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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5:26 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Lawmaker says staff were able to remove electoral ballots before rioters breached Senate floor

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Sen. Jeff Merkley tweeted a photo of the electoral ballots on the Senate floor. Merkley noted that Senate staff "rescued" the ballots before rioters entered the Senate floor.

He speculated, "if our capable floor staff hadn't grabbed them, they would have been burned by the mob."

5:25 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Rep. Ilhan Omar says she is drawing up articles of impeachment against Trump

As night begins to fall on Capitol Hill following a day of unprecedented unrest, Rep. Ilhan Omar said she is drawing up articles of impeachment against President Trump.

"Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate," Omar tweeted this afternoon. "We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath."

This decision comes roughly 11 months after the Senate voted to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment.

Read the tweet:

5:22 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris calls for "assault" on Capitol to end

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris took to Twitter following President-elect Biden’s remarks Wednesday afternoon to call for an end to the violence at the Capitol

"I join President-elect @JoeBiden in calling for the assault on the Capitol and our nation’s public servants to end, and as he said, 'allow the work of democracy to go forward," she tweeted.

Harris was in Congress when the riots began but was safely evacuated.

5:23 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Trump's former homeland security adviser says the President is "culpable for this siege"

From CNN’s Kaitlan Collins

White House Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert answers questions during a White House briefing September 11, 2017 in Washington.
White House Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert answers questions during a White House briefing September 11, 2017 in Washington. Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump's first homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, is one of many former officials condemning his response to the mob chaos on Capitol Hill.

"This is beyond wrong and illegal. It’s un-American," Bossert tweeted. "The President undermined American democracy baselessly for months. As a result, he’s culpable for this siege, and an utter disgrace."

Bossert added: "Despite of him, not because of him, police will regain control and prosecute those involved."

5:22 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Former DC police chief: Anyone inside the Capitol should be "face down and in handcuffs”

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Former Washington, DC, police chief Charles Ramsey told CNN today that authorities must urgently clear the US Capitol building and anyone who breached the building ought to be arrested. 

"They have to reestablish a perimeter," said Ramsey, speaking on CNN as an unknown number individuals continued to occupy the US Capitol hours after a pro-Trump mob stormed it. 

"Anybody inside that building … ought to be face-down in handcuffs right now," said Ramsey. "They need to be locking them up ... but first they have to gain control and right now they do not have control."

As to why authorities have been unable to secure the US Capitol complex grounds so far, Ramsey said officials may be staging for a coordinated operation.

"Maybe they are assembling somewhere trying to get their battle plan together in terms of how they are going to handle it," said Ramsey, who led the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia for nearly 10 years.

"They have to reestablish a perimeter and get them out of the building," he said. "They need to get started as soon as they possibly can."

See more:

5:15 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Here's what we know is happening now at the US Capitol

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Rioters continue to face off with law enforcement at the US Capitol building after they forced their way inside earlier.

CNN's Alex Marquardt described the scene as a "stand-off" with rioters still surrounding the edge of the building. He reported that to a "small extent," law enforcement were pushing back the mob.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a 6 p.m. curfew, but Marquardt said, "There's no indication right now that these protesters have any inclination of going anywhere. There's no indication that they heard the message from the President to go home."

CNN's Pete Muntean described a similar scene and said that law enforcement seemed to be "outnumbered" by the mob.

CNN's Brian Todd reported seeing smoke grenades being deployed to disperse crowds. He said some parts of the Capitol have been cleared.

Todd added that the crowd is thinning out "a little bit" but it's by their own volition "they're not leaving because police are pushing them out."

Riot police have since moved in.

5:20 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

GOP Sen. Rand Paul: "I cannot vote to overturn the verdict of the states"

From CNN's Clare Foran 

Sen. Rand Paul asks questions during a hearing to discuss election security and the 2020 election process on December 16, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Sen. Rand Paul asks questions during a hearing to discuss election security and the 2020 election process on December 16, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images

GOP Sen. Rand Paul has tweeted out a thread that he describes as "the speech I'll be giving today from an undisclosed location" on the now-halted Electoral College vote count.

In it, he comes out against voting to overturn election results. Paul had previously not said where he stood on the issue. 

In the lengthy thread, Paul says in part,

"The vote today is not a protest; the vote today is literally to overturn the election! Voting to overturn state-certified elections would be the opposite of what states’ rights Republicans have always advocated for. This would doom the electoral college forever. It was never intended by our founders that Congress have the power to overturn state-certified elections. My oath to the Constitution doesn’t allow me to disobey the law. I cannot vote to overturn the verdict of the states."

You can read the full thread here.

5:07 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Van Jones on rioters: "Is this the end of something or the beginning?"

From CNN's Leinz Vales

As rioters continue to occupy the grounds of the US Capitol building, CNN's Van Jones cautions Americans to take a step back and analyze this moment in history and asked, "Is this the end of something or the beginning of something?"

"Is this the death throes of something ugly in our country, desperate, about to go away and then the vision that Biden talked about is going to rise up or is this the birth pains of a worse disorder? Jones asked. "That's where we are right now tonight. And I think the country has got to make a decision."

Jones, a former adviser in the Obama administration, went on to call out the election fraud claims that sparked pro-Trump rioters to occupy the Capitol building.

"I don't want to be partisan," Jones said. "I understand some of these people, their social media feed is only showing them example of example of anecdotes of vote threat, statistical, magical thinking that says that the election was impossible, so they've been bombarded with that. And because they've been bombarded with that, they're angry. Fine. You have a right to be angry. You don't have a right to insurrection. You don't have a right to sedition. You don't have a right to break into buildings and to hurt police officers. There has to be a line."

Watch:

5:08 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

White House staffers asked Trump to take action on riots

From CNN's Jim Acosta

Rioters at the Capitol in Washington D.C on Jan. 6, 2021.
Rioters at the Capitol in Washington D.C on Jan. 6, 2021. Julio Cortez/AP

A White House official told CNN that aides to the President went to Trump to have him make the order to deploy the National Guard to the US Capitol.

The official said aides also asked that Trump record a video calling for an end to the siege on the Hill. 

In other words, these were not decisions Trump made on his own. Aides went to him to get him to do it.

A source familiar with the situation said White House staffers are "horrified" by the violence at the Capitol and are worried there will be more trouble on the streets tonight.