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The Latest: 5 weapons recovered, 13 arrests at DC protests

Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
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Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

Categories: News

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest (all times local):

5:25 p.m.

The Washington, D.C., police chief says at least five weapons have been recovered and at least 13 people have been arrested so far in pro-Trump protests.

The mostly maskless crowd stormed the Capitol earlier Wednesday as lawmakers were meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win. One person was shot; their condition is unknown.

Police Chief Robert Contee called the attack a riot.

As darkness began to set in, law enforcement officials were working their way toward the protesters, using percussion grenades to try to clear the area around the Capitol. Big clouds of tear gas were visible.

Police were in full riot gear. They moved down the West steps, clashing with demonstrators.

Mayor Muriel Bowser earlier declared a 6 p.m. curfew.

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONGRESS’ TALLY OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE

Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Trump issued a restrained call for peace but did not call on his supporters to leave.

Read more:

— Trump supporters storm US Capitol, lawmakers evacuated

— Pence defies Trump, says he can’t reject electoral votes

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

5:05 p.m.

Pro-Trump demonstrators have massed outside statehouses across the country, forcing evacuations in at least two states. In St. Paul, Minnesota, cheers rang out from demonstrators in reaction to the news that supporters of President Donald Trump had stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Hundreds of mostly unmasked people people gathered outside capitols on Wednesday with Trump flags and “Stop the Steal” signs. In Georgia and Oklahoma, some demonstrators carried guns.

New Mexico state police evacuated staff from a statehouse building that includes the governor’s and secretary of state’s offices as a precaution shortly after hundreds of flag-waving supporters arrived in a vehicle caravan and on horseback. A spokesperson for the governor´s office says there was no indication of threats at the statehouse.

The staff of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox was sent home as several hundred pro-Trump demonstrators rallied outside the Capitol, though the demonstration remained relatively calm. A brief scuffle between pro-Trump demonstrators, who included members of the Proud Boys, and counterprotesters broke out in Columbus, Ohio, but there was no immediate threat to the Capitol.

___

5 p.m.

The police chief of Washington, D.C., says pro-Trump protesters deployed “chemical irritants” on police in order to break into the U.S. Capitol.

Police Chief Robert Contee says officials have declared the scene a riot. One civilian was shot inside the Capitol on Wednesday. Thirteen arrests were made of people from out of the area.

Mayor Muriel Bowser says the behavior of the Trump supporters was “shameful, unpatriotic and above all is unlawful.” She says, “There will be law and order and this behavior will not be tolerated.”

Metropolitan police have been sent to the Capitol, and authorities were coming in from Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey to help out. The National Guard was also deployed, as were Homeland Security investigators and Secret Service.

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. He held a rally earlier Wednesday and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people” and saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”

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___

4:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump, in a video message, is urging supporters to “go home” but is also keeping up false attacks about the presidential election.

The video was issued more than two hours after protesters began storming the Capitol on Wednesday as lawmakers convened for an extraordinary joint session to confirm the Electoral College results and President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Trump opened his video, saying, “I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now.”

He also went on to call the supporters “very special.” He also said, “we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

Republican lawmakers and previous administration officials had begged Trump to give a statement to his supporters to quell the violence. The statement came as authorities struggled to take control of a chaotic situation at the Capitol that led to the evacuation of lawmakers.

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONGRESS’ TALLY OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE

Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Trump issued a restrained call for peace but did not call on his supporters to leave.

Read more:

— Trump supporters storm US Capitol, lawmakers evacuated

— Pence defies Trump, says he can’t reject electoral votes

___

4:35 p.m.

At least one explosive device has been found near the U.S. Capitol amid a violent occupation of the building by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Law enforcement officials said the device was no longer a threat Wednesday afternoon.

Thousands of supporters of the president occupied the Capitol complex as lawmakers were beginning to tally the electoral votes that will formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Vice President Mike Pence has called on protesters to leave the Capitol immediately, going further than Trump, who merely called for his supporters to “remain peaceful.”

GAZETTE COVERAGE

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___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONGRESS’ TALLY OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE

Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Trump issued a restrained call for peace but did not call on his supporters to leave.

Read more:

— Trump supporters storm US Capitol, lawmakers evacuated

— Pence defies Trump, says he can’t reject electoral votes

___

4:10 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden has called the violent protests on the U.S. Capitol “an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings: the doing of the people’s business.”

Biden also demanded President Donald Trump to immediately make a televised address calling on his supporters to cease the violence that he described as an “unprecedented assault’ as pro-Trump protestors violently occupy U.S. Capitol.

Biden’s condemnation came after violent protesters breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, forcing a delay in the constitutional process to affirm the president-elect’s victory in the November election.

Biden addressed the violent protests as authorities struggled to take control of a chaotic situation at the Capitol that led to the evacuation of lawmakers.

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONGRESS’ TALLY OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE

Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Trump issued a restrained call for peace but did not call on his supporters to leave.

Read more:

— Trump supporters storm US Capitol, lawmakers evacuated

— Pence defies Trump, says he can’t reject electoral votes

___

GAZETTE COVERAGE

Our subscribers help us bring this information to you. Please consider a subscription at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe to help support these efforts. Already a subscriber? Thank you!

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

4:05 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is calling on protesters to leave the Capitol immediately, going further than President Donald Trump who merely called for his supported to “remain peaceful.”

In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Pence said, “This attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Pence, long a loyal aide to the president, defied Trump earlier Wednesday, tell him he didn’t have the power to discard electoral votes that will make Democrat Joe Biden the next president on Jan. 20. Trump had publicly called on Pence to overturn the will of the voters, but Pence’s constitutional role in the process was only ceremonial.

Angry Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting the peaceful transfer of power. Trump later issued a restrained call for peace but did not ask his supporters to disperse.

___

4 p.m.

The Pentagon says about 1,100 D.C. National Guard members are being mobilized to help support law enforcement as violent supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol.

Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said Wednesday afternoon that defense leaders have been in contact with the city and congressional leadership.

A defense official said all 1,100 of the D.C. Guard were being activated and sent to the city’s armory. The Guard forces will be used at checkpoints and for other similar duties and could also help in the enforcement of the 6 p.m. curfew being implemented tonight in the city.

The officials said the D.C. request for National Guard was not rejected earlier in the day. Instead, according to officials, the Guard members have a very specific mission that does not include putting military in a law enforcement role at the Capitol. As a result, the Guard must be used to backfill law enforcement outside the Capitol complex, freeing up more law enforcement to respond to the Capitol.

Hoffman said the law enforcement response to the violence will be led by the Justice Department.

___

3:55 p.m.

The top Democrats in Congress are demanding that President Donald Trump order his supporters to leave the Capitol following a chaotic protest aimed at blocking a peaceful transfer of power.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement on Wednesday after violent protesters stormed the Capitol. They said, “We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protestors leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately.”

Trump earlier encouraged his supporters occupying the U.S. Capitol to “remain peaceful,” but he did not call for them to disperse. He held a rally earlier Wednesday in which he repeated his false claims that President-elect Joe Biden had won the election through voter fraud.

He urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people” and saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”

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___

3:50 p.m.

The White House says National Guard troops along with other federal protective services are en route to the Capitol to help end an violent occupation by President Donald Trump’s supporters who are seeking to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that “At President @realDonaldTrump’s direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services.”

She added, “We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful.”

Republican lawmakers have publicly called for Trump to more vocally condemn the violence and to call to an end to the occupation, which halted a joint session of Congress where lawmakers were beginning to count electoral votes.

Trump lost the November election to Democrat Joe Biden. He has refused to concede and has worked over the last two months to convince his supporters that widespread voter fraud prevented his own victory.

___

3:40 p.m.

Republican lawmakers are increasingly calling on President Donald Trump to act to deescalate the violent protests at the U.S. Capitol by his supporters angry about his election loss.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he spoke with the president earlier Wednesday and told him to make a statement to “make sure that we can calm individuals down.”

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that “it is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down.”

Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey told The Associated Press that while he sympathizes with the protesters’ position, they shouldn’t get violent, and it would be “nice” if Trump called on them to “protest in a peaceful way in an appropriate spot, where you belong, where you should be.”

Many Republicans had backed Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud to explain away his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, of Wisconsin, posted a video message urging Trump to “call it off.”

“This is Banana Republic crap that we’re watching right now,” said Gallagher, who had spoken out against objections from fellow Republicans to certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College vote.

___

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3:37 p.m.

Supporters of President Donald Trump got into a angry shouting match with other passengers on a Washington-bound American Airlines plane after they projected a “Trump 2020” logo on the cabin ceiling and walls.

The Trump supporters said a passenger threatened to kill them, and there was yelling back and forth. A flight attendant intervened, telling one passenger in the aisle to sit down.

The incident occurred on Tuesday night after American’s flight 1291 from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., and was taxiing to the gate.

The scene was posted on Twitter by Maranie Staab, a Portland, Oregon-based independent journalist who says on her website that she focuses on human rights and social-justice issues.

“Our team is reviewing this incident,” said American Airlines spokesman Curtis Blessing. “We applaud our outstanding crewmembers for their professionalism in de-escalating a tense onboard situation and getting our customers to their destination safely.”

American said law enforcement was not called, and that passengers deplaned and dispersed without further incident.

___

3:35 p.m.

The Department of Homeland Security is sending additional federal agents to the U.S. Capitol to help quell violence from supporters of President Donald Trump who are protesting Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

A spokesperson told The Associated Press on Wednesday that officers from the Federal Protective Service and U.S. Secret Service agents are being sent to the scene. He says they were requested to assist by U.S. Capitol Police.

Dozens of Trump supporters breached security perimeters and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. They were seen fighting with officers both inside the building and outside.

Trump has riled up his supporters by falsely claiming widespread voter fraud to explain his loss.

— By AP writer Michael Balsamo

___

3:30 p.m.

One person has been shot at the U.S. Capitol as dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building and violently clashed with police.

That’s according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity amid a chaotic situation.

The exact circumstances surrounding the shooting were unclear. The person said the victim had been taken to a hospital. Their condition was not known.

The shooting came as dozens of Trump supporters breached security perimeters and entered the U.S. Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. Trump has riled up his supporters by falsely claiming widespread voter fraud to explain his loss.

— By AP writer Michael Balsamo

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONGRESS’ TALLY OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE

Read more:

— EXPLAINER: How Congress will count Electoral College votes

— Trump insists, falsely, that Pence can decertify results

— GOP’s Biden vote revolt is atypical challenge for McConnell

— Dividing party, Republicans poised to challenge Biden win

___

3:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is encouraging supporters occupying the U.S. Capitol to “remain peaceful,” but he is not calling for them to disperse.

As he faced growing pressure from allies to condemn the violence Wednesday afternoon, Trump tweeted, “No violence!” adding: “Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue.”

But Trump did not ask supporters to vacate the area as the unrest continued.

Trump had appeared earlier at a rally and had urged his supporters to march to the Capitol — at one point even suggesting he would join them. He is upset that he lost the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden and has falsely claimed voter fraud to explain it away.

He also urged his supporters to “get rid of the weak Congress people” — presumably through primary challenges — saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONGRESS’ TALLY OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE

Read more:

— EXPLAINER: How Congress will count Electoral College votes

— Trump insists, falsely, that Pence can decertify results

— GOP’s Biden vote revolt is atypical challenge for McConnell

— Dividing party, Republicans poised to challenge Biden win

___

GAZETTE COVERAGE

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

3:15 p.m.

A Defense Department official says Washington, D.C., has requested an additional 200 National Guard members as supporters of President Donald Trump violently clash with law enforcement at the Capitol.

That request is currently under review at the Pentagon to determine how the Guard can respond to support law enforcement.

According to officials, the Guard members have a very specific mission that does not include putting military at the Capitol. Instead, the Guard must be used to backfill law enforcement outside the Capitol complex, freeing up more law enforcement to respond to the Capitol.

Officials said the request for more National Guard has not been rejected.

Trump had urged his supporters to come to Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. Several Republican lawmakers backed his calls, despite there being no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing in the election.

___

3:10 p.m.

Pressure is mounting on President Donald Trump to condemn supporters who are violently clashing with law enforcement on Capitol Hill.

Among those urging Trump to act: his former communications director, Alyssa Farah, who tweeted that Trump should “Condemn this now.”

She says, “you are the only one they will listen to. For our country!”

Dozens of people have breached security perimeters at the Capitol, forcing the lockdown of the building and halting the vote to certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

Trump has so far offered a single tweet asking his supporters to “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

His former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tweeted: “The President’s tweet is not enough. He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home.”

His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, also addressed Trump supporters in a tweet, calling them the “patriots challenging the fraudulent election” and telling them that ”POTUS wants you to EXPRESS YOUR OPINION PEACEFULLY.”

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONGRESS’ TALLY OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE

Read more:

— EXPLAINER: How Congress will count Electoral College votes

— Trump insists, falsely, that Pence can decertify results

— GOP’s Biden vote revolt is atypical challenge for McConnell

— Dividing party, Republicans poised to challenge Biden win

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

3 p.m.

Protesters backing President Donald Trump have breached the U.S. Capitol, forcing a delay in the constitutional process to affirm Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.

Trump urged his supporters to come to Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of Biden’s win. Several Republican lawmakers have backed his calls, despite there being no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing in the election.

Protesters are now inside the Senate chamber. One got up on the dais and yelled “Trump won that election.”

Several dozen are roaming through the halls, yelling, “Where are they?”

Some were also in the visitors’ galleries.

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONGRESS’ TALLY OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE

Read more:

— EXPLAINER: How Congress will count Electoral College votes

— Trump insists, falsely, that Pence can decertify results

— GOP’s Biden vote revolt is atypical challenge for McConnell

— Dividing party, Republicans poised to challenge Biden win

___

GAZETTE COVERAGE

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2:50 p.m.

Members of Congress inside the House chamber were told by police to put on gas masks after tear gas was dispersed in the Capitol Rotunda amid skirmishes by supporters of President Donald Trump

Pro-Trump protestors breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, violently clashing with law enforcement as lawmakers were gathered inside to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in November’s presidential election.

Law enforcement instructed lawmakers to retrieve masks from under their seats amid the clashes. The Capitol building was placed on lockdown, as Trump supporters marched through evacuated public spaces in the building.

After egging on protests, Trump tweeted to his supporters to “stay peaceful” as they violently clash with law enforcement and breached the Capitol building.

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONGRESS’ TALLY OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE

Read more:

— EXPLAINER: How Congress will count Electoral College votes

— Trump insists, falsely, that Pence can decertify results

— GOP’s Biden vote revolt is atypical challenge for McConnell

— Dividing party, Republicans poised to challenge Biden win

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

2:47 p.m.

After egging on protests, President Donald Trump tweeted to his supporters to “stay peaceful” as they violently clash with law enforcement and breached the Capitol building.

“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement,” Trump tweeted, as tear gas was deployed in the locked-down Capitol. “They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

Trump at a rally earlier Wednesday encouraged his supporters to head to the Capitol.

“We’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them,” Trump said.

___

GAZETTE COVERAGE

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2:45 p.m.

Lawmakers are being evacuated from the U.S. Capitol after protesters breached security and entered the building.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senators were led out, escorted by staff and police on Wednesday afternoon. Members of the House were also being evacuated. Both chambers had been debating the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.

The skirmishes came shortly after President Donald Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud.

Protesters could be seen marching through the Capitol’s stately Statuary Hall shouting and waving Trump banners and American flags.

Some House lawmakers tweeted they were sheltering in place in their offices.

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONGRESS’ TALLY OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE

Read more:

— EXPLAINER: How Congress will count Electoral College votes

— Trump insists, falsely, that Pence can decertify results

— GOP’s Biden vote revolt is atypical challenge for McConnell

— Dividing party, Republicans poised to challenge Biden win

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

2:40 p.m.

The mayor of Washington, D.C., has ordered a curfew in the nation’s capital beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday after protestors seeking to overturn the election results stormed the U.S. Capitol building.

Mayor Muriel Bowser issued the order as protestors supporting President Donald Trump breached the Capitol, where lawmakers were meeting to formally count the electors that will make Joe Biden president on Jan. 20.

The order extends through 6 a.m. Thursday.

The skirmishes came shortly after Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud.

GAZETTE COVERAGE

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___

2:30 p.m.

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.

___

2:20 p.m.

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.

GAZETTE COVERAGE

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___

2:20 p.m.

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.’’

___

1:55 p.m.

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.

___

1:55 p.m.

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.”

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___

1:15 p.m.

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.

___

1:15 p.m.

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.

“If they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight,” Trump said, calling the Republicans who aren’t siding with him “weak.”

Earlier, he named and praised Republicans who have pledged to contest the electoral votes of some states when they come up for approval on Capitol Hill.

His supporters, who braved chilly, windy conditions, chanted “Fight for Trump!”

___

1:10 p.m.

Congress has begun a joint session to count and confirm the Electoral College vote won by Joe Biden.

With supporters of President Donald Trump gathering around the Capitol, more than a dozen Republican senators and more than 100 Republican House members have said they will object to the count from as many as six battleground states. They are echoing Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud.

Their efforts are almost certain to fail as many Republicans have said they will oppose the objections. But the session is expected to last into the night on Wednesday as the House and Senate must consider each objection separately and vote on whether to sustain it.

Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the session. He has no power to overturn the results, despite pressure from Trump to do so.

Biden won the Electoral College 306-232. He is set to be inaugurated Jan. 20.

___

1 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is defying President Donald Trump, saying he does not have the unilateral ability to discard electoral votes that will make Joe Biden president on Jan. 20.

Pence, in a statement issued minutes before he was to begin presiding over a joint session of Congress to count electoral votes, said, “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.”

Trump has pressured his vice president to toss electors from battleground states that voted for Biden during the session.

___

12:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is continuing his pressure-campaign against Vice President Mike Pence, telling thousands of supporters falsely that all Pence has to do to stay in office is send Electoral College votes back to the states to be recertified.

Pence has no such unilateral power under the Constitution and congressional rules that govern the count. It is up to the House and Senate to voice objections, and in any case the states’ electors were chosen in accordance with state law, not fraudulently.

The demonstrators on the Ellipse, south of the White House, cheered Trump on and planned to march to Capitol Hill where Congress will vote to affirm or contest the Electoral College results. The president said he’d be walking with the crowd.

“All Mike Pence has to do is send it back to the states,” Trump said, urging his loyal vice president to join lawmakers who are protesting President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

“Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us,” Trump said, “and if he doesn’t it’s a sad day for our country.” Trump said it would take courage for Pence not to contest the results.

GAZETTE COVERAGE

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12:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is vowing that “we will never concede” as he speaks to supporters shortly before Congress is to convene for a joint session to confirm the Electoral College vote won by President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump took the stage at the Save America rally, which drew thousands of supporters who swamped the nation’s capital as the president’s Republican allies in the House and Senate plan to object to his November election loss to Biden.

Trump urged Vice President Mike Pence, who will play a largely ceremonial role in the process, to block certification of Biden’s win. Pence does not have this power.

“Our country has had enough,” Trump said. “We won’t take it anymore.”

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11 a.m.

Sen. Mitt Romney says President Donald Trump’s election challenge has “disgraced the office of the presidency.”

Romney told reporters on Capitol Hill ahead of Wednesday’s joint session to confirm Joe Biden’s Electoral College win that he was certain of the outcome.

“I’m confident that we’ll proceed as the Constitution demands and tell our supporters the truth — whether or not they want to hear it,” Romney said.

Republican lawmakers are picking up Trump’s demands to challenge the results from several states. But they are not expected to have enough votes in Congress to change the results. Biden is set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20.

Romney said, “President Trump has disrespected the American voters, has dishonored the election system and has disgraced the office of the presidency.”

He called the “gambit” of the challenges in Congress “very disappointing.”

GAZETTE COVERAGE

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