LIVE UPDATES: Trump protesters breach US Capitol Building
Updated: Jan 8
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress’ tally of the Electoral College vote won by Joe Biden (all times are Eastern Standard Time):
Protesting supporters of President Donald Trump have breached the U.S. Capitol.
There was confusion in the House chamber as the Capitol doors were locked and the debate over the electoral count was suspended. A representative from the Capitol police spoke from a lectern on the dais and told lawmakers to remain calm, and that more information would be available soon.
House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern of Massachusetts told the crowd that the House expected to go back into session soon. Meanwhile, members milled around the floor and looked at their phones.
Reporters and others outside the chamber were told to go their seats inside and not leave.
The skirmishes came just shortly after Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud.
The Senate has recessed its debate over an objection to the results of the Electoral College after protesters forced police to lock down the building.
Reporters were told to stay in the Senate’s press gallery as the doors were locked.
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.
The skirmishes came just shortly after President Donald Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says American “democracy is in crisis” with polls showing that large numbers of voters “believe the election that just occurred was rigged.”
Cruz, a Republican, objected to the certification of election results in Arizona, saying the Senate has a responsibility to acknowledge the profound threat posed by widespread disbelief in the legitimacy of the election.
He called for the creation of a commission to conduct a 10-day “emergency audit” to investigate any irregularities, citing a similar commission created after the 1876 presidential election.
Cruz urged lawmakers not to “take the easy path, but instead act together″ and create a “credible and fair tribunal. Consider the claims, consider the facts, consider the evidence and make a conclusive determination whether and to what extent this election complied with the Constitution.”
The U.S. Capitol Police are evacuating some congressional office buildings due to “police activity” as thousands gather outside the Capitol to protest the electoral vote.
Police told congressional staff members they should evacuate the Cannon House Office Building and the building that houses the Library of Congress. It wasn’t immediately clear what specifically sparked the evacuation.
A police spokeswoman did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.
Thousands of people have descended on the U.S. Capitol as Congress is expected to vote to affirm Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential win. Videos posted online showed protesters fighting with U.S. Capitol Police officers as police fired pepper spray to keep them back.
The Senate’s top Republican has told his colleagues that Congress should not override the voters’ verdict in electing Democrat Joe Biden president, saying, “If we overrule them we will damage our republic forever.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made his remarks as the Senate weighed a challenge by a handful of GOP lawmakers to the 11 electoral votes Arizona cast for Biden.
It was the first of several challenges to states’ electoral votes that some Republicans are mounting, encouraged by President Donald Trump’s groundless charges that the election was riddled with fraud. Congress seems certain to reject all those challenges on Wednesday and formally certify Biden’s victory.
McConnell says while all elections have irregularities, they weren’t “anywhere near the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election.” He says Congress should not declare itself “a national board of elections on steroids,” and says reversing the election results would push the country’s democratic institutions toward “a death spiral.”
Republicans from the House and Senate have objected to the counting of Arizona’s electoral vote, forcing votes in both chambers on Joe Biden’s victory in the state. The objection was made by Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar and was signed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Both are Republicans. The two chambers now have two hours to debate the challenge.
Biden won the state by more than 10,000 votes. In all, eight lawsuits challenging Biden’s Arizona win have failed, in part over a lack of evidence. The state’s Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of an election challenge, because the plaintiff lacked the right to bring the suit in the first place. The woman wasn’t a registered voter when she sued. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has said there were no irregularities with the vote in her state.
President Donald Trump is taking aim at Republican members of Congress who have refused to join him in his effort to contest the results of the November election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump on Wednesday told a large crowd of supporters gathered on the Ellipse that they needed to vote these Republicans out of office by putting up challengers in primary elections to push them out.