Congress has certified Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next president and vice-president of the United States.
The electoral votes were approved after both the Senate and the House of Representatives rejected objections to the votes in the states of Pennsylvania and Arizona.
The normally procedural session of Congress was disrupted on January 6 when supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building. The session resumed and continued through the night after the building was cleared.
The announcement was made by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, one of the four “tellers” appointed by the House and Senate to count the Electoral College votes.
She said: “The report we make is that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the president and vice president according to the ballots that have been given to us.”
VP Mike Pence, who as president of the Senate oversaw the certification process, confirmed to Congress that, of the 538 Electoral College votes cast, Joe Biden and Kamal Harris received 306 and Donald Trump and Mike Pence received 232 – mirroring the results of November’s election.
He said: “The announcement of the state of the vote by the President of the Senate shall be deemed as sufficient declaration of the persons elected President and Vice President of the United States, each for the term beginning on the 20th day of January, 2021 and shall be entered together with the list of the votes on the journals of the Senate and the House of Representatives.”
President Trump has just released a statement committing to “an orderly transition on January 20th” but repeating his unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud.
“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,” the president said, in a comment published on his spokesperson’s Twitter account.
Meanwhile, Twitter has temporarily blocked Donald Trump from using his own account.
“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.
More than 60 legal cases by Trump’s campaign team challenging the November result have failed.
Supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, alongside far-right pro-Trump groups, were planning the rally outside Congress for weeks.
QAnon is a baseless conspiracy theory that claims President Trump and a secret team of military intelligence officers have been waging a war against Satan-worshipping pedophiles in the Democratic party.
In addition, supporters of the “Stop the Steal” election movement, Proud Boys and other groups have been encouraging their followers to attend the march.
So-called “patriot caravans” and other initiatives were organized online to help transport activists to Washington DC in anticipation of today’s protest.
Many of those attending the rally had consumed viral conspiracy theories and misleading narratives about the presidential election on major online platforms, convinced that the vote was stolen from Donald Trump.
However, election officials have described the vote as the most secure in history.
Discussion on Gab and Parler, social media platforms popular with far-right groups banned from Facebook and Twitter, featured threats that anything other than Congress overturning the outcome would lead to “patriots” having to rescue their country from traitors, communists, Satanists and pedophiles.
Vice-presidential contenders Kamala Harris and Mike Pence have clashed over the coronavirus pandemic in their only debate ahead of next month’s election.
Democrat Kamala Harris called President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic “the greatest failure of any presidential administration” in history.
Republican VP Mike Pence said the Democratic Party’s pandemic plan amounted to “plagiarism”.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads President Trump with 26 days to go to the vote.
Opinion polls indicate President Trump is trailing by single digits in a handful of battleground states that will decide who wins.
Vice-presidents have tie-breaking power in the Senate and are required to step in if a president is unable to perform their duties. Their day-to-day responsibilities vary with each administration, but they typically serve as top advisers and some take on specific policy portfolios.
October 7 meeting was a civil debate between two smooth communicators compared to last week’s belligerent showdown between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, which degenerated into insults and name-calling.
Mike Pence did not interrupt as much as the president last week, but when he did, Kamala Harris interjected: “Mr. Vice-President, I’m speaking, I’m speaking.”
The viral moment on October 7 was a fly landing on Mike Pence’s head and remaining there for some two minutes.
The 90-minute TV debate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City was marked by disagreements over the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic.
The 55-year-old California senator accused VP Mike Pence and the president of deliberately misleading Americans about the lethality of coronavirus.
“They knew, and they covered it up,” she said, adding that they had “forfeited their right to re-election”.
Mike Pence accused the Biden-Harris campaign of copying the White House’s pandemic strategy, alluding to a blunder that ended Joe Biden’s 1987 run for the presidency when he plagiarized a speech by then-British Labour leader Neil Kinnock.
Kamala Harris was asked by the moderator whether she would take an approved Covid-19 vaccine distributed ahead of the election.
She said she would not take a jab touted by President Trump without the say-so of medical professionals.
Mike Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force, retorted: “The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine if the vaccine emerges during the Trump administration I think is unconscionable.”
The Plexiglas barriers separating the two debaters seated 12ft apart were a vivid reminder of the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans.
President Trump – who is himself recovering from the virus – returned to the White House on October 5 after three nights in hospital, with his opinion poll numbers drooping.
On October 7, the president declared that catching the disease was a “blessing from God” that exposed to him to experimental treatments he vowed would become free for all Americans.
The virus, meanwhile, has spread through the West Wing of the White House and infected figures inside the president’s re-election campaign.
ABC News reported that an internal government memo, dated October 7, said “34 White House staffers and other contacts” had been infected in recent days.
Kamala Harris – the child of immigrants from India and Jamaica – pledged that she and Joe Biden would revive a country fractured by the coronavirus pandemic and racial tension.
“There is no vaccine for racism,” she said.
“We’ve got to do the work.”
She continued: “Donald Trump’s failure has cost lives and livelihoods.”
“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons,” Kamala Harris added.
President Trump swiftly hit back, tweeting about Kamala Harris’ previous attack on Joe Biden over his record on race issues, while they were both rivals for the Democratic White House nomination.
He tweeted: “BUT DIDN’T SHE CALL HIM A RACIST??? DIDN’T SHE SAY HE WAS INCOMPETENT???”
The moment came during a live TV debate last year, though Kamala Harris prefaced those remarks by telling Joe Biden: “I do not believe you are a racist.”
Also on August 19, former President Barack Obama launched his most withering direct attack yet on Donald Trump, accusing his Republican successor of treating the White House like “one more reality show”.
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