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Wednesday May 12th, 2021 7:16AM

The Latest: Congress splits up to debate PA vote count

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):

12:15 a.m. Thursday

Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri have objected to the counting of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, triggering up to two hours of debate in the House and Senate.

The objections come 11 hours after the congressional count to confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory began, and after lawmakers had to evacuate both chambers for several hours to escape a mob that had violently breached the Capitol.

Hawley said last week that he would object to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, saying Congress should investigate voter fraud. President Donald Trump has falsely said since his defeat that there was widespread fraud in the election.

Biden won Pennsylvania by just over 80,000 votes. Since the Nov. 3 election, Trump and his allies filed at least a half-dozen lawsuits challenging Biden’s win on various grounds, including that many or all of the state’s mail-in ballots were illegal.

The lawsuits failed as judge after judge found no violation of state law or constitutional rights, or no grounds to grant an immediate halt to certifying the election.

___

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. Congress returned later Wednesday to resume their proceedings after the Capitol was cleared by law enforcement.

Read more:

— Pro-Trump mob storms US Capitol in bid to overturn election

— A moment in America, unimaginable but perhaps inevitable

— AP PHOTOS: Scenes of violence at U.S. Capitol shock world

— Capitol has seen violence over 220 years, but not like this

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

___

HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

11:20 p.m.

The House has voted overwhelmingly to reject an objection to President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Arizona, joining the Senate in upholding the results of the election there.

The objection failed 303-121 on Wednesday night, with only Republicans voting in support.

Earlier Wednesday, supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol, forcing a lockdown of the lawmakers and staff inside. Trump has claimed widespread voter fraud to explain away his defeat to Biden, though election officials have said there wasn’t any.

Now that Arizona is out of the way, Congress will reconvene as the joint session and make its way through the rest of the states that have objections.

__

11:10 p.m.

Four people died as supporters of President Donald Trump violently occupied the U.S. Capitol.

Washington, D.C., Police Chief Robert Contee said the dead on Wednesday included a woman who was shot by the U.S. Capitol Police, as well as three others who died in “medical emergencies.”

Police said both law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants during the hourslong occupation of the Capitol building before it was cleared Wednesday evening by law enforcement.

The woman was shot earlier Wednesday as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol where police were armed on the other side. She was hospitalized with a gunshot wound and later died.

D.C. police officials also say two pipe bombs were recovered, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee. Police found a cooler from a vehicle that had a long gun and Molotov cocktail on Capitol grounds.

___

10:15 p.m.

The Senate has overwhelmingly turned aside a challenge to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona, guaranteeing the result will stand.

The objection to the results in Arizona -- spearheaded by Rep. Paul Gosar and Sen. Ted Cruz -- was rejected 93-6 on Wednesday night. All votes in favor came from Republicans, but after violent protesters mobbed the Capitol earlier Wednesday a number of GOP senators who had planned to support the objection reversed course.

The Republicans raised the objection based on false claims pushed by President Donald Trump and others of issues with the vote in Arizona, which were repeatedly dismissed in Arizona’s courts and by the state’s election officials.

___

10:10 p.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham says a commission to examine the 2020 election is not a proper next step and affirmed that Joe Biden is the “legitimate president of the United States.”

Graham, a South Carolina Republican and longtime ally of President Donald Trump, called it a “uniquely bad idea to delay this election,” referencing the commission idea proposed by his fellow South Carolina Republican, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

Graham says, “Count me out. Enough is enough.”

Earlier Wednesday, supporters of Trump breached the U.S. Capitol, forcing a lockdown of the lawmakers and staff inside. Trump has claimed widespread voter fraud to explain away his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden, though election officials have said there wasn’t any.

Graham said that “if you’re a conservative,” the idea that Vice President Mike Pence could reverse the results of the election, as President Donald Trump had urged him to do, was “the most offensive concept in the world.”

___

10 p.m.

Police have arrested 30 people for violating a curfew imposed in Washington, D.C., after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Officials say the 30 people were arrested Wednesday evening after being found on the streets after the 6 p.m.

The curfew had been imposed after scores of supporters of President Donald Trump broke into the Capitol, halting the constitutional process of voting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win. They were later forcibly removed from the Capitol.

The Metropolitan Police Department said 15 other people had been arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday in various protest-related arrests on an array of charges, including weapons possession and assault.

Fire officials also took 13 people to area hospitals on Wednesday from protest-related injuries.

___

9:55 p.m.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley says he is going forward with his objection to the Electoral College results in Pennsylvania despite the violent breach at the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

The Missouri senator said he did not support violence but said the Senate should go forward with a legal process that includes his objections.

Hawley says his objections should be debated “peacefully, without violence, without attacks, without bullets.” He says he hoped lawmakers would not brush his concerns aside because of the violence earlier Wednesday, including the death of a protester inside the Capitol.

Trump has claimed widespread voter fraud to explain away his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden, though election officials have said there wasn’t any.

___

9:45 p.m.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is comparing violence at the U.S. Capitol to protests against racial injustice over the summer after the killing of George Floyd by police.

The U.S. Capitol was overrun by a mob supportive of President Donald Trump on Wednesday as Congress counted electoral votes to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win. Trump has falsely said there was widespread fraud in the election to explain his defeat and encouraged his supporters to come to Washington.

McCarthy said, “Mobs don’t rule America. Laws rule America. It was true when our cities were burning this summer and it is true now.”

The comment got loud applause from Republicans. Democrats in the chamber sat silently.

Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, was killed in May after a white police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he said he couldn’t breathe.

McCarthy, an ally of Trump’s, said Wednesday was the “saddest day” he’s ever had in Congress.

He said: “It is clear this Congress will not be the same after today.”

___

9:15 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election win will show the world it won’t back down.

Pelosi made her comments as the House reconvened after being shut down for hours Wednesday by unruly pro-Trump protesters. She said that every four years the ritual provides an example to the world of American democracy.

Pelosi says, “Despite the shameful actions of today, we will still do so, we will be part of a history that shows the world what America is made of.”

Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, noted that Wednesday is the feast of the Epiphany and prayed that the violence would be “an epiphany to heal” for the country.

___

9:10 pm.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is sending 1,000 members of the state’s National Guard to Washington, D.C., to help “the peaceful transition of presidential power.”

Cuomo, a Democrat, said 1,000 troops would be sent for up to two weeks at the request of U.S. National Guard officials. It comes after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters rampaged through the U.S. Capitol.

Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday: “For 244 years, the cornerstone of our democracy has been the peaceful transfer of power, and New York stands ready to help ensure the will of the American people is carried out, safely and decisively.”

They will join law enforcement from Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey who are also coming to D.C.’s aid.

The president’s supporters incited chaos in a protest over a transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden. Trump convinced them that he was cheated out of a victory by rampant, widespread voter fraud, a false claim.

___

8:55 p.m.

Multiple Republican senators have reversed course and now say they won’t object to congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Their change of heart came after a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier Wednesday and interrupted their proceedings. One person was fatally shot.

Sens. Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Braun of Indiana and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia all said in light of the violence they would stand down from planned objections to Biden’s win.

Lawmakers gathered to certify the Electoral College votes from each state were forced to evacuate after an angry mob of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol. Loeffler said that the “violence, the lawlessness, and siege of the halls of Congress” were a “direct attack” on the “sanctity of the American democratic process.”

All three had previously signed on to Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud to explain his defeat. Loeffler has just days left in her term. She lost her Senate race to Democrat Raphael Warnock earlier Wednesday.

___

8:45 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Congress “will not be deterred” in confirming the results of the presidential election hours after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The Republican leader reopened the Senate late Wednesday vowing to finish confirming the Electoral College for President-elect Joe Biden. It was interrupted earlier in the way when rioters breached the security perimeter and clashed with law enforcement before disrupting Congress’ tallying of the Electoral College votes. One person was fatally shot.

McConnell says demonstrators “tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed.”

McConnell plans to keep the Senate in session Wednesday to finish confirming the results.

Trump has repeatedly told his supporters that the November election was stolen from him, even though that is not true. He reiterated the claim in a video filmed as his demonstrators were storming the Capitol.

___

8:35 p.m.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says President Donald Trump “bears a great deal of the blame” after a mob loyal to him stormed the U.S. Capitol.

As the Senate reconvened to count electoral votes that will confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s win, Schumer said that Jan. 6, 2021, will “live forever in infamy” and will be a stain on the democracy.

Schumer said the events “did not happen spontaneously.”

He said Wednesday: “The president, who promoted conspiracy theories that motivated these thugs, the president, who exhorted them to come to our nation’s capital, egged them on.”

Trump has falsely claimed that there was widespread fraud in the election to explain away his defeat.

Schumer says the protesters should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

___

8:20 p.m.

Former President Barack Obama says history will rightly remember the violence at the Capitol as a moment of great dishonor and shame for the nation.

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.

Obama say the violence was “incited by a sitting president” who baselessly lied about the outcome of the presidential election. He has convinced his supporters that he lost the election to President-elect Joe Biden only because Democrats cheated, a false claim.

Obama says it should not have come as a surprise, and that for two months “a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth.”

He says “their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo.”

___

8:10 p.m.

The Senate has resumed debating the Republican challenge against Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, more than six hours after pro-Trump mobs attacked the Capitol and forced lawmakers to flee.

Scores of Republican representatives and 13 GOP senators had planned to object Wednesday to the electoral votes of perhaps six states that backed Biden. It was unclear whether those objections would continue in light of the day’s violent events.

President Donald Trump has falsely insisted that the election was marred by fraud and that he actually won. He reiterated those claims in remarks to thousands of protesters outside the White House early Wednesday and goaded them to march to the Capitol, which many of them did.

The mayhem had forced the House and Senate to abruptly end the day’s debates and flee to safety under the protection of police. And it prompted bipartisan outrage as many lawmakers blamed Trump for fostering the violence.

___

8:05 p.m.

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned in protest over President Donald Trump’s Syria policies, blamed the president for the violence at the U.S. Capitol.

In a sharp rebuke Wednesday, Mattis said the violence was fomented by Trump, who has used the presidency “to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens.”

His written statement concluded, “Our Constitution and our Republic will overcome this stain and We the People will come together again in our never-ending effort to form a more perfect Union, while Mr. Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country.”

Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general who stepped down as Pentagon chief in December 2018, had an embattled relationship with Trump, but largely remained publicly quiet and avoided direct criticism. Since he left the job, however, he has been more openly derisive of Trump, including a pubilc condemnation of the president’s heavy-handed use of military force to quell protests near the White House last June.

___

7:55 p.m.

Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff and press secretary for first lady Melania Trump, has resigned following violent protests at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Grisham says in a statement Wednesday that it was an “honor” to serve the country in the White House and be part of he first lady’s “mission” to help children.

Grisham was one of Trump’s longest serving aides, having joined the campaign in 2015. She served as the White House press secretary and never held a press briefing.

Wednesday’s violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by the president’s supporters sparked renewed conversations inside the White House about mass resignations by mid-level aides who are responsible for operations of the office of the president.

Two people familiar with the conversations said the aides were torn between fears of what more would happen if they left and a desire to register their disgust with their boss. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

— AP writer Zeke Miller

___

7:45 p.m.

The Republican National Committee says it strongly condemns the violence at the Capitol, adding that the violent scenes “do not represent acts of patriotism, but an attack on our country and its founding principles.”

The RNC is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform. Its statement condemning the violence came hours after Republican President Donald Trump baselessly complained that the election was stripped away “from great patriots.” He went on to tell them to “go home with love & in peace.”

The group’s communications director, Michael Ahrens, says, “What happened today was domestic terrorism.”

He says to see the U.S. flag used “in the name of unfounded conspiracy theories is a disgrace to the nation, and every decent American should be disgusted by it.”

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over him, citing false claims of voter fraud. 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.”

___

7:40 p.m.

Former President Bill Clinton says the attack on the U.S. Capitol was fueled over four years of “poison politics” and lit by President Donald Trump.

Clinton said in a statement Wednesday night that the riot at the Capitol resulted from a combination of deliberate disinformation that created distrust in the system and pit Americans against one another.

He wrote, “The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost.”

His wife, Hillary Clinton, lost a bitter election to Trump in 2016 and conceded to him immediately. Trump has refused to accept his defeat by Democrat Joe Biden in November and is trying to cast him as an illegitimate president.

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of 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.”

___

7:20 p.m.

A West Virginia lawmaker took video of himself and other supporters of President Donald Trump rushing into the U.S. Capitol after they breached the security perimeter.

In the video by Republican Del. Derrick Evans, later deleted from his social media page, he is shown wearing a helmet and clamoring at the door to breach the building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

“We’re in! Keep it moving, baby!” he said in a packed doorway amid Trump followers holding flags and complaining of being pepper sprayed. Once inside, Evans could be seen on video milling around the Capitol Rotunda, where historical paintings depict the republic’s founding, and yelled, “No vandalizing!”

State House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw said Evans will need to “answer to his constituents and colleagues regarding his involvement in what has occurred today.”

He said he has not spoken to Evans yet about his involvement.

The delegate from Wayne County said in a statement later on Facebook that he was heading back to West Virginia and “was simply there as an independent member of the media to film history.”

___

6:55 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress will resume the Electoral College proceedings once the Capitol is cleared of pro-Donald Trump protesters and safe for use.

Pelosi said she made the decision Wednesday in consultation with the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the vice president, who will preside.

She noted the day would always be “part of history,” but now it would be “as such a shameful picture of our country was put out into the world.”

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.”

Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and clashed with law enforcement before disrupting Congress’ tallying of the Electoral College votes. Trump has repeatedly told his supporters that the November election was stolen from him, even though that is not true.

___

6:45 p.m.

Dozens of pro-Trump protesters remain on the streets of the nation’s capital in defiance of the curfew imposed after rioters stormed the Capitol.

The mostly maskless crowd was forcibly removed from the Capitol on Wednesday after breaking into the building and halting the constitutional process of voting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win. They were pushed out of the immediate area and moved down the hill, where they taunted law enforcement and moved barricades.

Police said anyone found on the streets after the 6 p.m. curfew would be arrested. Officers in full riot gear with shields lined the streets near the U.S. Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said their debate on affirming Biden’s victory would continue after the Capitol was secured.

___

6:40 p.m.

The head of the nation’s largest union of flight attendants says people who took part in the violent protest at the Capitol must be banned from flying.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a statement Wednesday that “some of the people who traveled in our planes (Tuesday) participated in the insurrection at the Capitol today.”

She says, “Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the DC area. Acts against our democracy, our government and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight.”

Nelson and the union endorsed President-elect Joe Biden over President Donald Trump before the November election.

Trump supporters on a Delta Air Lines flight from Salt Lake City to Washington heckled Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the lone Republican senator to vote to oust Trump after he was impeached. On an American Airlines flight from Dallas, a large contingent of Trump supporters got in an angry yelling match with other passengers after one of the president’s supporters projected “Trump 2020” on the cabin ceiling and walls.

___

6:30 p.m.

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney is blaming President Donald Trump for inciting a violent “insurrection” at the Capitol.

Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee and a frequent critic of Trump’s, said the violent breach of the Capitol on Wednesday was “due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months.″

The Utah senator said those who continue to support Trump’s “dangerous gambit” by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election “will forever be seen as complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.″

Romney ridiculed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other Republicans who want an “audit” of the election results: “Please! No Congressional led audit will ever convince those voters, particularly when the president will continue to claim the election was stolen.”

The simple truth, Romney said, “is that President-elect (Joe) Biden won this election. President Trump lost.″

___

6:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump has appeared to justify the violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

In a tweet Wednesday night, Trump said, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

He added, “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and clashed with law enforcement before disrupting Congress’ tallying of the Electoral College votes. Trump has repeatedly told his supporters that the November election was stolen from him, even though that is not true.

Trump has faced mounting criticism from Republican lawmakers to do more to condemn the violence being perpetrated in his name.

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