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Congress set to certify Joe Biden's election win after Trump mob storms Capitol
6 January 2021, 19:31 | Updated: 7 January 2021, 07:22
The US Senate has reconvened after the Capitol Building was locked down as Trump supporters stormed inside in protest in unprecedented scenes last night.
Congress will resume counting electoral votes and is poised to later certify Joe Biden's election victory.
Last night's violence has been condemned by world leaders and former leaders.
Former president Barack Obama called it a moment of great dishonour and shame for the United States.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer condemned the president as proceedings continued this morning.
Overnight officials declared the US Capitol complex "secure" after heavily armed police moved to end a nearly four-hour violent occupation by supporters of President Donald Trump.
An announcement saying "the Capitol is secure" rang out on Wednesday evening inside a secure location for officials of the House.
The occupation interrupted Congress' Electoral College count that will formalise President-elect Joe Biden's upcoming inauguration on January 20.
Politicians were evacuated to secure locations around the Capitol complex after thousands of Trump supporters breached the building and skirmished with police officers.
The politicians have signalled that they would resume the constitutionally mandated count as soon as it was safe to do so.
Supporters of President Trump clashed with police and stormed the building in Washington as a joint session of Congress moves to certify electoral college results.
One person has been shot during skirmishes between police and Trump supporters, police have confirmed. The woman later died, reports suggest.
Law enforcement officials also said at least one explosive device was found near the US Capitol, confirming it was "no longer a threat".
Neighbouring congressional office buildings were under evacuation orders and confrontations had become increasingly violent, with tear gas being deployed and punches being thrown.
Protesters are reported to have breached the Capitol and are outside the Senate chamber, where proceedings have been halted.
Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser has imposed a city-wide curfew from 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 6, until 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 7.
Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
The Department of Homeland Security is sending additional federal agents to the US Capitol to help quell the violence.
A spokesperson told the Associated Press that officers from the Federal Protective Service and US Secret Service agents are being sent to the scene.
He said they were requested to assist by US Capitol Police.
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."
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
During the protests, President Trump tweeted: "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!"
In a follow up tweet, he said: "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!"
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted: "The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now.
"Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building."
Donald Trump has posted a video on his Twitter in response to the protests.
He said: "I know your pain, I know you're hurt - we had an election that was stolen from us, it was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side.
"But you have to go home now, we have to have peace, we have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order. We don't want anybody hurt.
"It's a very tough period of time, there's never been a time like this where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us - from me, from you, from our country.
"This was a fraudulent election. But 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, you've seen what happens, you've seen the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil.
"I know how you feel. But go home, and go home in peace."
Twitter later turned off likes, retweets and comments on the recorded address.
I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution by demanding an end to this siege.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 6, 2021
President-elect Joe Biden said that democracy is "under an unprecedented assault", saying "America is so much better than what we’re seeing today."
"There has never been anything we can't do when we do it together," he said.
"This is the United States of America. There has never ever ever been a thing we've tried to do that we've done together and not been able to do it.
"President Trump - step up."
He also urged members of "the mob" to "pull back", saying they "do not represent who we are".
He said we are "seeing a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness".
"This is not dissent, it's disorder, chaos and border on sedition and it must end now.
"Pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward."The world is watching."
The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building.— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) January 6, 2021
Tom Tugendhat, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the scenes in the US were "extremely saddening."
He told LBC's Iain Dale: "They're incredibly saddening.
"For those of us who are extremely passionate about the United States, who see it as a great land of liberty that has offered the world so much, to see their democracy being so eroded, so undermined, is incredibly saddening.
"Not just because of what it does to the American people, but because of what it says to all of us.
"It says that demagogues and those who wish to play with the emotions of a crowd can not just threaten a momentary peace, but could actually threaten the entire system under which we live."
The riots have also been condemned by numerous US and UK politicians, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who described the "disgraceful scenes", adding: "The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power."
Former President George W Bush has said the Capitol Hill protests are a "sickening and heartbreaking sight.
In a statement, he said: "Laura and I are watching the scenes of mayhem unfolding at the seat of our Nation's government in disbelief and dismay. It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight.
"This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic - not our democratic republic.
"I am appalled by the reckless behaviour of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions and our law enforcement.
"The violent assault on the Capitol - and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress - was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.
"Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation.
"In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law.
"To those who are disappointed in the result of the election: Our country is more important than the politics of the moment. "Let the officials elected by the people fulfil their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety.
"May God continue to bless the United States of America."
Earlier on Wednesday, Donald Trump told thousands of supporters gathered in Washington that "we will never concede" the presidential election.
Mr Trump addressed a "Save America" rally on the Ellipse, just south of the White House, following speeches by his sons Eric and Donald Jr.
He urged Vice President Mike Pence to help overturn Joe Biden's victory in the November election when Congress sits later to certify the Electoral College votes.
Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
"If Mike Pence does the right thing we win the election," Mr Trump said.
"All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people," Mr Trump said, repeating a falsehood he has been promoting leading up to the congressional session.
Current scenes in Washington DC where Donald Trump has told thousands of supporters gathered in Washington DC that "we will never concede" the presidential election.pic.twitter.com/HHlfCMC4XO— EJ Ward (@EJWardNews) January 6, 2021
However on Wednesday, Mr Pence defied the president's call, saying "he does not have the power to discard electoral votes".
The vice-president issued a statement saying it was "my considered judgment 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".
Following Mr Pence's letter, Mr Trump tweeted: "Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!"
Lou Murray, a life insurance salesman from Boston, said he and many others still hoped Congress and Vice President Mike Pence would not certify the vote.
"I hope Vice President Pence has courage today, and I hope any politician who thinks he has a future shows courage to stand up and do what's right," Mr Murray said.
At the Lincoln Memorial, dozens of Trump supporters stood on the steps with large Trump flags.
Nirav Peterson, who flew in from Seattle to attend the rally, said there would be a groundswell of anger and activism if Mr Trump does not serve another term and said Republicans who do not back him should face primary challenges.
"People are angry. This isn't going to go away," Ms Peterson said as she took video of the large crowd gathered beyond the steel barriers at the foot of the Washington Monument.
"You have a huge, huge portion of the people who aren't going to take it any more."
Like many others, Peterson was not wearing a mask. She said she opposes the shutdowns prompted by the pandemic and does not believe anyone has died from Covid-19. More than 350,000 people have died from the virus in the US.
Organisers planned an afternoon march to the Capitol, where Congress will be voting to affirm the Electoral College results, which Mr Trump continues to dispute.
A number of prominent Trump supporters were expected to attend the protest events, which began on Tuesday with a rally at Freedom Plaza near the White House.
As temperatures dropped and a steady rain swept on to the streets, hundreds remained in the plaza into nightfall.
"I'm just here to support the president," said David Wideman, a 45-year-old firefighter who travelled from Memphis, Tennessee.
Mr Wideman acknowledged he was "confused" by a string of losses from the president's legal team in their attempt to overturn the results of the election and did not know what options Mr Trump had left.
"I'm not sure what he can do at this point, but I want to hear what he has to say," Mr Wideman said.
The president tweeted his support for the protesters: "Washington is being inundated with people who don't want to see an election victory stolen by emboldened Radical Left Democrats. Our Country has had enough, they won't take it anymore! We hear you (and love you) from the Oval Office. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
The speakers included Mr Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, whom the president pardoned after he was twice convicted of lying to the FBI in special counsel Robert Mueller's
"We stand at a crucible moment in United States history," Mr Flynn told the mostly maskless crowd. "This country is awake now."