WASHINGTON — Congress confirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s victory early Thursday, overwhelmingly repudiating a drive by President Donald Trump to overturn his defeat after it culminated in a mob of loyalists storming and occupying the Capitol in a shocking display of violence that shook the core of American democracy.
There was no parallel in modern American history, as insurgents acting with the president’s encouragement vandalized Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, smashing windows, looting art and briefly taking control of the Senate chamber, where they took turns posing for photographs with fists up on the dais where Vice President Mike Pence had just been presiding. Outside the building, they erected a gallows, punctured the tires of a police SUV and left a note on its windshield saying, “PELOSI IS SATAN.”
The attack by rebels carrying pro-Trump paraphernalia stopped the electoral counting for several hours and sent lawmakers and Pence fleeing. But by the time the Senate reconvened in a reclaimed Capitol, one of the nation’s most polarizing moments had yielded an unexpected moment of solidarity. Republicans and Democrats locked arms to denounce the violence and express their determination to carry out what they called a constitutionally sacrosanct function, refusing by resounding bipartisan majorities to deliver Trump the election reversal he demanded.
Pence, breaking with the president he has loyally served, made Biden’s victory official just after 3:40 a.m. in Washington, declaring that Biden had received 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 and would be inaugurated the 46th president on Jan. 20.
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win,” Pence said earlier. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”
In a statement just before 4 a.m. Thursday, the president finally conceded, saying, “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.”
Still, the process opened bitter wounds within the Republican Party. While some Republicans who had planned to join the effort to overturn Biden’s victory agreed to drop their challenges after the Capitol siege, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri pressed forward, keeping both chambers in session well past midnight.
An objection to Arizona’s results lodged by Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama just before the violence broke out in the Capitol failed overwhelmingly in the Senate, 6-93. The House turned it back on a vote of 121-303, but more than half of that chamber’s Republicans supported the effort to overturn the election results.
A challenge to Pennsylvania’s results backed by Hawley ended in lopsided defeats, as well. Skipping debate altogether, senators voted to reject it 7-92. The House moved more slowly but eventually voted 138-282 to do the same.