Hours after hundreds of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a harrowing assault on American democracy, a shaken Congress on Thursday formally certified Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.
Late on Wednesday houses of Congress resumed their work on certifying Biden's Electoral College win, with debate stretching into the early hours of Thursday. After debate, the House and Senate rejected two objections to the tally and certified the final Electoral College vote with Biden receiving 306 votes and Trump 232 votes.
President Trump has issued a statement to CNN saying that the decision "represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history."
He also said that there will be an "orderly transition".
"Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th," Trump said in a statement.
"I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again," he added.
In the gravest assault on the symbol of American democracy in more than 200 years, rioters 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 of Representatives chamber while lawmakers were inside, banging on its doors and forcing suspension of the certification debate. Security officers piled furniture against the chamber’s door and drew their pistols before helping lawmakers and others escape.
Hours later, both houses of Congress resumed their work on certifying Biden’s Electoral College win, with debate stretching into the early hours of Thursday. It quickly became clear that objections from pro-Trump Republican lawmakers to Biden’s victory in battleground states would be rejected overwhelmingly, including by most Republicans.
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today - you did not win,” Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the session, said as it resumed. “Let’s get back to work,” he said, drawing applause.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has been suspended from Twitter and Facebook after tweeting to supporters who attacked the US Capitol
The assault on the Capitol was the culmination of months of divisive and escalating rhetoric around the Nov. 3 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 - who before the election refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost - addressed thousands of supporters near the White House and told them to march on the Capitol to express their anger at the voting process.
He told his supporters to pressure their elected officials to reject the results, urging them “to fight.”
Trump came under intensive fire from some prominent Republicans in Congress, who put the blame for the day’s violence squarely on his shoulders.
“There is no question that the President formed the mob, the President incited the mob, the President addressed the mob. He lit the flame,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney said on Twitter.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a leading conservative from Arkansas, called on Trump to accept his election loss and “quit misleading the American people and repudiate mob violence.”
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who had remained silent while Trump has sought to overturn the election result, called the invasion a “failed insurrection” and promised that “we will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation.”
“We are back in our posts. We will discharge our duty under the Constitution, and for our nation. And we are going to do it tonight,” he said.
The shock of the assault on the Capitol seemed to soften the resolve of some Republicans who had supported Trump’s efforts to convince Americans of his baseless claims of fraud.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress, rejected an effort by his fellow Republicans to object to election results in hopes of setting up a commission to investigate Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud.
“All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough,” Graham said on the floor of the Senate. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and the vice president of the United States on Jan. 20.”
The Senate rejected by a 93-6 vote Republican objections to the certification of Biden’s victory in the battleground state of Arizona, ensuring their defeat. The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, also rejected the move by a 303-121 vote.
The Senate also rejected an objection to the certification in Pennsylvania on a 92-7 vote. The House was still debating the objection.