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Wednesday March 3rd, 2021 12:40AM

The Latest: Pressure mounts on Trump to condemn protesters

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress’ tally of the Electoral College vote won by Joe Biden (all times local):

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.

___

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.

___

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.

___

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.

___

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.

___

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.

___

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.”

___

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.

___

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.”

___

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.”

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