The joint session of the House and Senate convened Wednesday to count the Electoral College votes, and within 15 minutes the first objection was logged: Republicans objected to election tally in Arizona to lengthy applause in the chamber, forcing votes in the House and Senate on Joe Biden's victory in the state. The chambers broke off to separately debate the objection, but both chambers abruptly went into recess when pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol building. More:
- The AP reports the Arizona objection was made by Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar and signed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The Arizona Republic reports Gosar said his objection had the signatures of 60 of his colleagues. As for Biden's win in the state, he took it by more than 10,000 votes. Eight lawsuits challenging his win there have failed.
- During the Arizona debate in the Senate, Mitch McConnell issued a rebuke of the Republican challenge. CNN quotes him as saying, "This will be the most important vote I've ever cast. ... If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. We'd never see our country accept an election again. Every four years would be a scramble for power. At any cost."
- In his argument, which he said more generally applied to all the states that would be challenged Wednesday, Sen. Cruz push for Congress to delay action for a 10-day period during which an emergency electoral commission would be able to conduct audits and investigations related to the selected states. NPR reports Cruz noted there was precedent, which is true: Amid accusations of fraud, a commission of five members of each chamber and five Supreme Court justices did this following the 1876 election that pitted Rutherford B. Hayes against Samuel Tilden. NPR, however, explains there are "crucial differences" between the two situations; read about them here.
- Roughly an hour before the much-awaited joint session of Congress began, President Trump began addressing a Washington, DC, rally in his favor, and put forth the assertion he has long made: He won. The Washington Post has select remarks: "We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn't happen. You don't concede when there's theft involved," a reference to fraudulent vote counts. "We won this election, and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election."
- As for the certification of Joe Biden's win, Trump said this, "I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. All Vice President Pence has to do is recertify, and we become president and you are the happiest people."
- That apparently won't come to pass. In a statement issued just as he was to begin presiding over the session, the AP reports Pence said he does not have the authority to discard electoral votes. He said it is "my considered judgement that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not."
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