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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8:04 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

DC attorney general calls on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

In this December 9, 2019 file photo, US Vice President Mike Pence listens to US President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room in Washington.
In this December 9, 2019 file photo, US Vice President Mike Pence listens to US President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room in Washington. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Attorney General for the District of Columbia Karl Racine called on Vice President Mike Pence to organize the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office. 

"Whether you like Vice President Pence or not, the fact is he is more fit for office... we need a commander-in-chief that will fulfill his constitutional responsibilities," he told CNN tonight.

"I would ask the vice president, please go the next step," continued Racine. "Do your constitutional duty. Protect America, stand up for democracy, and invoke the 25th Amendment.

"That requires Vice President Pence to move and get a majority of the Cabinet or majority of the Congress to immediately remove the President because he so clearly is not fit for office," said Racine, earlier in the conversation.

7:57 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

McConnell and Schumer to speak soon in Capitol as joint session reconvenes 

From CNN’s Ted Barrett and Kristin Wilson

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is back in his office and both he and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said they will make statements on the Senate floor when it comes back into session.

Some senators have already returned to the floor.

Per McConnell's press secretary Doug Andres, he will deliver remarks on the floor at 8 p.m. ET.

Neither leader would say if there is an agreement to expedite the ballot objections.  

There are many heavily armed Department of Homeland Security Police who have taken up positions around the Senate chamber on the second floor.

7:52 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Former defense secretary says assault on US Capitol "was fomented by Mr. Trump"

From CNN's Barbara Starr

In this April 23, 2017 file photos, James Mattis listens to a question during a news conference at Camp Lemonnier on April 23, 2017 in Ambouli, Djibouti.
In this April 23, 2017 file photos, James Mattis listens to a question during a news conference at Camp Lemonnier on April 23, 2017 in Ambouli, Djibouti. Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump’s first Secretary of Defense James Mattis called the riots in Washington, DC, today a "violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule" and said it "was fomented by Mr. Trump.” 

Mattis said Trump has used “the Presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo-political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice.”

7:46 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Senators have left secure location and are headed back to the Capitol

From CNN's Manu Raju, Ali Main and Sarah Fortinsky

A big group of senators from both sides of the political aisle left the secure spaces of the Capitol grounds, and Sen. John Hoeven told CNN they are working “on an expedited process” to consider objections to state vote counts. It hasn’t been finalized yet, he said.

CNN asked Sen. Mitt Romney what his message is to the country, and he said, “Come together with a new president.”

Asked about the next steps, Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham said they are to “finish the constitutional work of confirming Biden and Harris.”

Sen. Josh Hawley would not answer when asked if he would still object to Pennsylvania's electoral votes, and Sen. Roger Marshall would not answer if he still planned to object to Georgia and Pennsylvania's presidential election votes.

7:46 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

President Clinton: "The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers"

From CNN’s Dan Merica

Former US President Bill Clinton arrives to attend a church service for former French President Jacques Chirac at the Saint-Sulpice church in Paris on September 30, 2019.
Former US President Bill Clinton arrives to attend a church service for former French President Jacques Chirac at the Saint-Sulpice church in Paris on September 30, 2019. Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton denounced the violence at the US Capitol, saying in a statement “Today we faced an unprecedented assault on our Capitol, our Constitution, and our country.”

"The assault was fueled by more than four years of poison politics spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in our system, and pitting Americans against one another. The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost," Clinton said.

He went on to say that the peaceful transfer of power must be completed.

"The election was free, the count was fair, the result is final. We must complete the peaceful transfer of power our Constitution mandates. 
I have always believed that America is made up of good, decent people. I still do. If that’s who we really are, we must reject today’s violence, turn the page, and move forward together—honoring our Constitution, remaining committed to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people," Clinton said.

7:38 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Pence has returned to the Senate building

From CNN's Pamela Brown

Vice President Mike Pence has returned to the Senate, his press secretary tweeted Wednesday evening.

"Vice President Mike Pence has returned to the Senate. He never left the Capitol. @VP was in regular contact w/ House & Senate leadership, Cap Police, DOJ, & DoD to facilitate efforts to secure the Capitol & reconvene Congress. And now we will finish the People’s business," his press secretary said.

The US Secret Service wanted Pence to leave the Capitol complex, and everything was in place, but Pence wanted to remain on site, a source familiar said.

The source says Pence's Secret Service detail remained with him through the entire ordeal. 

A separate source said regarding the resumption of tonight's joint session of Congress, “he’s going to do his duty.” 

7:44 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Congressman who was inside Capitol during riot says extremism in the US is the true problem

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Democratic Rep. Adam Smith said he quickly realized that extremism in the US is the true threat, as he learned the US Capitol building, which he was in, was being stormed by a violent pro-Trump mob.

"What was going through my mind is… extremism is an enormous problem in this country, and Donald Trump is just throwing matches all over the powder kegs," he said, speaking with CNN's Erin Burnett this evening. 

"The rest of the country that enabled him is what we really need to work to fix," continued Smith, who is the the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. "You need to understand the dangers of extremism. We have gotten to the point we don't understand rule of law matters."

"It isn't that you get your way all the time and if you don't get your way you have to fight until you do." he continued. "…You play by the rules and when it's over, you accept the outcome and you govern this country."

"We need to push back on the extremism," he concluded.

But Smith also reserved harsh words for President Trump.

"Donald Trump, is a narcissistic psychopath, let's just be clear about that," said the congressman. "He stumbled his way into the presidency. What he believes from a policy standpoint is irrelevant. He is an egotist, cares about himself, period."

7:40 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Melania Trump's chief of staff submits resignation in wake of violent protests

From CNN's Kate Bennett

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham listens to U.S. President Donald Trump talk to reporters before he boards Marine One and departing the White House November 08, 2019 in Washington.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham listens to U.S. President Donald Trump talk to reporters before he boards Marine One and departing the White House November 08, 2019 in Washington. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Stephanie Grisham, the former White House communications director and press secretary and current chief of staff for first lady Melania Trump, submitted her resignation Wednesday afternoon, a White House official tells CNN.

Grisham’s resignation is effective immediately. The official says Grisham’s decision was motivated by today’s violent protests carried out by supporters of President Trump.

Grisham was one of the longest-serving Trump administration officials, having begun her tenure working for then-candidate Donald Trump in 2015 as a press wrangler on the campaign trail.

Grisham entered the White House as deputy press secretary under Sean Spicer, but in March 2017, she was identified by Melania Trump as someone who could be helpful to her scant East Wing staff. Trump hired Grisham away from her husband’s West Wing to become her East Wing communications director. Grisham quickly became the first lady’s most prominent staffer, acting as defender, enforcer and, often, protector. 

CNN's Kate Bennett reports:

7:32 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Here's what we know so far about tonight's Electoral College vote count

From CNN's Daniella Diaz 

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise outlined how he expects the Electoral College vote count will move forward tonight in a message to GOP members.

The House will resume its debate on the objection to Arizona's electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden, according to Scalise. Republicans were debating the objection before rioters stormed the US Capitol and prompted the proceedings to halt.

Here's more from Scalise:

"Members are advised that as soon as the House Sergeant at Arms confirms that the Capitol Building is safe and secure, the House is expected to reconvene and resume debate on the objection to the state of Arizona’s electoral votes. 
After debate, the House will vote on the objection. Following the vote, the Joint Session will reconvene.
Members and staff should remain on the Capitol complex until they are notified by the United States Capitol Police.
 Members are advised that votes are expected in the House tonight, and they could occur late into the evening. Further information about the exact timing of votes will be announced as soon as it becomes available."