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US Congress formally certifies Joe Biden’s election win

WASHINGTON: United States Congress has formally certified Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory, hours after hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol Building.

The White House released a statement from Trump in which he pledged an “orderly transition” when Biden is sworn into office on January 20. Trump repeated his false claim that he won the November election and seemingly encouraged his followers to swarm the Capitol.

Congress resumed its work certifying Biden’s Electoral College win late in the evening after the chaotic scenes on Capitol Hill. After a debate stretching into the early hours of Thursday, the Senate and the House of Representatives rejected two objections to the tally and certified the final Electoral College vote with Biden receiving 306 votes and Trump 232 votes.

Vice President Mike Pence, in declaring the final vote totals, said this “shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons elected president and vice president of the United States.” Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will take office alongside Biden.

The outcome of the certification proceedings had never been in doubt, but was interrupted by rioters who forced their way past metal security barricades, broke windows and scaled walls to fight their way into the Capitol.

Police said four people died during the chaos – one from gunshot wounds and three from medical emergencies – and 52 people were arrested. Some besieged the House chamber while lawmakers were inside and security officers piled furniture against the chamber’s door and drew their pistols before helping lawmakers and others escape.

The assault on the Capitol was the culmination of months of divisive and escalating rhetoric around the 3rd November election, with Trump repeatedly making false claims that the vote was rigged and urging his supporters to help him overturn his loss.

The chaos unfolded after Trump addressed thousands of supporters near the White House and told them to march on the Capitol to express their anger at lawmakers. He told supporters to pressure their elected officials to reject the results.

Some prominent Republicans in Congress put the blame for the day’s violence squarely on his shoulders. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, called the invasion a “failed insurrection” and referred to those who had stormed the Capitol as “unhinged.”

Trump had tried to get Pence and other Republicans to do what they could to block the certification of the election – the final step before Biden takes office – even though they lacked the constitutional authority to do so.

After Pence made clear he would not accede to Trump’s wishes, the president ripped his longtime ally on Twitter even as the Senate, with the vice president presiding, was under siege.

The shock of the assault seemed to soften the resolve of some Republicans who had supported Trump’s efforts to convince Americans of his baseless claims of fraud.

Several Republican senators who had said they would mount objections to the electoral vote count changed their minds when they returned to the chamber.

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