Republicans make last, doomed attempt to overturn Biden’s win

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Vice President Mike Pence arrives Wednesday for a joint session of the House and Senate convenes to confirm the electoral votes cast in November’s election. | Erin Scott/Pool via AP

Vice President Mike Pence was swiftly ushered out of the Senate chamber on Wednesday after protesters supporting President Donald Trump breached the Capitol amid Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Pence was in the chamber on Wednesday afternoon to oversee the proceedings, and listening to debate over an objection to Arizona’s electoral vote count.

Members of the press at the Capitol reported that the Senate is sheltering in place. Around the same time, a Capitol Police officer spoke from the House floor, confirming a breach of the building by protesters.

The choas comes amid other evacuations at buildings across the Capitol complex, including at the Cannon House Office Building.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives for the Electoral College vote certification for President-elect Joe Biden.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives for the Electoral College vote certification for President-elect Joe Biden. | Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is leading the charge against President Donald Trump and a dozen Senate Republicans’ efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

In a floor speech following the first objection to Arizona’s election results, McConnell (R-Ky.) warned that the effort to object to certifying the Nov. 3 election, if successful, would spur U.S. democracy into a “death spiral.”

“The voters, the courts and the states have spoken,” McConnell said. “If we overrule them, it would damage our Republic forever.”

The Kentucky Republican characterized Wednesday’s vote as the most important he’d ever cast in his 36 years in the Senate.

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Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., objects to certifying Arizona's Electoral College votes during a joint session of the House and Senate convenes to count the electoral votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., objects to certifying Arizona’s Electoral College votes during a joint session of the House and Senate convenes to count the electoral votes cast in November’s election, at the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021. | AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Republican lawmakers on Wednesday afternoon issued their first challenge to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, objecting to Arizona’s electoral vote count.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) formally made the objection at the outset of the joint session of Congress, after lawmakers approved the electoral vote counts of Alabama and Alaska, states won by President Donald Trump, without objection.

The House and Senate will now participate in no more than two hours of debate on the Arizona objection in each chamber.

Several House Republicans and roughly a dozen senators have announced plans to object to individual states’ electoral vote counts.

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Vice President Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress as it convenes on Jan. 6, 2021 to count the Electoral College votes cast in November's election.

Vice President Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress as it convenes on Jan. 6, 2021 to count the Electoral College votes cast in November’s election. | Saul Loeb/Pool via AP

Vice President Mike Pence informed members of Congress on Wednesday that he does not believe he has the power to “reject electoral votes unilaterally,” essentially denying President Donald Trump’s public demands that he help overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The assessment from the vice president came in a letter delivered ahead of a joint session of Congress on Wednesday afternoon, where Pence will preside over lawmakers’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

It was released to the news media by the Office of the Vice President as Trump addressed supporters at a rally outside the White House, during which he repeatedly called upon Pence to aid in reversing the election’s outcome. At the same time, lawmakers began filing into the House chamber to start the quadrennial proceedings.

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

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President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

As Congress embarked upon officially sealing president-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory, President Donald Trump on Wednesday took a torch to both his political opponents and allies during a rally in front of the White House while also vowing to “never concede.”

“We will never give up. We will never concede,” Trump said at a large protest of supporters at the nation’s capital.

Trump vowed to take on Republicans who reject his effort to stay in office more than two months after he lost the presidential election — a threat that came just ahead of a joint session of Congress in which dozens of GOP lawmakers are planning to challenge Biden’s Electoral College win.

“I’m going to be watching because history is going to be made,” he said. “We are going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders, or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves.”

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Sen. Mitt Romney is pictured Dec. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Mitt Romney is pictured Dec. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill. | Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney on Wednesday blamed the attempts by President Donald Trump and others to cast doubt on November’s election for Republicans apparent defeat in two Georgia Senate runoffs.

“It turns out that telling the voters that the election is rigged is not a great way to turn out your voters,” the Utah senator, a frequent Trump critic, told reporters.

Romney’s sentiment is shared by other Republicans, though most have said so without attribution for fear of upsetting Trump and his loyal supporters.

Atlanta pastor Raphael Warnock was declared the winner of Tuesday’s Senate runoff race over Sen. Kelly Loeffler early Wednesday morning, and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff leads incumbent David Perdue by more than 15,000 votes. The latter race remains to close to call, but has the potential to give Democrats the Senate majority and unified control of the government.

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Donald Trump Jr. speaks Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, at a rally in support of President Donald Trump called the "Save America Rally."

Donald Trump Jr. speaks Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, at a rally in support of President Donald Trump called the “Save America Rally.” | Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

President Donald Trump’s eldest sons threatened Republican lawmakers at a large rally outside the White House on Wednesday, pledging that their family would continue to dispute the results of the 2020 election just hours before Congress was set to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

“To those Republicans, many of which may be voting on things in the coming hours: You have an opportunity today,” Donald Trump Jr. told the crowd gathered for the “Save America March” on the White House Ellipse. “You can be a hero, or you can be a zero. And the choice is yours. But we are all watching. The whole world is watching, folks. Choose wisely.”

Several House Republicans and roughly a dozen senators have announced plans to object to individual states’ electoral vote counts when Congress meets for a joint session this afternoon. And though their effort to reverse the election’s outcome has virtually no chance of succeeding, the president had applied increasing public pressure on Vice President Mike Pence — who will preside over the proceedings — to attempt to thwart Biden’s win.

“These guys better fight for Trump. Because if they’re not, guess what? I’m going to be in your backyard in a couple of months!” Donald Trump Jr. said, suggesting he would support primary campaigns against Republicans who did not side with his father on Wednesday.

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Supporters of President Donald Trump who are wearing attire associated with the Proud Boys attend a rally at Freedom Plaza in December.

Supporters of President Donald Trump who are wearing attire associated with the Proud Boys attend a rally at Freedom Plaza in December. | Luis M. Alvarez/AP Photo

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said the nation’s capital is “absolutely prepared” for the large pro-Trump protest scheduled for Wednesday.

“We are doing everything possible that we can to keep our residents safe, our businesses safe, but, of course, allow for people to exercise their First Amendment rights, no matter what their viewpoints are,” Bowser said Wednesday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

The city has closed down streets around the protest site and called in the National Guard to support local law enforcement in anticipation of the demonstration. A smaller event happened on Tuesday, which Bowser said led to “several” arrests.

“We have the support of our neighbors and we are very prepared to have a peaceful protest,” she said.

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President Donald Trump arrives in the early morning hours at the White House in Washington, after returning from a rally in Dalton, Ga.

President Donald Trump arrives in the early morning hours at the White House in Washington, after returning from a rally in Dalton, Ga. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

President Donald Trump applied new pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to interfere with the Congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on Wednesday — despite Pence’s inability to alter the election’s outcome and the overall futility of the effort by some Republican lawmakers.

“States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning. “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!”

In a subsequent, all-caps message, the president appeared to reference the two Georgia Senate runoff elections that took place on Tuesday — one of which resulted in Democrat Raphael Warnock defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, nearly flipping the balance of power in a chamber Republicans have controlled since 2014.

Democrat Jon Ossoff led Republican David Perdue in the state’s other Senate race by more than 16,000 ballots as of Wednesday morning, with about 98 percent of the expected vote already tallied. Ossoff claimed victory in a video message on Wednesday morning, and if he also prevails, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be able to cast tie-breaking votes in the Democrats’ favor.

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