After unprecedented scenes of riots at the Capitol, Congress has returned to the Electoral College debate.
Lawmakers reconvened to count electoral college votes after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol Hill earlier on Wednesday. Both in the Senate Hall and on social media, political leaders expressed their disapproval and disappointment at the violent breach by Trump’s supporters.
A woman was shot as she was trying to enter the building, eyewitnesses told the media. She died later. Four people in all have died and 52 are reported injured in the violence. Police told the media that 52 people were arrested and “approximately five” weapons were seized.
A Senate staffer quickly secured the electoral ballots from the Senate floor as people evacuated the building when rioters entered the building illegally. The staffer was widely praised for “quick thinking” and action.
Former President Barack Obama tweeted a statement a few minutes ago to express anguish at the incredible events of the day, and captured the thought that the Capitol violence represented something larger than a law and order problem.
President Donald Trump called for peace after the riots, saying “I love you,” but that the rioters should not fall for “the trap.” Trump, whose Twitter handle was disabled for 12 hours for posing what Twitter called a “risk of violence,” was widely rebuked for being the spark that kindled the fire.
However, Obama seemed to disagree. We would be “kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise,” the statement said.
Vice President Mike Pence, widely criticized for not raising a voice as President Donald Trump earlier, appealed for peace and said that while peaceful protest is a fundamental right, “violent destruction taking place at the US Capitol must stop and it must stop now.”
President-elect Joe Biden appealed both to Trump and to people to protect the principles on which the country was founded.
8:45 pm ET: In the Senate, Sen Cory Booker (D-NJ) lambasted Trump for spreading what he called untruths that led to the unprecedented scenes seen at the Capitol:
“We brought this hell upon ourselves … [Allegations of voter fraud] are unprecedented when the President, even before the election, happened to say, ‘If I lose this election, the election was rigged.’ it’s unprecedented that he’s fanning the flames of a conspiracy theory.”
9:28 pm ET: To a long applause that followed, Sen Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said: “No Congressional audit is ever going to convince these voters, particularly when the President will continue to say that the election was not stolen. The best way to respect the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth.”
After Senate runoff election results came in, Congress voted late Wednesday night on whether Presidential election was fair in Arizona. In the Senate, the support was overwhelmingly bipartisan. In the House, it was less so, but the objections were rejected, reaffirming that there was no voter fraud in Arizona.