The US Congress has formally certified Joe Biden as the next President on Thursday, hours after a mob of loyalists spurred by President Trump stormed and occupied the Capitol, disrupting the final electoral count in a shocking display of violence that shook the core of American democracy.
Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives successfully beat back Republican efforts to deny Biden the electoral votes needed to win, prompting loud cheers when the certification was announced.
The affirmation of Biden’s 306-232 victory over Trump in November essentially closes the door on the unparalleled and deeply controversial effort by Trump and his loyalists to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The President immediately released a statement pledging an “orderly transition” but suggested he would remain in frontline politics, amid speculation that he may run again in 2024.
“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,” he said.
“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!”
The certification came hours after a mob breached the US Capitol and sent lawmakers scrambling for safety. They were able to return hours later, shaken but determined to complete the task.
Egged on in an extraordinary rally across town by an aggrieved Trump, a flag-waving mob had broken down barricades outside the Capitol and swarmed inside, rampaging through offices and onto the usually solemn legislative floors.
Security forces fired tear gas in a four-hour operation to clear the Capitol. Police said that one woman, reportedly a female Trump partisan from southern California, was shot and killed and that three other people died in the area in circumstances that were unclear.
One Trump backer in jeans and a baseball cap was pictured propping a leg up on House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi’s desk, as throngs climbed onto risers set up for Biden’s inauguration.
Another held a banner that read: “We the people will bring DC to its knees/We have the power.”
Biden called the violence an “insurrection” and demanded that Trump immediately goes on national television to tell the rioters to stand down.
“Our democracy’s under unprecedented assault,” Biden said in his home state of Delaware.
“This is not dissent. It’s a disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now.”
Trump soon afterwards released a video in which he called on the mob to leave but repeated his unfounded claims of election fraud.
“We have to have peace. So go home. We love you — you’re very special,” he said.
In a significant new crackdown, social media companies pulled down the video on charges it aggravated violence and Twitter temporarily suspended his account, warning the tweet-loving tycoon of a permanent ban if he does not agree to rules on civic integrity.