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LATEST: House joins Senate, rejects challenge to Pennsylvania electors

by The Associated Press | January 6, 2021 at 10:23 p.m. | Updated January 7, 2021 at 2:11 a.m.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks in the House Chamber after they reconvened at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. Congress was hearing arguments over the objection of certifying Arizona’s Electoral College votes in November’s election.

WASHINGTON — The latest on Congress’ tally of the Electoral College vote won by Joe Biden:

2 A.M. THURSDAY UPDATE

The House has joined the Senate in turning aside Republican objections to Pennsylvania’s electoral vote for President-elect Joe Biden.

Lawmakers in the House voted 282-138 against the objection as the counting of Electoral College votes continued into the early hours of Thursday morning. The Senate shut down the same objection 92-7 just after midnight, and unlike the House, declined to debate before voting.

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After a long day dominated by pro-Trump rioters’ deadly storming of the Capitol, it was the second state for which a group of Republicans tried and failed to reverse the will of voters. Some GOP lawmakers have backed President Donald Trump’s bogus claims that the election was fraudulent.

Those objecting to Pennsylvania’s votes included 80 House Republicans and Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley, who is considered a potential 2024 presidential contender.

1:20 A.M. THURSDAY UPDATE

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 claimed there was widespread fraud in Pennsylvania and other states, and Republicans have echoed those claims as they have challenged electoral votes.

11:55 P.M. WEDNESDAY UPDATE

The Senate has quickly killed Republican objections to Pennsylvania’s electoral vote for President-elect Joe Biden.

Senators voted 92-7 after midnight to derail the GOP attempt to overturn Pennsylvania’s support for the Democrat.

In a long day dominated by pro-Trump rioters’ deadly storming of the Capitol, it’s the second state for which a group of Republicans tried and failed to raise objections. Some GOP lawmakers have backed President Donald Trump’s claims that the election was fraudulent.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he believes no other states’ votes will be challenged. That means Congress’ formal certification of Biden’s victory could finish quickly once the House votes on the Pennsylvania challenge.

The Senate rejected the effort to cancel Pennsylvania’s votes without any debate.

Those objecting to Pennsylvania’s votes included 80 House Republicans and Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley, who is considered a potential 2024 presidential contender.

11:15 P.M. UPDATE

Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri have objected to the counting of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, triggering 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 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 judges found no violation of state law or constitutional rights, or no grounds to grant an immediate halt to certifying the election.

10:20 P.M. UPDATE

The House has voted overwhelmingly to reject an objection to President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Arizona, joining the Senate in upholding the results of the election there.

The objection failed 303-121 on Wednesday night, with only Republicans voting in support.

Now that Arizona is out of the way, Congress has reconvened as the joint session and is making its way through the rest of the states that have objections.

10:10 P.M. UPDATE

Four people died as supporters of President Donald Trump violently occupied the U.S. Capitol.

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.

The woman was shot earlier Wednesday as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol where police were armed on the other side. She was hospitalized with a gunshot wound and later died.

D.C. police officials also say two pipe bombs were recovered, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee. Police found a cooler from a vehicle that had a long gun and Molotov cocktail on Capitol grounds.

9:15 P.M. UPDATE

The Senate has resoundingly rejected a challenge to Biden's election win in Arizona, and the result in the state 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.

[RELATED: Arkansas man pictured in Pelosi's office after protesters storm U.S. Capitol » arkansasonline.com/16office/]

9:10 P.M. UPDATE

Sen. Lindsey Graham says a commission to examine the 2020 election is not a proper next step and affirmed that Joe Biden is the “legitimate president of the United States.”

Graham, a South Carolina Republican and longtime ally of President Donald Trump, called it a “uniquely bad idea to delay this election,” referencing the commission idea proposed by his fellow South Carolina Republican, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

Graham says, “Count me out. Enough is enough.”

Earlier Wednesday, supporters of Trump breached the U.S. Capitol, forcing a lockdown of the lawmakers and staff inside.

Graham said that “if you’re a conservative,” the idea that Vice President Mike Pence could reverse the results of the election, as Trump had urged him to do, was “the most offensive concept in the world.”

9 P.M. UPDATE

Police have arrested 30 people for violating a curfew imposed in Washington, D.C., after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Officials say the 30 people were arrested Wednesday evening after being found on the streets after the 6 p.m.

The curfew had been imposed after scores of supporters of President Donald Trump broke into the Capitol, halting the constitutional process of voting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win. They were later forcibly removed from the Capitol.

The Metropolitan Police Department said 15 other people had been arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday in various protest-related arrests on an array of charges, including weapons possession and assault.

Fire officials also took 13 people to area hospitals on Wednesday from protest-related injuries.

8:55 P.M. UPDATE

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., says he is going forward with his objection to the Electoral College results in Pennsylvania despite the violent breach at the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

The Missouri senator said he did not support violence, but he said the Senate should go forward with a legal process that includes his objections.

Hawley says his objections should be debated “peacefully, without violence, without attacks, without bullets.” He says he hoped lawmakers would not brush his concerns aside because of the violence earlier Wednesday, including the death of a protester inside the Capitol.

8:45 P.M. UPDATE

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is comparing violence at the U.S. Capitol to protests against racial injustice over the summer after the killing of George Floyd by police.

The U.S. Capitol was overrun by a mob supportive of President Donald Trump on Wednesday as Congress counted electoral votes to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win. Trump has said there was widespread fraud in the election, and he encouraged his supporters to come to Washington.

McCarthy said, “Mobs don’t rule America. Laws rule America. It was true when our cities were burning this summer and it is true now.”

The comment got applause from Republicans. Democrats in the chamber sat silently.

Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, was killed in May after a white police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he said he couldn’t breathe.

McCarthy, an ally of Trump’s, said Wednesday was the “saddest day” he’s ever had in Congress.

He said: “It is clear this Congress will not be the same after today.”

8:35 P.M. UPDATE

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 says, “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.”

Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, noted that Wednesday is the feast of the Epiphany and prayed that the violence would be “an epiphany to heal” for the country.

8:10 P.M. UPDATE

New York Gov. 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 U.S. National Guard officials. It comes after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters rampaged through the U.S. 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.

The president’s supporters incited chaos in a protest over a transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden. They believed that Trump was cheated out of a landslide victory by rampant, widespread voter fraud.

7:55 P.M. UPDATE

Multiple Republican senators have reversed course and now say they won’t object to congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Their change of heart came after a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier Wednesday and interrupted their proceedings. One person was fatally shot.

Sens. Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Braun of Indiana and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia all said, in light of the violence, they would stand down from planned objections to Biden’s win.

Lawmakers gathered to certify the Electoral College votes from each state were forced to evacuate after a mob of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol. Loeffler said that the “violence, the lawlessness, and siege of the halls of Congress” were a “direct attack” on the “sanctity of the American democratic process.”

All three had previously signed on to Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud to explain his defeat.

Loeffler has just days left in her term. She lost her Senate race to Democrat Raphael Warnock earlier Wednesday.

7:45 P.M. UPDATE

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.”

McConnell plans to keep the Senate in session Wednesday to finish confirming the results.

Trump has repeatedly told his supporters that the November election was stolen from him. He reiterated the claim in a video filmed as his demonstrators were storming the Capitol.

7:35 P.M. UPDATE

Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer says President Donald Trump “bears a great deal of the blame” after a mob loyal to him stormed the U.S. Capitol.

As the Senate reconvened to count electoral votes that will confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s win, Schumer said that Jan. 6, 2021, will “live forever in infamy” and will be a stain on the democracy.

Schumer said the events “did not happen spontaneously.”

He said Wednesday: “The president, who promoted conspiracy theories that motivated these thugs, the president, who exhorted them to come to our nation’s capital, egged them on.”

Schumer said the protesters should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

7:20 P.M. UPDATE

Former President Barack Obama says history will remember the violence at the Capitol as a moment of great dishonor and shame for the nation.

Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power.

Obama say the violence was “incited by a sitting president” who lied about the outcome of the presidential election. Trump has told his supporters that he won reelection in a landslide and lost the election to President-elect Joe Biden only because Democrats cheated.

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.”

7:05 P.M. UPDATE

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.

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned in protest over President Donald Trump’s Syria policies, blamed the president for the violence at the U.S. Capitol.

In a sharp rebuke Wednesday, Mattis said the violence was fomented by Trump, who has used the presidency “to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens.”

His written statement concluded, “Our Constitution and our Republic will overcome this stain and We the People will come together again in our never-ending effort to form a more perfect Union, while Mr. Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country.”

Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general who stepped down as Pentagon chief in December 2018, had an embattled relationship with Trump, but largely remained publicly quiet and avoided direct criticism. Since he left the job, however, he has been more openly derisive of Trump, including a pubilc condemnation of the president’s heavy-handed use of military force to quell protests near the White House last June.

6:55 P.M. UPDATE

The Republican National Committee says it strongly condemns the violence at the Capitol, adding that the violent scenes “do not represent acts of patriotism, but an attack on our country and its founding principles.”

The RNC is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform. Its statement condemning the violence came hours after Republican President Donald Trump baselessly complained that the election was stripped away “from great patriots.” He went on to tell them to “go home with love & in peace.”

The group’s communications director, Michael Ahrens, says, “What happened today was domestic terrorism.”

He says to see the U.S. flag used “in the name of unfounded conspiracy theories is a disgrace to the nation, and every decent American should be disgusted by it.”

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over him, citing false claims of voter fraud. 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.”

Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff and press secretary for first lady Melania Trump, has resigned following violent protests at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of the president.

Grisham says in a statement Wednesday that it was an “honor” to serve the country in the White House and be part of he first lady’s “mission” to help children.

Grisham was one of Trump’s longest serving aides, having joined the campaign in 2015. She served as the White House press secretary and never held a press briefing.

Wednesday’s violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by the president’s supporters sparked renewed conversations inside the White House about mass resignations by mid-level aides who are responsible for operations of the office of the president.

Two people familiar with the conversations said the aides were torn between fears of what more would happen if they left and a desire to register their disgust with their boss. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

6:40 P.M. UPDATE

Former President Bill Clinton says the attack on the U.S. Capitol was fueled over four years of “poison politics” and lit by President Donald Trump.

Clinton said in a statement Wednesday night that the riot at the Capitol resulted from a combination of deliberate disinformation that created distrust in the system and pit Americans against one another.

He wrote, “The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost.”

His wife, Hillary Clinton, lost a bitter election to Trump in 2016 and conceded to him immediately. Trump has refused to accept his defeat by Democrat Joe Biden in November and is trying to cast him as an illegitimate president.

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of 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.”

6:20 P.M. UPDATE:

A West Virginia lawmaker took video of himself and other supporters of President Donald Trump rushing into the U.S. Capitol after they breached the security perimeter.

In the video by Republican Del. Derrick Evans, later deleted from his social media page, he is shown wearing a helmet and clamoring at the door to breach the building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

“We’re in! Keep it moving, baby!” he said in a packed doorway amid Trump followers holding flags and complaining of being pepper sprayed. Once inside, Evans could be seen on video milling around the Capitol Rotunda, where historical paintings depict the republic’s founding, and yelled, “No vandalizing!"

State House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw said Evans will need to “answer to his constituents and colleagues regarding his involvement in what has occurred today.”

He said he has not spoken to Evans yet about his involvement.

The delegate from Wayne County said in a statement later on Facebook that he was heading back to West Virginia and “was simply there as an independent member of the media to film history.”

5:55 P.M. UPDATE:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress will resume the Electoral College proceedings once the Capitol is cleared of pro-Donald Trump protesters and safe for use.

Pelosi said she made the decision Wednesday in consultation with the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the vice president, who will preside.

She noted the day would always be “part of history,” but now it would be “as such a shameful picture of our country was put out into the world.”

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.”

Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and clashed with law enforcement before disrupting Congress’ tallying of the Electoral College votes. Trump has repeatedly told his supporters that the November election was stolen from him, even though that is not true.

5:50 P.M. UPDATE:

Dozens of pro-Trump protesters remain on the streets of the nation’s capital in defiance of the curfew imposed after rioters stormed the Capitol.

The mostly maskless crowd was forcibly removed from the Capitol on Wednesday after breaking into the building and halting the constitutional process of voting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win. They were pushed out of the immediate area and moved down the hill, where they taunted law enforcement and moved barricades.

Police said anyone found on the streets after the 6 p.m. curfew would be arrested. Officers in full riot gear with shields lined the streets near the U.S. Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said their debate on affirming Biden's victory would continue after the Capitol was secured.

The head of the nation’s largest union of flight attendants says people who took part in the violent protest at the Capitol must be banned from flying.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a statement Wednesday that “some of the people who traveled in our planes (Tuesday) participated in the insurrection at the Capitol today.”

She says, “Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the DC area. Acts against our democracy, our government and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight.”

Nelson and the union endorsed President-elect Joe Biden over President Donald Trump before the November election.

Trump supporters on a Delta Air Lines flight from Salt Lake City to Washington heckled Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the lone Republican senator to vote to oust Trump after he was impeached. On an American Airlines flight from Dallas, a large contingent of Trump supporters got in an angry yelling match with other passengers after one of the president’s supporters projected “Trump 2020” on the cabin ceiling and walls.

5:36 P.M. UPDATE:

President Donald Trump has appeared to justify the violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

In a tweet Wednesday night, Trump said, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

He added, “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and clashed with law enforcement before disrupting Congress’ tallying of the Electoral College votes. Trump has repeatedly told his supporters that the November election was stolen from him, even though that is not true.

Trump has faced mounting criticism from Republican lawmakers to do more to condemn the violence being perpetrated in his name.

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen says the violent pro-Trump protest at the U.S. Capitol was an “intolerable attack on a fundamental institution” of democracy.

Rosen said Wednesday that the Justice Department has been working with U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement agencies to secure the Capitol. He says hundreds of federal agents from Justice Department agencies were sent to assist.

He called it an “unacceptable situation” and said federal prosecutors “intend to enforce the laws of our land.”

Dozens of President Donald Trump’s supporters 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.

Police declared the Capitol to be secure about four hours later.

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney is blaming Trump for inciting a violent “insurrection” at the Capitol.

Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee and a frequent critic of Trump's, said the violent breach of the Capitol on Wednesday was “due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months.″

The Utah senator said those who continue to support Trump’s “dangerous gambit” by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election “will forever be seen as complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.″

Romney ridiculed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other Republicans who want an “audit” of the election results: “Please! No Congressional led audit will ever convince those voters, particularly when the president will continue to claim the election was stolen.”

The simple truth, Romney said, “is that President-elect (Joe) Biden won this election. President Trump lost.″

5:10 P.M. UPDATE:

Former President George W. Bush says he and his wife, Laura, are sickened and heartbroken over the “mayhem” in Washington and have watched in “disbelief and dismay” as events unfolded.

Bush said the “assault” on the Capitol on Wednesday and the disruption of a constitutionally mandated meeting to affirm Democrat Joe Biden's victory was “undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”

The Republican said in a statement that he is “appalled” by what he described as “reckless” behavior by some political leaders since the election and the lack of respect for U.S. institutions, traditions and law enforcement.

Bush addressed those who are disappointed by the election result, saying, “Our country is more important than the politics of the moment.”

Dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump breached the security perimeter and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting. They fought with officers both inside the building and outside.

5:10 P.M. UPDATE:

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.

— By AP writers Michael Balsamo and Colleen Long

4:50 P.M. UPDATE:

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.

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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

4:30 P.M. UPDATE:

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse is directly blaming President Donald Trump for the storming of the Capitol by huge, angry crowds of pro-Trump protesters.

The Nebraska lawmaker and frequent critic of Trump said Wednesday evening that 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.”

Sasse says in a written statement, “Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the President’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”

The protesters broke into the building as Congress was beginning the formal process of certifying the electoral votes that gave Democratic President-elect Joe Biden a victory over Trump in November. Vice President Mike Pence has the ceremonial role of overseeing that certification and resisted Trump efforts to pressure him to overturn the election results.

Trump has continued to fallaciously claim that the voting was marred by fraud and that he actually won. Earlier Wednesday Trump addressed a huge crowd of protesters outside the White House and urged them to gather at the Capitol.

4:25 P.M. UPDATE:

The Washington, D.C., police chief says at least five weapons have been recovered and at least 13 people have been arrested so far in pro-Trump protests.

The mostly maskless crowd stormed the Capitol earlier Wednesday as lawmakers were meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win. One person was shot; their condition is unknown.

Police Chief Robert Contee called the attack a riot.

As darkness began to set in, law enforcement officials were working their way toward the protesters, using percussion grenades to try to clear the area around the Capitol. Big clouds of tear gas were visible.

Police were in full riot gear. They moved down the West steps, clashing with demonstrators.

Mayor Muriel Bowser earlier declared a 6 p.m. curfew.

[Timeline not showing up above? Click here to view » arkansasonline.com/17chaos/]

4:05 P.M. UPDATE

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 behavior 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.”

3:40 P.M. UPDATE

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.

3:35 P.M. UPDATE

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.”

3:10 P.M. UPDATE

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.

3:05 P.M. UPDATE

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.”

Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

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.

3 P.M. UPDATE

The Pentagon says about 1,100 D.C. National Guard members are being mobilized 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.

2:55 P.M. UPDATE

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.”

2:50 P.M. UPDATE

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.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Washington correspondent Frank Lockwood reported staffers have said all six members of the Arkansas congressional delegation are safe.

[RELATED: Arkansas politicians respond to chaos as protesters swarm Capitol » arkansasonline.com/17politicians]

2:40 P.M. UPDATE

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.

2:35 P.M. UPDATE

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.

2:30 P.M. UPDATE

One person has been shot at the U.S. 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.

EARLIER:

WASHINGTON — Protesters supporting President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, clashing with police and forcing a delay in the constitutional process to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's win.

[RELATED: Session on Biden victory halted as protesters swarm to Capitol » arkansasonline.com/16sess/]

Dozens of people breached security perimeters at the Capitol and lawmakers inside the House chamber were told to put on gas masks as tear gas was fired in the Rotunda.

A chaplain prayed as police guarded the doors to the chamber and lawmakers tried to gather information about what was happening, and an announcement was played inside the Capitol as lawmakers were meeting and expected to vote to affirm Biden's victory. Due to an “external security threat,” no one could enter or exit the Capitol complex, the recording said.

Protesters were also seen 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?” according to a pool report.

Congressional leaders were whisked to safety. Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris, who was attending the joint session, and was also said to be safe.

At an earlier rally, Trump had urged his supporters to march to the Capitol. After protesters clashed with law enforcement and breached the Capitol building, Trump tweeted to his supporters to “stay peaceful.”

“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement,” Trump tweeted, as tear gas was deployed in the locked-down Capitol. “They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

“We’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them,” Trump said.

Both chambers abruptly went into recess. The District of Columbia's Mayor, Muriel Bowser, issued a curfew for 6 p.m.

The skirmishes occurred outside in the very spot where president-elect Biden will be inaugurated in just two weeks.

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton condemned violent participants shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Washington correspondent Frank Lockwood was told that Cotton and U.S. Sen. John Boozman are safe.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also spoke out on social media about the skirmishes.

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.

A suspicious package was also reported in the area, Capitol Police said.

The skirmishes came just shortly after Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud at a rally near the White House on Wednesday ahead of Congress' vote.

“We will not let them silence your voices,” Trump told the protesters, who had lined up before sunrise to get a prime position to hear the president.

Lockwood was in the House press gallery when the Capitol locked down and was evacuated. He is live-tweeting the scene. Read his tweets below.

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