WASHINGTON – Congress has concluded its count of the electoral vote for the 2020 presidential election and has certified President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory.
The action occurred early Thursday morning and took place only after an historic day at the nation’s capitol in which a mob of individuals, identified as supporters of President Donald Trump, stormed the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday afternoon while congress was in session to disrupt certification proceedings that are part of the constitutional process for allowing a peaceful transfer of power at the White House.
Following Thursday’s morning certification by Congress, President Trump for the first time acknowledged his defeat in the November election and announced there would be an “orderly transition on January 20th.”
But Trump’s acknowledgement came only the certification vote was completed and also after he attended a rally near the Capitol, where he continued to urge supporters to fight the election results and encouraged them to march to the Capitol, using remarks that were peppered with incendiary language and rife with violent undertones.
Once the mob arrived at the Capitol, there wasn’t enough security on hand to keep the large group at bay and hundreds of people eventually rushed and entered the building and freely roamed the halls, ransacked offices, and took items and posed for pictures in the chambers of both the Senate and House of Representatives. Meanwhile, members of Congress, their staff, and media were ushered into a secure location in the basement of the Capitol out of fear for their safety.
During the chaos, one woman was shot and killed, and three others died due to what was described as medical emergencies. No elected representatives were reported to be injured.
After the mob was cleared from the building and the chaos was subdued, both chambers resumed proceedings early Wednesday night, and they continued until the business of the people was concluded early Thursday morning.
Sen. Charles Schumer, who represents New York in the Senate and who is the current minority leader of the Democratic Party, spoke events that occured earlier in the day.
“I have never lived through or even imagined an experience like the one we have just witnessed in this Capitol,” Schumer said. “President Franklin Roosevelt set aside Dec. 7, 1941, as a day that will live in infamy. Unfortunately, we can now add Jan. 6, 2021, to that very short list of dates in American history that will live forever in infamy.”
Schumer also pulled no punches in blaming President Trump for the chaos.
“This will be a stain on our country not so easily washed away – the final, terrible, indelible legacy of the 45th president of the United States, undoubtedly our worst… Make no mistake, today’s events did not happen spontaneously. The president, who promoted conspiracy theories and motivated these thugs, the president who exhorted them to come to our nation’s capital, egged them on – he hardly ever discourages violence and more often encourages it – this president bears a great deal of the blame. This mob was in good part President Trump’s doing, incited by his words, his lies. This violence, in good part his responsibility, his ever-lasting shame. Today’s events certainly — certainly — would not have happened without him.”
Schumer also said that those who participated in storming the Capitol should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“I want to be very clear: Those who performed these reprehensible acts cannot be called protesters – no, these were rioters and insurrectionists, goons and thugs, domestic terrorists. They do not represent America. They were a few thousand violent extremists who tried to take over the Capitol building and attack our democracy. They must and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law – hopefully by this administration, if not certainly by the next. They should be provided no leniency,” Schumer said.
Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, Chautauqua County’s representative in Washington – Republican Congressman Tom Reed – also spoke out against the storming of the Capitol.
“I come to this side of the aisle as a proud Republican, but most importantly, as a proud American,” Reed said as he moved from the Republican side of the House chamber to the Democratic side. “Today we saw an assault on our democracy. I love this institution. I love the United States Congress. And I love the United States of America. And what I saw today was mob rule that spat upon the blood of my father that is in the soil of Europe and in the soil of Korea. And who gave us that blood this sacred constitution and this sacred ability to lead this world as a power that says, we settle our differences not with mob rule, we settle our differences through elections. And when those elections are over, we have a peaceful transition of power.
“Now, make no mistake to my colleagues on the democratic side of the aisle, I will be passionate in my disagreement with you. I will be passionate in my ideas for the future of this country. And I will fight for my republican ideas that I hold near and dear. But I will stand with you tonight and send a message to the nation and all Americans that what we saw today was not American, and what we see tonight in this body shall be what we do in America and that is to transfer power in a peaceful way.”
Meanwhile, Trumps’ acknowledgement of losing the election also included a statement that may lead to additional unrest in the future, saying, “While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.”
Trump’s statement was posted to Twitter by his social media director. His own account had been locked by the company for posting messages that appeared to justify the assault on the seat of the nation’s democracy. His Facebook and Instagram accounts were also locked from being used.
Trump’s response to the violence underscored his months-long obsession with trying to overturn the results of the election.
He has spent the final days of his presidency angrily stewing and lashing out at Republicans for perceived disloyalty while refusing to acknowledge his loss or concede.
The violence, coupled with the president’s tepid response, alarmed many in the White House and appeared to push Republicans allies to the breaking point after years of allegiance to Trump. According to the Associated Press, a number of White House aides were discussing a potential mass resignation, according to people familiar with the conversation. And others quickly departed. More departures were expected in the coming days, although other aides indicated they planned to stay to help smooth the transition to the Biden administration. And some harbored concerns about what Trump might do in his final two weeks in office if they were not there to serve as guardrails when so few remain.
Trump has been single-mindedly focused on his electoral defeat since Election Day, aides said, at the expense of the other responsibilities of his office, including the fight against the raging coronavirus. Indeed, it was Vice President Mike Pence, not Trump, who spoke with the acting defense secretary to discuss mobilizing the D.C National Guard on Wednesday afternoon.