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

Pelosi: "We have decided we should proceed tonight"

From Phil Mattingly and Clare Foran 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sanitizes the gavel after Vice President Mike Pence walked off the dais during a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 Electoral College results on January 6, in Washington, DC.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sanitizes the gavel after Vice President Mike Pence walked off the dais during a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 Electoral College results on January 6, in Washington, DC. Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images

In a letter to colleagues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced leaders of Congress have decided to resume the joint session tonight to certify President-elect Joe Biden's win once the Capitol is "cleared for use."

"In consultation with Leader Hoyer and Whip Clyburn and after calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Vice President, we have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use. Leader Hoyer will be sending out more guidance later today," she said.
6:48 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Crowds dwindle at US Capitol following enactment of curfew

The crowds at the US Capitol have started to disperse following the enforcement of a 6 p.m. ET curfew enacted in Washington, DC.

Large crowds of people were seen walking away from the Capitol as of 6:25 p.m. ET.

CNN's Alex Marquardt reports:

Ahead of the 6 p.m ET curfew, CNN reported that police were successfully clearing crowds from the lawn on the West side of the US Capitol, moving them back toward the Capitol reflecting pool.

The CNN team there didn't see any signs of violence, although people in the crowd were yelling at the officers even as they moved back as instructed.

6:28 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Sen. Mitt Romney: "What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President"

From CNN’s Nicky Robertson

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah watches as a joint session of the House and Senate convenes to confirm the Electoral College votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, January 6.
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah watches as a joint session of the House and Senate convenes to confirm the Electoral College votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, January 6. Erin Schaff/The New York Times/AP

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who has condemned GOP attempts to subvert the will of the voters in the presidential election, released a statement Wednesday night containing remarks he would have said in the US Senate before the insurrection in the US Capitol.

“We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States. Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy. They will be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. That will be their legacy,” Romney said.

Romney went on to say, “I urge my colleagues to move forward with completing the electoral count, to refrain from further objections, and to unanimously affirm the legitimacy of the presidential election.”

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

Senate GOP objectors privately meeting to strategize plans

From CNN's Ali Zaslav, Manu Raju, Ted Barrett and Sarah Fortinsky

US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, left, speaks with colleague Josh Hawley of Missouri during a joint session of Congress to count the electoral votes for US President at the US Capitol in Washington on January 6.
US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, left, speaks with colleague Josh Hawley of Missouri during a joint session of Congress to count the electoral votes for US President at the US Capitol in Washington on January 6. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

The main Senate objectors are privately meeting to strategize about whether they plan to press ahead with their objections. The discussions come as leaders are planning to continue with the House and Senate session sometime tonight, but pressure is building on the senators to limit their objections and show unity after the raucous and violent display in the Capitol today.

Sens. Mike Braun of Indiana, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and a few others were seen meeting in a separate room together outside of the bigger room where all senators are being held.

Braun was asked by reporters if they've reached any resolution, he replied, "Not yet."

When CNN's Manu Raju asked if his GOP colleagues should drop objections and just finish Electoral College certification tonight, GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska replied, "I think the way to get this done, the quickest way to show that our constitutional order is intact is, would be a good path forward." 

Senators are indicating they hope to return to session Wednesday night and finish the Electoral College ratification.

“These thugs aren’t running us off,” said Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. 

Manchin said he thinks it will happen in the Capitol but didn’t know for sure.

Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly echoed Manchin’s remark, saying “I expect that to be done.” 

GOP Sen. Roger Wicker said “We’re gonna go forward.” 

“The goal would be to expedite the objections, to have the debate make it so people who have to still make their points,” Wicker said. But he reiterated he’s not involved in those negotiations. As CNN noted, until the leadership says so, it’s still uncertain. 

When asked if it would be done tonight, Wicker replied, “We’re gonna try to do it on the date it is called for.” 

The Mississippi Republican also said the mood in the room where the senators are being held is “concerned” and “not upbeat.” 

Moments ago, the Sergeant-at-Arms announced that the Capitol is now secure. 

There was minimal damage apparent in the Capitol, debris on the floor, but no major damage. The floor was chalky with what we were told from one officer was smoke bombs. The smell of what appeared to be smoke bombs filled the Capitol hallways. 

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

State Department tells diplomats overseas to suspend making social media posts

From CNN's Nicole Gaouette, Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler

US diplomats overseas have been told to suspend all social media posts given the mob assault on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, three diplomatic sources told CNN, a step normally only taken during a terrorist attack and major natural disaster. 

The Under Secretary for Public Affairs sent a note to US diplomatic posts overseas ordering them to “pause any planned context from your social media accounts” and remove any scheduled content set for release on Facebook, Hootsuite, and Twitter until further notice.  

The message, a copy of which was provided to CNN, also said that planned social media from flagship State Department accounts are also being frozen.

That message was followed by a second note to staff that said the freeze was happening at the direction of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s office and should be implemented in all bureaus. A social media freeze of this sort is commonly ordered by department leadership when there is a terrorist attack or an earthquake and they do not want US missions posting about off-topic issues, a strong possibility since many offices schedule pre-planned posts. 

Despite the directive, Pompeo himself has been “conspicuously silent” as rioters stormed Capitol Hill, one diplomat pointed out.  

The situation has left US embassies – which are receiving multiple requests for comment – with nothing they can say about the riots, two US diplomats said. In some instances they have relied on the tweets of Vice President Pence saying that the violence must stop, diplomats said. 

6:17 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

White House aide: "The blame lies squarely with the President"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

A current Trump White House aide tells CNN that many of his colleagues worked remotely on Wednesday ahead of anticipated protests and road closures in Washington, and like former colleagues, is casting blame on President Trump.

“Never did we think this would happen," the aide said, adding that it is "indefensible."

"The blame lies squarely with the President,” the aide said.

The aide said he does not plan to go back to work tomorrow and hasn’t decided whether to resign or stick out the next two weeks until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“I haven’t made a decision. Problem is, if I resign, it looks disingenuous — you were willing to stick around for four years, but this is what did you in?” the aide said.

6:30 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Trump defends the storming of the Capitol

From CNN's Allie Malloy

President Trump is now defending the actions of his supporters who stormed and vandalized the Capitol.

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away," he tweeted.

Trump concluded the tweet, rather stunningly, with “Remember this day forever!” There is no proof of widespread election fraud and the election was not stolen from Trump. 

At the end of the tweet, Trump also called on the rioters to “go home with love & in peace.”

CNN's Wolf Blitzer discusses the tweet with presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Watch:

 

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

Woman shot inside Capitol pronounced dead, DC police confirm

From CNN’s Christina Carrega

The woman who was shot inside US Capitol during riots Wednesday afternoon was pronounced dead at an area hospital, a spokesperson with the Metropolitan Police Department confirmed to CNN.

“Yes, the adult female that was shot inside of the Capitol was pronounced at an area hospital,” said spokesperson Dustin Sternbeck with the Metropolitan Police Department

Sternbeck said, “additional details will be forthcoming as this remains an active MPD investigation.”

CNN's Pamela Brown reports:

6:13 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

President George W. Bush condemns riots: "This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic"

Former President George W. Bush has released a statement condemning the storming of the US Capitol building this afternoon, describing it as "sickening" and "heartbreaking." 

While Bush does not mention President Trump by name, there is a clear reference in his statement to both Trump and other Republican officials when the former president said:

"I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement."

CNN's John King reads Bush's statement: