the 2020 election outcome is legitimate.

“That is a profound threat to this country and to the legitimacy of any administrations that will come in the future,” Cruz said, urging his colleagues to act with “a bit less certitude and a bit more recognition that we are gathered at a time when democracy is in crisis.”

Doubts about the legitimacy of the election have been perpetuated by Trump, who has falsely claimed that widespread voter fraud rigged the election, baseless allegations that have been echoed by his allies and other Republicans.

Cruz called for an electoral commission to conduct an emergency audit of the election results within 10 days.

“Consider the claims, consider the evidence,” he said, arguing that if Congress closed the books on the 2020 election while part of the public still believed it was rigged, there would be worse problems to deal with down the line.

By: Karoun Demirjian

1:59 PM: Trump returns to White House rather than heading to Capitol

a large crowd of people standing in front of a building: Supporters of President Trump rally at the Washington Monument on Wednesday.© Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post Supporters of President Trump rally at the Washington Monument on Wednesday.Trump returned to the White House on Wednesday afternoon after addressing supporters at the Ellipse instead of walking with them down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, as he suggested he would.

“So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Trump said toward the end of his remarks. “I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol.”

Trump said part of the goal would be to give wavering Republicans “the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

“So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said. “I want to thank you all. God bless you, and God bless America.”

His motorcade arrived at the White House shortly before 1:20 p.m.

By: John Wagner

1:55 PM: Republican National Committee headquarters evacuated over ‘suspicious package’; some Capitol offices also evacuated

A Republican Party spokesman said Wednesday that the party headquarters has been evacuated after a “suspicious device” was found.

Police are investigating, the spokesman said, adding that most RNC staff are in Florida for the party’s annual winter meeting.

The news comes just as a joint session of Congress to tally the electoral votes and affirm Biden’s win over Trump gets underway.

Several nearby buildings had also been evacuated as of Wednesday afternoon, including the Library of Congress Madison building and the Cannon House Office Building.

By: Josh Dawsey, Mike DeBonis and Felicia Sonmez

1:54 PM: Schumer says no basis for objecting to Biden’s electoral win

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said there was simply no basis to object to the counting of the electoral college.

“The Congress does not determine the outcome of elections, the people do,” he said. “By the end of the proceedings today, it will be confirmed once again, something that is well known, and well settled: The American people elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the next president and vice president of the United States.”

“But,” he continued, Republicans “are going to object to the counting of the vote anyway, and in the process, they will embarrass themselves, they will embarrass their party, and worst of all, it will embarrass our country.”

“As we speak, half of our voters are being conditioned by the outgoing president to believe that when his party loses an election, the results must not be legitimate,” Schumer added. “As we speak, the eyes of the world are on this chamber questioning whether America is still the shining example of democracy, the shining city on the Hill. What message will we send today?”

By: Mike DeBonis

1:49 PM: House Republicans begin voicing objections to electoral vote tally

a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) attends the opening day of the 117th Congress on Wednesday. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) attends the opening day of the 117th Congress on Wednesday. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)As Wednesday’s proceedings kicked off, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) presiding, several House Republicans rose to challenge the electoral vote tally.

The first few GOP speakers focused their objections on the procedure by which some states changed their voting process amid the coronavirus pandemic. That matter was the subject of a now-dismissed lawsuit last month by the Texas attorney general and supported by more than half the House Republican conference. Notably, even though many states changed their election rules amid the pandemic, Republicans only focused their objections on swing states where Biden won.

Taking the floor Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) argued that “the constitutional process was not followed” in a number of states. He also acknowledged that “over a hundred of my colleagues … asked the Supreme Court to address this problem just a few weeks ago,” criticizing the court’s dismissal of the case as a “punt.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) responded for the Democrats.

“If a governor certifies a slate of electors and there are no competing slates from that state, the governor-certified slate must be counted today,” Lofgren said. “Every single slate of electors, won by Joe Biden or won by Donald Trump, got their governor’s certification. Not a single state submitted a competing slate. There’s no dispute to resolve. The 2020 election was the most secure election conducted in modern history.”

By: Felicia Sonmez

1:46 PM: GOP members object to Arizona’s electoral votes for Biden

Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) raised the first of several expected objections to the electoral college vote Wednesday, calling the results of his own state into question.

Gosar rose on behalf of 60 other lawmakers to object to certifying Arizona’s electoral college results and was joined by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in making the objection.

Their complaint was worded technically and sparingly, saying the electoral votes “were not, under all of the known circumstances, regularly given.” The two chambers broke to debate the merits of that claim in greater detail in independent sessions that follow.

Vice President Pence presided over the joint session of Congress, which was in session for only a few minutes before the first objections were raised. In those opening moments, Pence had to put down objections to the proceedings from members of his own party.

Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) rose to challenge the proceedings early on, complaining that social distancing restrictions would make it impossible for members to object to the course of the session if they wanted to.

“How would one make an objection or make a parliamentary inquiry in the future if you’re not on the floor?” he asked.

“Debate is not permitted in the joint session,” Pence said, silencing him. “The gentleman’s parliamentary inquiry constitutes debate.”

By: Karoun Demirjian

1:45 PM: McConnell warns that overturning Biden’s election would push democracy into a ‘death spiral’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) began Senate debate over Arizona’s 11 electoral votes with an emotional plea against rejecting the voters’ will.

“I’ve served 36 years in the Senate — this will be the most important vote I’ve ever cast,” McConnell said, his voice breaking at times as he spoke.

McConnell noted that he supported Trump and his bid to contest election results in the courts.

“But, my colleagues, nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale — the massive scale — that would have tipped the entire election,” he said. “Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.”

“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.”

Were elections overturned due solely to unproven allegations from the losing side, he said, “our democracy would enter a death spiral.”

By: Mike DeBonis

1:10 PM: Pence says he will not intervene to change outcome of election, rejecting Trump’s pleas

Pence, in a letter to lawmakers Wednesday, rejected Trump’s view that he could unilaterally reject electoral college votes from states won by Biden when he presides over a joint session of Congress.

“My oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” Pence said in the letter. “My role as presiding officer is largely ceremonial.”

His letter circulated as Trump repeatedly implored him to intervene in Congress’s counting of the results during a rally at the White House Ellipse.

“Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country,” Trump said. “And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you. I will tell you right now, I’m not hearing good stories.”

In his letter, Pence made clear that lawmakers have the right to challenge votes but that he was not going to initiate the objection.

“Some believe that as Vice President, I should be able to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally,” he said. “Others believe that electoral votes should never be challenged in a Joint Session of Congress. After a careful study of our Constitution, our laws and our history I believe neither view is correct.”

By: John Wagner

1:05 PM: Congress meets in joint session to confirm Biden’s win, over the objections of dozens of Republicans

a sign on the side of a building: A closed area in front of the U.S. Capitol at dawn on Wednesday.© Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg A closed area in front of the U.S. Capitol at dawn on Wednesday.Wednesday’s joint session of Congress opened with Pence presiding — and the constitutionally required step of lawmakers counting the electoral votes is expected to take an unprecedented turn.

Republicans, pushing Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud, plan to challenge the duly certified results from at least three states: Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

The debate and votes on the objections are expected to last into Thursday. The last-ditch effort — 14 days before Biden’s inauguration — is doomed to fail in the Democratic-led House and GOP-led Senate.

By: Donna Cassata and Felicia Sonmez

12:52 PM: Rep. Scalise becomes highest-ranking House Republican to announce opposition to electoral vote tally

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, said Wednesday that he will object to the electoral vote tally, becoming the highest-ranking GOP lawmaker to do so.

In a statement shortly before the joint session of Congress convened, Scalise argued that “in a number of states,” election procedures were not established by state legislatures but by other officials.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to states selectively choosing which election laws to follow. … The only remaining recourse, as laid out in the Constitution, is through Congressional action. For these reasons, I will vote in favor of objections to the certification of electoral votes from certain states where there have been serious questions about the integrity of the electoral process,” Scalise said.

He added that he hopes Wednesday’s floor debate “will be the first step in the necessary process of election reform.”

Two Republicans, speaking on the condition on anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the matter, said they believe House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also will vote to sustain objections Wednesday.

Aides to McCarthy did not respond to requests for comment.

By: Felicia Sonmez and Mike DeBonis

12:33 PM: Trump tells crowd he just spoke to Pence, says it will be a ‘sad day’ if he doesn’t ‘come through’

a statue of a flag: President Trump arrives to speak to supporters from the Ellipse near the White House on Tuesday. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)© Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images President Trump arrives to speak to supporters from the Ellipse near the White House on Tuesday. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)A defiant Trump told supporters Wednesday that he would “never concede” and that he had just spoken to Pence, whom he has urged to block the counting of electoral college votes of several states won by Biden.

“I hope Mike is going to do the right thing,” Trump told a crowd gathered on the White House Ellipse. “I hope so. I hope so, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. … All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president.”

Trump, who appeared more than an hour later than scheduled, said he had told Pence that participating in the reversal of the election isn’t what takes courage.

“I said, ‘Mike, that doesn’t take courage,’ ” Trump said. “What takes courage is to do nothing; that takes courage. And then we’re stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot. And we have to live with that for four more years.”

A few minutes later, Trump returned to the subject of Pence’s role.

“And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us,” Trump said. “And if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution.”

Trump also urged his supporters to closely watch how members of Congress vote Wednesday on accepting the election results.

“If they do the wrong thing, we should never, ever forget,” he said.

Trump later asserted that the apparent losses of the two Republicans in Georgia’s U.S. Senate races make it even more important that he hold the presidency. If both Democrats are certified as winners, Democrats will take control of the Senate in Washington, along with the House.

He opened his remarks by overstating the size of his crowd.

“These people are not going to take it any longer,” Trump said. “They’re not going to take it any longer.”

By: John Wagner

12:18 PM: Hillary Clinton says Republicans who back Trump’s efforts to overturn election are ‘siding with a delusional con man’

a man that is standing in the dark: In this 016 photo, then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses while speaking at a rally in Pittsburgh.© Andrew Harnik/AP In this 016 photo, then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses while speaking at a rally in Pittsburgh.Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on Wednesday sharply criticized Republicans who are supporting Trump’s efforts to overturn Biden’s victory, arguing that they are working to undermine democracy by doing so.

“Republican senators must decide today between upholding 244 years of democracy or going down in history as siding with a delusional con man,” Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, said in a tweet. “It shouldn’t be a tough choice.”

Clinton also earlier Wednesday appeared to bask in Democrats’ performance in the Georgia Senate runoffs, tweeting: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

By: Felicia Sonmez

12:02 PM: Leading GOP constitutional lawyer says Trump is attempting a ‘congressional coup’

A leading Republican constitutional lawyer said in advance of Wednesday’s joint session of Congress to count electoral votes that Trump is attempting “a congressional coup.”

Charles Cooper, who has been active advising conservative lawmakers behind the scenes on electoral certification and the Constitution, made the comment in an interview Wednesday as Vice President Pence prepared to preside over the count of electoral college votes confirming Biden’s win. Pence faces outspoken pressure from the president and his allies on one hand and an increasing number of high-profile conservative constitutional scholars — and their allies — on the other.

In a tweet Tuesday, Trump claimed that “the Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.”

In response, Republican constitutional law experts have begun speaking publicly with a contrary view. “There is no chance at all that the Framers of the original Constitution, or of the 12th Amendment, would have granted the vice president unilateral power to decide who was to be president,” Cooper said.

“There is no textual support whatsoever in the Constitution for the notion that the vice president is alone responsible even to COUNT the electoral college votes, let alone to unilaterally decide which votes are valid and thus can be counted,” Cooper said in a statement emailed to The Washington Post.

Former federal appeals court judge J. Michael Luttig made a similar point in a tweet Tuesday.

“The only responsibility and power of the Vice President under the Constitution is to faithfully count the electoral college votes as they have been cast,” Luttig wrote.

At a rally on the Mall on Wednesday morning, Trump’s personal lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani and John Eastman, made a fiery case for Pence to take action at the joint session.

“All we are demanding of Vice President Pence is this afternoon at one o’clock, he let the legislatures of the states look into this, so we get to the bottom of it and the American people know whether we have control of the direction of our government or not,” Eastman said. “We no longer live in a self-governing republic if we can’t get the answer to this question.”

Eastman’s comments suggest he is urging Pence to reject electors pending inquiries into fraud allegations in the states — a power that Pence does not have. Privately, in memos and in closed-door White House meetings, Eastman has provided legal justification for Pence to take such action.

Trump and Pence met Tuesday to discuss plans for Wednesday. During that meeting, Pence, who was aware of the position taken by scholars such as Cooper and Luttig, told Trump that he does not have the authority to block congressional certification of Biden’s victory, according to people familiar with the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly.

But Trump later issued a statement denying that conversation, which was first reported by the New York Times.

By: Tom Hamburger

11:57 AM: In Georgia race and Pence’s Senate performance, foreign observers see crucial test of American system

The world has watched the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election with confusion and alarm — and many foreign observers remain glued to the final chapters of the saga.

Vice President Pence is scheduled to preside over a joint session of Congress on Wednesday and confirm the results of the election, the legitimacy of which President Trump continues to reject in an increasingly desperate bid to hold onto power. This week, Trump said he hopes “Mike Pence comes through for us,” suggesting he should reject the results, despite the fact Pence cannot legally do so.

Meanwhile, results are still trickling in from an exceedingly close race for two Senate seats in Georgia that could tip Senate control into Democrats’ hands — which would hand the party both the White House and Congress. Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock has already been declared the winner in his race and the other Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, maintains a narrow lead as of Wednesday morning.

Read the full story here.

By: Siobhán O’Grady

11:48 AM: One of the four House Democrats tapped to defend Biden’s win says ‘the American people have spoken’

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) — one of four House Democrats chosen to lead the defense of the 2020 presidential election and Biden’s win — said in an interview that his party’s message at Wednesday’s proceedings will be simple: “The American people have spoken.”

Along with Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) and Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), Neguse will deliver a broad defense of the right of the states to run their own elections and the necessity of Congress to stay out of that process. Other members will be prepared to counter the specific allegations that have been leveled by Trump supporters who have questioned whether electoral votes cast by as many as six states should be counted.

“We will have many of our colleagues who represent the states at issue who will be well-positioned to defend the propriety of the elections that took place in those specific states like Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia,” Neguse said Wednesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will preside over the debate in that chamber from the rostrum. Neguse, a former state prosecutor, said many House Democrats — several of them lawyers or former judges — have spent weeks preparing for Wednesday’s debate.

“We’ll be ready. We’ll be prepared,” he said. “And I think we’ll make a compelling case to the American people about why their voices should be respected and why Congress should simply do its job and move forward.”

By: Mike DeBonis

11:44 AM: ‘It’s a hijack effort’: Sen. Young rejects effort to challenge Biden’s win, drawing wrath of Trump supporters

Protesters surrounded Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.) outside the Russell Senate Office Building just after 11 a.m. Wednesday and demanded to know why he wasn’t backing a challenge to Biden’s win.

Young tried to defend himself against Trump supporters pushing him to reject the electoral votes. In a heated exchange with one woman, Young said he “would not be joining [Ted] Cruz … I think it’s a hijack effort.”

Young added that he “shares the conviction” that Trump should have remained president but is not willing to violate the Constitution.

“I took an oath under God,” the senator said. “Does that still matter in this country?”

As he walked away, protesters shook their heads and spat at the ground. “Coward!” one yelled. “We’ll remember this,” another said. “You’re going to be primaried-out.”

“Do the right thing!” another man shouted.

Shortly after, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) stood on the steps of the building and said he planned to join in the challenge to the electoral votes.

“God bless you,” a Trump supporter with an American flag shouted. Others clapped and said they appreciated Braun. But some were less impressed.

“Talk to your colleagues,” various people shouted. “It’s just buzzwords,” one man muttered.

By: Rebecca Tan and Rachel Chason

11:14 AM: Giuliani calls for ‘trial by combat’ to decide presidential election, despite Biden’s win

a statue of Rudy Giuliani: President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, addresses a rally outside the White House on Wednesday.© Jim Bourg/Reuters President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, addresses a rally outside the White House on Wednesday.Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, deployed violent imagery Wednesday in describing the president’s efforts to overturn Biden’s win, calling for the White House race to be settled by “trial by combat.”

As he addressed a crowd gathered outside the White House awaiting Trump’s remarks, Giuliani asserted that Pence has the power to unilaterally reject the electoral vote tally, even though the vice president has no such authority.

“Every single thing that has been outlined as the plan for today is perfectly legal,” Giuliani told the crowd. He falsely claimed that the vice president “can decide on the validity of these crooked ballots or he can send it back to the legislatures, give them five to 10 days to finally finish the work.”

Giuliani, who has spent much of the past few months promoting false allegations of widespread voter fraud, added that if the president and his team are wrong, “we will be made fools of.”

“But if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail,” he said, to cheers from the crowd.

“So, let’s have trial by combat,” Giuliani said. “I’m willing to state I’m willing to stake my reputation — the president is willing to stake his reputation — on the fact that we’re going to find criminality there. Is Joe Biden willing to stake his reputation that there’s no crime there?

By: Felicia Sonmez

10:54 AM: Republicans who decried impeachment as an affront to voters now plan to reject the 2020 election results

One week after Trump’s impeachment trial began in the Senate, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) went on Fox News to talk about the House’s lead impeachment manager, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.).

“He said in 2016 the president cheated, not legitimate. He said the 2020 election may not be legitimate, may not be able to trust it,” Hawley told Fox host Tucker Carlson. “And therefore you have to protect democracy by overturning elections? I mean, that’s their argument.”

Fewer than 12 months later, Hawley is working with a dozen other Senate Republicans to reject the results of the 2020 presidential election, despite there being no legal basis for Congress to question the results.

Of the 13 Senate Republicans who plan to object to the certification of electors from battleground states Wednesday, six previously railed against the possibility of Congress “overturning” the will of voters during Trump’s impeachment.

Read the story and watch the video here.

By: JM Rieger

10:43 AM: ‘This isn’t their Republican Party anymore,’ Donald Trump Jr. says of GOP lawmakers who don’t back president

Donald Trump Jr. wearing a suit and tie: Donald Trump Jr. speaks during a campaign rally in Dalton, Ga., on Jan. 4.© Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg Donald Trump Jr. speaks during a campaign rally in Dalton, Ga., on Jan. 4.The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., declared Wednesday that Republican lawmakers who don’t try to overturn Biden’s win no longer belong in the Republican Party.

“The people who did nothing to stop the steal — this gathering should send a message to them,” Trump Jr. said at a rally outside the White House. “This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party. This is the Republican Party that will put America first.”

Trump Jr. also pledged to work against the reelection of any Republican who doesn’t try to overturn the results, echoing his father’s threats against officials who have rebuffed his efforts.

“These guys better fight for Trump, because if they’re not, guess what?” he said. “I’m going to be in your backyard in a couple of months! … If you’re going to be the zero and not the hero, we’re coming for you, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”

Trump’s son Eric and daughter-in-law Lara Trump also took the stage. At one point, Eric Trump asked, “Is there any person here that actually thinks that Joe Biden won this election?”

The crowd responded with shouts of “No!” and boos.

“I don’t either, guys. I don’t either,” Eric Trump said, even though there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would have changed the result of the election.

He also declared that the “Make America Great Again” movement will outlast the president, and publicly suggested that his wife, Lara Trump, should run for Senate in North Carolina.

“My father has started a movement and this movement will never, ever die,” Eric Trump said. “This is a movement that will transcend him. It’s a movement that will transcend all of us.”

By: Felicia Sonmez

10:43 AM: Romney says Trump has ‘disgraced the office of the presidency’

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Wednesday that Trump has “disgraced the office of the presidency” as he decried the effort by some of his Republican colleagues to object to electoral college votes of several states that Biden won.

“The gambit that we’re seeing today, very disappointing,” Romney told reporters. “President Trump has disrespected the American voters, has dishonored the election system and has disgraced the office of the presidency, and I’m confident that we’ll proceed as the Constitution demands and tell our supporters the truth, whether or not they want to hear it.”

His comments came shortly before Trump was scheduled to address a rally of his supporters near the White House and a couple of hours before Congress was scheduled to convene in a joint session to count the electoral college votes.

By: John Wagner and Mike DeBonis

10:11 AM: Democratic attorneys general take aim at Hawley, other Republicans contesting results

Leaders of the Democratic Attorneys General Association on Wednesday called Republican plans to object to the electoral college results in Congress an “embarrassing and dangerous stunt” and took aim in particular at Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a former attorney general in his state.

“The claim by Senator Josh Hawley, a former state Attorney General, and others in Congress that the presidential election process allows Congress — or anyone — to overturn the results is wrong,” the group’s leaders said in a statement. “They know better — and they are choosing to further divide our nation and ignore the Constitution for perceived political gain.”

Hawley was the first Republican senator to publicly reveal his intentions to contest the counts in some states.

The statement came from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, co-chairs of the Democratic association.

“This election was free, fair, and accurate,” they said. “Any attempts by Congress or the Vice President to throw out the results in the states — the votes of hardworking Americans — are an affront to the rule of law and an affront to us as Americans. Just as the dozens of lawsuits contesting the election results have failed — these attempts will too.”

By: John Wagner

9:31 AM: 37 House Republicans say they will sustain objections to the counts of multiple states

Mike Johnson wearing a suit and tie: Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) speaks during a hearing on July 24, 2019.© J. Scott Applewhite/AP Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) speaks during a hearing on July 24, 2019.In a joint statement Wednesday morning, 37 House Republicans said they would vote to sustain objections to the electoral college tallies of multiple states, asserting that Congress is “the last bulwark in a presidential election to ensure the Constitution has been followed.”

The group previously weighed in on a case, rejected by the Supreme Court, that sought to reject the results of four states won by Biden: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

In their statement Wednesday, the GOP lawmakers argued again that those states improperly changed election procedures and therefore that “the slates of electors produced under those modified laws are thus unconstitutional” and should not be recognized.

Among the notable lawmakers who signed on to the statement is Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), who serves as vice chairman of the House GOP conference, which is led by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). Cheney has argued that Congress has no power to overturn elections.

Another notable signer is Rep. Ronny L. Jackson (R-Tex.), a former White House physician.

By: John Wagner

8:33 AM: Trump urges Pence to show ‘extreme courage’ and reverse the election results

a person in a suit standing in front of a crowd: President Trump speaks during a rally on Monday in Dalton, Ga.© Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post President Trump speaks during a rally on Monday in Dalton, Ga.Trump continued to publicly pressure Pence to reverse the election results when he presides over a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, urging the vice president to show “extreme courage.”

“States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval,” Trump claimed in a tweet with multiple false assertions. “All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

The tweet was the latest in which Trump asked Pence to exercise powers he doesn’t have.

“If Vice President @Mike_Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency,” Trump claimed in a tweet earlier Wednesday morning.

Pence, constrained by federal law and history, does not have the power to declare Trump the winner.

Among those who have noted that are Jay Sekulow, a lawyer who represented Trump during the impeachment process and on other matters.

“Some have speculated that the vice president could simply say, ‘I’m not going to accept these electors,’ that he has the authority to do that under the Constitution,” Sekulow said Tuesday on his podcast. “I actually don’t think that’s what the Constitution has in mind. … If that were the case, any vice president could refuse any election.”

Trump allies, including his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, have suggested that Pence could simply reject electoral results from states Biden won, citing Trump’s claims of fraud.

Under such a scenario, if enough states are rejected and Biden fails to receive a majority of electoral college votes, the House would then pick the next president. Each state delegation would get a single vote, a scenario that favors Trump. While Democrats hold a majority in the House, Republicans control more state delegations.

As he returned to Twitter on Wednesday morning, Trump also urged fellow Republicans to stand by him.

“THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, OUR COUNTRY, NEEDS THE PRESIDENCY MORE THAN EVER BEFORE – THE POWER OF THE VETO. STAY STRONG!” he said.

By: John Wagner

8:05 AM: Warnock chides Loeffler for plans to contest electoral college results

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: A video grab shows Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock speaking via his YouTube channel after midnight as votes continued to be counted in Georgia.© Raphael Warnock Via Youtube/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock A video grab shows Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock speaking via his YouTube channel after midnight as votes continued to be counted in Georgia.Democrat Raphael Warnock, who prevailed in one of Georgia’s Senate runoffs, on Wednesday chided Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), the candidate he defeated, for her plans to appear in Washington to contest the electoral college results in which Biden prevailed.

“She has consistently put what she perceives to put her own short-term political interests over the concerns of ordinary people, and the people of Georgia rose up and they rebuked that last night,” Warnock said during an appearance on CNN.

“What is unfolding in this moment is a distraction,” he said of the Republican effort to reverse the election results. “It’s a distraction. These senators know better. The people I’m talking to all across Georgia are concerned about their lives. They’re concerned about the fact that they waited for months and haven’t received the kind of covid relief that they need.”

Warnock will replace Loeffler in the Senate after Georgia’s election results are certified.

By: John Wagner

7:39 AM: Rep. Cheney says Congress ‘has no authority to overturn elections’

Liz Cheney wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington in 2019.© J. Scott Applewhite/AP Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington in 2019.Hours before the joint session was scheduled to convene, Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the third-ranking House Republican, renewed her objection to plans by many of her GOP colleagues to seek to reverse the election results by challenging states’ electoral college votes.

“We have sworn an oath under God to defend the Constitution,” Cheney tweeted. “We uphold that oath at all times, not only when it is politically convenient. Congress has no authority to overturn elections by objecting to electors. Doing so steals power from the states & violates the Constitution.”

Cheney serves as the House Republican conference chair. She is outranked among House Republicans only by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

By: John Wagner

6:58 AM: Trump to appear at rally ahead of joint session of Congress; Biden to deliver remarks on economy

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Trump speaks during a rally on Saturday in Valdosta, Ga.© Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post President Trump speaks during a rally on Saturday in Valdosta, Ga.Ahead of Wednesday’s joint session of Congress, Trump plans to deliver remarks at a “Save America Rally” in Washington, the White House said.

Trump is expected to urge Congress to throw out electoral college results in several states he lost to Biden but has contested based on unfounded claims of widespread fraud.

The late-morning event is scheduled to take place at the Ellipse near the White House.

Biden, meanwhile, is trying to project a sense of normalcy as he transitions to the presidency. He plans to receive an economic briefing and then deliver remarks on the economy from Wilmington, Del.

By: John Wagner

6:40 AM: Biden camp girds for Wednesday’s culminating electoral dispute

Amy Klobuchar posing for the camera: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) speaks during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in Washington last month.© Andrew Harnik/Bloomberg Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) speaks during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in Washington last month.While Biden plans an outward show of calm heading into the final major challenge to his election victory, his aides are deploying a behind-the-scenes strategy with Senate allies to derail and marginalize the objections to be raised by rebellious Republican lawmakers.

The Biden camp, led by rival-turned-ally Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), prepared to force the dissenters to debate into the night, hoping to dispose of the challenge as quickly as possible and prevent a days-long ordeal. Klobuchar and her aides also distributed background to Democrats and lined up swing-state lawmakers to speak.

The goal, she said, is to show there is overwhelming support in both parties for accepting the results and rejecting a “coup.”

Read the full story

By: Annie Linskey and Michelle Ye Hee Lee

6:26 AM: Legally, Pence cannot overturn the election for Trump

a close up of a man: Vice President Pence listens to President Trump during a roundtable with small-business leaders at the White House last month.© Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post Vice President Pence listens to President Trump during a roundtable with small-business leaders at the White House last month.Trump said this week that he hopes Pence “comes through for us” when the vice president presides over Wednesday’s joint session of Congress to certify the election Trump falsely claims was rigged and stolen.

He has declared that, as president of the Senate, Pence “has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors” who recognized Joe Biden’s decisive 306-to-232 electoral college victory. But even as Trump and his boosters in Congress see Wednesday’s exercise as an opportunity to overturn the election’s outcome, the vice president is constrained by the Constitution, federal law and history, and cannot declare Trump the winner.

“If the rules that have been in place and understood since 1887 are fairly applied and tradition followed, there is no possibility of any vote being discounted and certainly not enough to change the election,” said Stephen Siegel, a legal historian who has spent years studying the electoral vote count.

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By: Ann E. Marimow

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