Congress finalizes Biden's win after riot disrupts Capitol

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Melissa Mahtani, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 5:15 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021
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3:32 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Pro-Trump protesters push through barriers at US Capitol Building, met with flash bangs and tear gas

From CNN’s Peter Nickeas

Shortly after 1 p.m. ET pro-Trump protesters pushed through barriers set up along the perimeter of the US Capitol Building. They tussled with officers in full riot gear, some calling officers "traitors" for doing their jobs. 

Protesters could be seen pushing against metal fences, and police using the fences to push protesters back, while other officers reached over the top to club people trying to cross their lines. 

Flash bangs could be heard near the steps of the Capitol as smoke filled the air. In some instances officers could be seen deploying pepper spray.

Teargas has been deployed, but it’s not clear whether by protesters or police, and people wiped tears from their eyes while coughing.  

 Trump supporters chanted "USA" and waved American flags as well as flags reading "Don’t Tread on Me."

2:21 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

GOP Pennsylvania senator: "Why are the objectors objecting only to swing states that President Trump lost?"

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey criticized his GOP colleagues' objections to Arizona's electoral results.

"Why are the objectors objecting only to swing states that President Trump lost? What about the ones he won? I don't know, North Carolina? What about California?," the senator said.

He added:

"If Congress gets to decide which states get to vote in the electoral college, then clearly Congress is selecting the President, not the people. Whichever party controls both houses of congress would control the presidency. The public would never tolerate Congress picking the president."

Toomey emphasized that Congress has no authority under the US Constitution to overturn the results of an election.

"I voted for President Trump. I publicly endorsed President Trump. I campaigned for President Trump. I did not want Joe Biden to win this election. But there's something more important to me than having my preferred candidate sworn in as the next president and that's to have the American people's chosen candidate sworn in as the next president," he concluded.

3:32 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Congresswoman says she evacuated her office as pro-Trump demonstrators protest at Capitol

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

As US Capitol police said the Capitol is on lockdown amid a tense situation with demonstrators outside, Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria tweeted that she had to evacuate her office. 

"I don’t recognize our country today and the members of Congress who have supported this anarchy do not deserve to represent their fellow Americans," Luria added in another tweet.

2:15 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Sen. Klobuchar pushes back against GOP arguments and underlines historic nature of today's vote

CNN
CNN

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, pushed back against Sen. Ted Cruz's claims that the election was fraudulent, saying he didn't make the same arguments for lawmakers who were elected on the same ballots.

"I did not see Senator Cruz over at the swearing-in of the House of Representatives last Sunday asking for an audit. He did not stop their swearing in, because there was no fraud. He did not ask for an audit, because we had a fair election," she said during the debate on the Senate floor on an objection to Arizona's electoral votes.

The senator also pointed out several lawsuits that were dismissed by courts in Arizona.

"What matters is not our futures, not our own short-term destinies. What matters is our democracy's destiny, because, I think many of us know, people will not know who we are 100 years from now, or 200 years from now, but what they will know is this – they will know what we did today, how we voted today, and that is more important than who we are," Klobuchar said.

3:35 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

US Capitol on lockdown after escalating situation among demonstrators

From Ted Barrett and Manu Raju 

John Minchillo/AP
John Minchillo/AP

The US Capitol is on lockdown during a tense situation with demonstrators outside the building, according to Capitol police officers.

A CNN employee tried to leave the building and couldn’t because police said the building is on lockdown. 

Congress is currently in session to count and certify the Electoral College votes for president and vice president.

5:24 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

With no evidence, Sen. Ted Cruz objects to Arizona's electoral votes

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury, Manu Raju, Lauren Fox and Jeremy Herb

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz objected to Arizona's electoral votes, despite no evidence supporting claims of voting irregularities and fraud.

Cruz is leading the efforts by some GOP lawmakers in objecting to electoral results from battleground states where President-elect Joe Biden won.

"Let me be clear, I'm not arguing for setting aside the election," Cruz said. Instead Cruz appealed to both Democrats and Republicans to opt for Congress to create an electoral commission, similar to one that was used in the 1876 election.

"Five house members, five senators, five supreme court justices, examined the evidence and rendered a judgment. And what I would urge of this body is that we do the same. That we appoint an electoral commission to conduct a 10 day emergency audit. Consider the evidence and resolve the claims. For those on the democratic aisle who say there is no evidence they've been rejected, then you should rest in comfort if that's the case, an electoral commission would reject those claims," Cruz said.

Cruz ended his remarks by urging his colleagues to not take "the easy path, but instead act together, astonish the viewers and act in a bipartisan sense to say we will have a credible and fair tribunal, consider the facts, consider the claims, consider the evidence."

Remember: There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and there is no evidence that electors from the electoral college were fraudulently chosen, as all states have certified their elections. 

The objections during today's formal count of electoral votes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will not change the results of the election. Every Democrat and some Republicans will reject the challenges in both chambers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

1:58 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Schumer: A peaceful transition of power is extolled by "children in the second grade but not by some here"

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

CNN
CNN

Criticizing GOP objections to Arizona's electoral results, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said a peaceful transition of power "is extolled by school children in the second grade but not by some here."

He added:

"As we speak, the eyes of the world are on this chamber questioning whether America is still the shining example of democracy, the shining city on the hill. What message will we send today to our people, to the world that has so looked up to us for centuries? What message will we send to fledgling democracies who study our constitution, mirror our laws and traditions in the hopes that they, too, can build a country ruled by the consent of the governed."
2:06 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

McConnell: Senate has a “higher calling than an endless spiral of partisan vengeance”

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

CNN
CNN

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the "United States Senate has a higher calling than an endless spiral of partisan vengeance" as he dismissed GOP lawmakers’ challenge to Electoral College results. 

McConnell warned against actions that would “guarantee the delegitimatizing efforts after 2016 is a permanent, new routine for both sides.”

“Framers built the Senate to stop short-term passions from boiling over and melting the foundations of our republic. So I believe protecting our constitutional order requires respecting the limits of our own power. It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise American voters and overrule the courts and the states on this extraordinarily thin basis,” he added.

McConnell closed with this statement: “I will vote to respect the people's decision and defend our system of government as we know it.”

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2:06 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Schumer on Republicans objecting to electoral votes: "They will lose. They know that."

CNN
CNN

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said those lawmakers who are objecting to Electoral College votes are "in the minority" and "will lose."

"The American people elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the next President and Vice President of the United States. And yet, a number of our colleagues have organized an effort to undermine and object to that free and fair election. They are in the minority. They will lose. They know that," he said.

He added, "They are going to object to the counting of the vote any way. And in the process they will embarrass themselves, they will embarrass their party, and worst of all they will embarrass their country."

Schumer said that Congress does not determine the outcome of elections — "the people do."

"They have no evidence of widespread voter fraud upon which to base their objections," Schumer said.

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