Congress certified the Electoral College results early on Thursday morning, after a pro-Trump mob overran the Capitol building and forced lawmakers to evacuate the premises.
Shortly following the certification, President Trump released a statement affirming that he would transfer power to Joe Biden on Inauguration Day. The statement came amid unconfirmed reports that Republican officials were looking into removing Trump by invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution.
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said, adding that he would “continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted.”
Trump has refused to concede defeat to Joe Biden in the general election, alleging Democrats “stole” the election via widespread voter fraud. In light of the allegations, which Trump allies have failed to support with evidence, Republican lawmakers from the House and Senate agreed to voice objections to state electoral results.
However, earlier in the day Trump incited a crowd of thousands of supporters to demonstrate on Capitol hill. The demonstration quickly devolved into riots as the mob of thousands of people overwhelmed police, broke into the Capitol building, and forced lawmakers to evacuate. By the time the riots finished, 14 Washington, D.C., police officers were injured and one demonstrator was shot and killed in unclear circumstances.
Lawmakers subsequently insisted on returning to the Capitol to continue the certification of the Electoral College votes.
“These thugs aren’t running us off,” Senator Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) told CNN.
Following the riots on Capitol Hill, several Republican senators withdrew their objections to certification of the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin. However objections to the results in Arizona and Pennsylvania were sustained.
While the House debated the objection to Pennsylvania’s results, the Senate voted to skip debate, and threw out the objection 92-7. The House debate grew tense when Representatives Andy Harris (R., Md.), Colin Allred (D., Texas), and Al Lawson (D., Fla.) nearly got into a fist fight, after Republicans objected to comments from Connor Lamb (D., Pa.).
The riot on Wednesday “didn’t materialize out of nowhere, it was inspired by lies, the same lies you’re hearing in this room tonight,” Lamb said, referring to Republican allegations of electoral fraud. “The members who’re repeating those lies should be ashamed of themselves, their constituents should be ashamed of them.”
The House eventually voted down the objection to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes 282-138, with 64 GOP representatives joining Democrats in opposition to the measure. A majority of Republican House members voted to reject the electoral votes from Pennsylvania.
The Senate and House both debated the objection to Arizona’s results, and each chamber voted down the objection by wide margins.
Senator Kelly Loeffler (R., Ga.), who was defeated by Democrat Raphael Warnock in Tuesday night’s election, said during the debate that she had a change of heart after witnessing the violence unleashed on the Capitol earlier in the day.
“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.”
Senators Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R., Texas), who led initial efforts to object to the Electoral College results, both voted in favor of the objections to Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. The two were joined by Senators Hyde Smith (R., Miss.), Roger Marshall (R., Ka.), and Tommy Tuberville (R., Ala.).
John Kennedy (R., La.) voted only for the Arizona objection while Rick Scott (R., Fla.) and Cynthia Lummis (R., Wy.) voted only for the Pennsylvania objection.
The House, including a majority of Republican representatives, voted down the proposal to reject Arizona’s certification of the state’s election results. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) was among those voting in favor of the objection to Arizona’s certification.
“We will follow the Constitution and the law and the process for hearing valid concerns about election integrity,” McCarthy said in a floor speech. “We will do it with respect. We will respect your opinion. We will respect what you say, and we’re willing to listen to it.”
Trump ally Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) voted against the Arizona objection, after indicating she would sustain the objection earlier on Wednesday.
Vice President Mike Pence presided over the certification process, as required by law. Pence completed the ceremony despite pressure from President Trump, who told supporters on Wednesday that Pence had the power to overturn the election results.
Senator Jim Inhofe (R., Ok.) told the Tulsa World that Pence was livid at Trump over the Wednesday rally and subsequent riots.
“I’ve never seen Pence as angry as he was today,” Inhofe said. “I had a long conversation with him….He said, ‘After all the things I’ve done for [Trump].’”