Jan 07 , 2021. 4 hours ago – 06:24 KYODO NEWS
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Congress on Wednesday began the final process to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s win in the November presidential election, but the event turned chaotic as supporters of President Donald Trump stormed Capitol Hill to defy the results.
Congress suspended its debate over the certification of electoral votes as massive numbers of protesters surrounded the Capitol building, with some seen gaining access to the building and marching through its halls. Law enforcement forces reportedly used tear gas in an effort to bring the situation under control.
Earlier in the day, Trump fanned the flames of mistrust in the election results during a rally that brought thousands of his supporters together in the U.S. capital.
As tensions grew in the aftermath of the rally, Trump called on his supporters to exercise restraint.
“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!” he tweeted.
The joint session of the two chambers to certify the November election results began at 1 p.m. and proceeded to a debate over the first objection, raised by Republican lawmakers over the electoral ballots of Arizona.
While many Republicans vowed to challenge the results during the joint session, the bid to reverse Trump’s defeat seems to have no chance of success as the objections from Congress members will not alter the outcome unless approved by majority vote in both chambers.
The Senate is currently led by Republicans, but the House of Representatives is controlled by Democrats.
Trump, who rallied in front of his supporters over what he sees as a “stolen” election, pressured Vice President Mike Pence to act to overturn the results while presiding over the joint session in his capacity as president of the Senate.
But Pence, a Trump loyalist, dismissed the president’s demand in a letter addressed to Congress members that was made available prior to the session, saying that he does not think he has the power to reject electoral votes.
“It is my considered judgement that 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,” he said.
To win the presidency, a candidate needs to secure at least 270 of the 538 Electoral College votes allocated to the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The candidate who wins the popular vote in a state secures that state’s electoral votes, usually in a winner-take-all manner.
In the Nov. 3 election, Biden, 78, captured a total of 306 electoral votes compared with 232 for Trump, 74.
The outcome was already affirmed through a vote on Dec. 14 by the actual electors in each state. But Congress must formally count the electoral votes and declare the results before the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, a date stipulated in the Constitution.
The Trump campaign has sought to overturn the results through legal battles over the past months, but those efforts have also been futile.
The incumbent’s refusal to concede and his continuing attempt to undermine the election process, which an agency in his own government has called the “most secure in American history,” has left the country bitterly divided.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last month showed 70 percent of registered Republican voters viewed Biden’s victory as illegitimate.
Of the total registered voters, 60 percent said they thought Biden’s victory was legitimate and 34 percent thought otherwise.
Trump is the first elected U.S. president to lose a re-election bid since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.