US Senate Reconvenes for Electoral College Vote Count with Heavily Armed Guards After Capitol Siege

US Senate Reconvenes for Electoral College Vote Count with Heavily Armed Guards After Capitol Siege

By Staff, Agencies

American lawmakers gathered to continue certifying Electoral College votes for the 2020 race, reconvening at the Capitol hours after a massive group of demonstrators stormed the building, prompting an evacuation of officials.

The House and Senate made another attempt to certify votes around 8pm on Wednesday night, resuming the process following an eruption of violence in Washington, DC, which saw hundreds of Trump supporters storm the Capitol, occupying the chambers for several hours before they were cleared out by law enforcement.

While a number of GOP lawmakers had planned to object to the vote certification, alleging irregularities in the presidential race, asked about the matter before Congress regrouped, Republican Senator Rand Paul (Kentucky) said he did not expect any serious objections the second time around.

“In consultation with [House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer] and [House Whip Jim 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,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement ahead of the second effort to certify.

Security forces clad in heavy body armor were stationed near the Senate floor on Wednesday night, with piles of gear seen strewn across the building’s hallways. House Democrat Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries earlier reported that the Capitol had been cleared, and that lawmakers would return “when it is safe.”

Staffers were allowed back inside through underground tunnels, seen in a photo shared on Twitter by NBC correspondent Garrett Haake.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [R-Kentucky] addressed the day’s events when the body reconvened.

“The United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation. We are back at our post, we will discharge our duty under the Constitution and for our nation – and we’re gonna do it tonight,” he said.

One woman was fatally shot as rioters attempted to breach the Senate chamber, captured in disturbing footage circulating online. She was seen leaving the building on a stretcher and later died of her injuries, according to law enforcement sources.

A 6pm curfew was ordered across the nation’s capital amid the chaos, as well as in nearby Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, where Governor Ralph Northam has also declared a state of emergency. DC’s National Guard unit was “fully activated” to assist local police.

Legislators had only just begun the certification process when the violence erupted, part of the formal procedure to transfer power to President-elect Joe Biden. President Trump and his supporters maintain the 2020 race was plagued by extensive voter fraud and had repeatedly called on Republican lawmakers, as well as Vice President Mike Pence, to challenge the Electoral College count. Pence, however, signaled earlier on Wednesday that he would not do so, arguing he lacked the authority to invalidate votes. His refusal, however, did little to calm the swarm of Trump supporters gathered outside the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

US Congress in Turmoil as Violent Trump Supporters Breach Building

US Congress in Turmoil as Violent Trump Supporters Breach Building

By Staff, Agencies

Violent supporters of US President Donald Trump have breached the Capitol in Washington, as lawmakers met to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s poll win.

In dramatic scenes, demonstrators swarmed the building as Congress members were escorted out by police.

A joint session of Congress had been counting and confirming Electoral College votes but has been suspended and forced into recess.

There are reports of guns drawn in the building and at least one person shot.

A woman was reported to be in a critical condition after receiving a neck injury.

There has been an armed confrontation at the doors of the House of Representatives. Tear gas has also been used.

Members of Congress have been told to evacuate the building or remain where they are. One congresswoman tweeted that she was staying in her office.

Trump urged people to remain peaceful and respect law enforcement officials.

Vice-President Mike Pence called on the rioters to leave the Capitol immediately, saying the violence and destruction “must stop now”.

Trump’s spokeswoman, Kayleigh McEnany, tweeted that the National Guard was being deployed.

Rioters were seen marching through the building chanting “We want Trump” and one was photographed in the Senate president’s chair.

A citywide curfew has been declared from 18:00 to 06:00 [23:00 to 11:00 GMT] by Washington DC’s mayor.

There are also reports of protests at state legislatures in Kansas and Georgia.

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