WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — One person was shot inside the U.S. Capitol, as dozens of President Donald Trump’s supporters breached security perimeters and entered the U.S. Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden’s presidential win.
The Senate recessed its debate over an objection to the results of the Electoral College after protesters forced police to lock down the building.
Reporters were told to stay in the Senate’s press gallery as the doors were locked.
Congress began the joint session at 1 p.m. ET to count and confirm the Electoral College vote won by Biden, while thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump rallied near the White House.
Trump’s Republican allies in the House and Senate had planned to object to the election results, which the president continues to challenge. The effort will likely fail and be defeated by bipartisan majorities in Congress who are prepared to accept the election results.
Despite Trump’s repeated claims of voter fraud, election officials and his own former attorney general have said there were no problems on a scale that would change the outcome. All the states have certified their results as fair and accurate, by Republican and Democratic officials alike.
NewsNation was livestreaming the joint session in the player above, but it’s currently adjourned. Tune into NewsNation Wednesday night at 8/7c for a full report.
NewsNation will live update this blog as votes are tallied. All times local.
3:50 p.m. – The White House says National Guard troops along with other federal protective services are en route to the Capitol to help end a violent occupation by President Donald Trump’s supporters who are seeking to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election.
Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that “At President @realDonaldTrump’s direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services.”
She added, “We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful.”
3:43 p.m. – Vice President Mike Pence tweeted said the “violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now.”
3:38 p.m. – NewsNation’s Brian Entin showed an update of the scene outside of the U.S. Capitol.
3:36 p.m. – The Department of Homeland Security is sending additional federal agents to the U.S. Capitol to help quell violence from supporters of President Donald Trump who are protesting Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
A spokesperson told The Associated Press on Wednesday that officers from the Federal Protective Service and U.S. Secret Service agents are being sent to the scene. He says they were requested to assist by U.S. Capitol Police.
3:30 p.m. – NewsNation Washington D.C. Correspondent Joe Khalil describes situation as he shelters-in-place in basement of Capitol.
3:28 p.m. – One person has been shot at the U.S. Capitol as dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building and violently clashed with police.
That’s according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity amid a chaotic situation.
The exact circumstances surrounding the shooting were unclear. The person said the victim had been taken to a hospital. Their condition was not known.
3:20 p.m. – Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol.
3:15 p.m. – Trump encourages supporters occupying US Capitol to ‘remain peaceful,’ but doesn’t call for them to disperse.
2:51 p.m. – Lawmakers are being evacuated from the U.S. Capitol after protesters breached security and entered the building.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senators were led out, escorted by staff and police on Wednesday afternoon. Members of the House were also being evacuated. Both chambers had been debating the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.
The skirmishes came shortly after President Donald Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud.
Protesters could be seen marching through the Capitol’s stately Statuary Hall shouting and waving Trump banners and American flags.
Some House lawmakers tweeted they were sheltering in place in their offices.
2:48 p.m. – Members of Congress inside House chamber told by police to put on gas masks after tear gas dispersed in Capitol Rotunda.
2:40 p.m. – President Donald Trump tweeted about what was happening.
2:39 p.m. – D.C. Mayor issues citywide curfew beginning at 6 p.m.
2:30 p.m. – Cameras show video of protesters inside the U.S. Capitol. The building is on lockdown.
2:15 p.m. – Senate recesses Electoral College debate after protesters force lockdown of Capitol.
1:46 p.m. – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke out against his fellow Republicans who were challenging Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, saying it could do great harm to America.
At the start of debate on certifying the Electoral College result, McConnell said: “We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of election on steroids.” McConnell added, “The voters, courts, states, they’ve all spoken. If we overrule them it would damage our republic forever.”
1:17 p.m. – Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday said he did not believe he had the authority to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally, but welcomed efforts by U.S. lawmakers to raise objections about alleged “voting irregularities.”
Pence, under pressure by defeated President Donald Trump to hold up certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 election, told U.S. lawmakers in a letter that he would do his duty to ensure concerns about the election received a “fair and open hearing.”
“When disputes concerning a presidential election arise, under Federal Law, it is the people’s representatives who review the evidence and resolve disputes through a democratic process,” said Pence, who is presiding over a joint session of Congress to certify the election results.
1:15 p.m. – Republicans from the House and Senate have objected to the counting of Arizona’s electoral vote, forcing votes in both chambers on Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
The objection was made by Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar and was signed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Both are Republicans. The two chambers now have two hours to debate the challenge.
Biden won the state by more than 10,000 votes. In all, eight lawsuits challenging Biden’s Arizona win have failed, in part over a lack of evidence.
The state’s Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of an election challenge, because the plaintiff lacked the right to bring the suit in the first place. The woman wasn’t a registered voter when she sued.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has said there were no irregularities with the vote in her state.
1:15 p.m. – President Donald Trump is taking aim at Republican members of Congress who have refused to join him in his effort to contest the results of the November election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump on Wednesday told a large crowd of supporters gathered on the Ellipse that they needed to vote these Republicans out of office by putting up challengers in primary elections to push them out.
“If they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight,” Trump said, calling the Republicans who aren’t siding with him “weak.”
Earlier, he named and praised Republicans who have pledged to contest the electoral votes of some states when they come up for approval on Capitol Hill.
His supporters, who braved chilly, windy conditions, chanted “Fight for Trump!”
1:10 p.m. – Congress has begun a joint session to count and confirm the Electoral College vote won by Joe Biden.
With supporters of President Donald Trump gathering around the Capitol, more than a dozen Republican senators and more than 100 Republican House members have said they will object to the count from as many as six battleground states. They are echoing Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread fraud.
Biden won the Electoral College 306-232. He is set to be inaugurated Jan. 20.
Their efforts are almost certain to fail as many Republicans have said they will oppose the objections. But the session is expected to last into the night on Wednesday as the House and Senate must consider each objection separately and vote on whether to sustain it.
It comes months after the the Nov. 3 election, two weeks before the inauguration’s traditional peaceful transfer of power and against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the session. He has no power to overturn the results, despite pressure from Trump to do so.
While other vice presidents, including Al Gore and Richard Nixon, also presided over their own defeats, Pence supports those Republican lawmakers mounting challenges to the 2020 outcome.
“I hope that our great vice president comes through for us,” Trump said at a rally in Georgia this week. “He’s a great guy. Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.”
It’s not the first time lawmakers have challenged results. Democrats did in 2017 and 2005. But the intensity of Trump’s challenge is like nothing in modern times, and an outpouring of current and elected GOP officials warn the showdown is sowing distrust in government and eroding Americans’ faith in the election process.
Under the rules of the joint session, any objection to a state’s electoral tally needs to be submitted in writing by at least one member of the House and one of the Senate to be considered. Each objection will force two hours of deliberations in the House and Senate, ensuring a long day.
House Republican lawmakers are signing on to objections to the electoral votes in six states — Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Arizona is expected to be the first disputed as the state tallies are announced in alphabetical order, and Cruz has said he will join House Republicans in objecting to that state.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who’s among those leading the challenges, has said he will object to the election results from Pennsylvania, almost ensuring a second two-hour debate despite resistance from the state’s Republican senator, Pat Toomey, who said the tally of Biden’s win is accurate.
Democrats have the majority in the House and the Republican-led Senate is divided over the issue. Bipartisan majorities in both chambers are expected to soundly reject the objections.
The group led by Cruz is vowing to object unless Congress agreed to form a commission to investigate the election, but that seems unlikely.
President-elect Biden has kept quiet, not addressing the matter when he campaigned in Georgia Monday for the Senate runoff.
Biden later spoke broadly about Democrats’ “opposition friends” realizing that “power flows from the people.”
“Politicians cannot assert, take or seize power. Power is granted by the American people alone,” he said.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Reporting by AP’s Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick; Kevin Freking contributed from Dalton, Ga., Bill Barrow from Atlanta.