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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1:09 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Vice President Pence gavels in the joint session

From CNN's Zach Wolf

CNN
CNN

The joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote results and affirm President-elect Joe Biden's win has begun.

What comes next: Four lawmakers designated as "tellers" — two from the House and two from the Senate — will read off the certificates of vote from each state. They'll do it alphabetically starting with Alabama.

The process usually takes about an hour, but this year it could go many hours because some Republicans plan to object to certain states — a step that will force up to two hours of debate for each state.

All of those objections will be voted on, and are expected to fail.

1:05 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Pence breaks with Trump moments before Electoral College certification. Read his statement.

Vice President Mike Pence just released a statement on his role at today's joint session of congress, where lawmakers will certify the electoral results of the presidential election.

President Trump has pressured Vice President Mike Pence and Republican lawmakers to overturn the election results – something they cannot do. 

Here's his full statement:

12:54 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Harris will vote, but not planning to speak during today’s debates

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be on hand today as Congress counts the Electoral College votes in a joint session.

In her role as senator of California, Harris will be voting today, but she is not planning to speak during today’s proceedings, a source familiar with the plans said. 

Harris was slated to attend a classified Senate intelligence committee hearing this morning, before turning to the electoral business later in the day. 

“The American people did their job and today she will be there to do hers,” a Harris Senate aide said.

12:53 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Happening now: The Senate is convening ahead of Electoral College count

From CNN's Ted Barrett

SenateTV
SenateTV

The Senate is convening as lawmakers get ready to count and certify the Electoral College votes for president and vice president today in a joint session.

Republicans in both chambers plan to object to the count in at least three states.

Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Chuck Schumer won’t speak until debate over the first objection starts.  

Senators who plan to attend the joint session will gather on the floor over the need few minutes and then join a procession led Vice President Pence to march to the House.  

12:52 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Fact check: Who won the election

From CNN's Daniel Dale

Trump peppered his rally speech with his usual series of wildly false claims about the presidential election he lost – claiming that "we won it by a landslide,” that the election was “so corrupt,” that unnamed people “rigged” the process, and that Joe Biden got “80 million computer votes" rather than legitimate votes. 

Facts First: That is all false. Trump lost a free and fair election to Biden – 306-232 in the Electoral College.

Biden earned more than 81 million legitimate votes, exceeding Trump’s total by more than 7 million. There is no evidence the election was rigged in any way.

12:45 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

What questions do you have about the Electoral College vote?

Congress is just about to meet in a special joint session to certify the votes of the Electoral College.

The process is largely ceremonial, but lawmakers will have the ability to raise objections about the vote — just like some Democrats did in 2017. But while those objections were dismissed easily in 2017, Republican senators could, if they choose, drag the process out this year, and force the House and Senate to vote on individual points.

CNN's Zach Wolf is answering your questions on the process and what to expect. Click on the link below to submit your questions.

Watch live:

12:45 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Merrick Garland will "bring credibility back to the Justice Department," Democratic senator says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Hannah McKay/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Hannah McKay/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Amy Klobuchar welcomed President-elect Joe Biden's expected decision to nominate Judge Merrick Garland as attorney general. Garland's appointment will "bring credibility back to the Justice Department," she said.

The Democratic senator, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said she expects Garland to have a smooth confirmation process.

"I think that there are many of my colleagues — despite what happened to him in the Supreme Court process — that have showed respect to him in the past on both sides of the aisle, and that will help him to see a smooth confirmation," she told CNN. 

She added:

"He's someone that knows the law. He's someone that — to me, one of the things that's really important — will bring credibility back to the justice department and improve morale, get people to see it as a lawyer's job, which it is. Your job is your fidelity to the Constitution and to the law, not being the personal lawyer of the president. I think a judge gets that."

12:49 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

GOP senator says he will not oppose results and "embolden politicians in the future to appoint our presidents"

From CNN's Manu Raju

Susan Walsh/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Susan Walsh/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, said in a statement Wednesday that he will not oppose the Electoral College vote certification in Congress.

“I will not oppose the certification of the Electoral College votes, and I will not embolden politicians in the future to appoint our presidents instead of having the American people duly elect them,” his statement said.

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

Trump rails against "weak Republicans" moments before Congress meets to certify electoral results

From CNN's Betsy Klein 

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump cast his ire at “weak Republicans” less than an hour before Congress begins the formal process of certifying the election for Joe Biden. 

He told the crowd of supporters he would be using the term “weak Republicans” going forward.

“There's so many weak Republicans and we have great ones, Jim Jordan. These guys they're out there, the House guys are fighting, but it's incredible. Many of the Republicans, I helped them get in, I helped them get elected. I helped Mitch get elected. I helped, I could name 24 of them, let's say, I won't bore you with it. And then all of a sudden you have something like this and it's like, oh, gee, maybe I'll talk to the President sometime later,” Trump said. 

“Now it’s amazing: the weak Republicans, the pathetic Republicans, and that’s what happens,” he said.

The Republican party, Trump said, is “constantly fighting with their hands tied behind their back… and we’re going to have to fight much harder, and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t that will be a sad day for our country.”

Trump went on to thank the “warriors” who will contest the election results today.

Remember: While some GOP lawmakers are expected to object to some states' electoral results, those objections 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.

Additionally, Despite Trump's allegations about the 2020 election, 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.

Trump also suggested he could join the protesters walking from the Ellipse to Capitol Hill. He named the dozen Senators who will object — “Senators who have stepped up, we want to thank them," he said.

“We’re gonna walk down to the Capitol. And we're gonna cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we're probably not going to be cheering, so much for some of them, because you'll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong,” Trump said.