Early Thursday morning, Vice President Mike Pence announced what everyone already knew, or at least should have known: President-elect Joe Biden won the Electoral College, the 2020 election and will be the next president of the United States.
Biden is going to be inaugurated on Jan. 20. The election was never close. Biden won the popular vote by seven million votes and carried far more states than he needed for an Electoral College victory. More than 60 courts had dismissed challenges filed by President Donald Trump’s campaign. Anyone who has ever read the Constitution and could do math understood that Republicans did not have the votes to carry a single objection through the U.S. House of Representatives, even if every Republican had voted in favor of the objection, and several Republican Congress members made it clear that they were not supporting any objection effort.
Republican U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Shelley Moore Capito, John Thune, and others made it crystal clear that they were not going to go along with any objection to any state’s Electoral College vote certification so passing an objection through Congress was doomed to fail.
It was all a pointless political circus stoked on by the president, some members of Congress and many in the right-wing media for ratings and their own political purposes. Despite the futility of protesting the certification of the election, an estimated 400,000 Trump loyalists, at the urging of Trump went to Washington to protest.
After Trump addressed the crowd in a disinformation-laden speech alleging that the election was “stolen,” 40,000 to 45,000 of these protestors broke off from the protest rally and marched as an angry mob on the U.S. Capitol Building.
The day ended the only way the day could have ended: with Biden being officially declared the winner of the Electoral College.
Unfortunately, along the way, a woman from San Diego, Ashli Babbitt, who served 14 years of her life in the Air Force, was shot dead by Capitol Police while breaking through a window of the U.S. Capitol Building. Three more people died of medical emergencies.
Over 50 Capitol Police officers were injured defending the members of the 117th Congress of the United States from the angry mob of Trump loyalists. Senators and representatives had to flee their chambers while members of the mob were literally breaking down the doors, forcing Congress to go into lockdown while it halted its proceedings.
Rioters damaged the Capitol Building and took selfies from the chambers and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Rioters briefly occupied both House and Senate chambers and much of the Capitol Building. The peaceful transition of power that has been a hallmark of 244 years of the American political experiment for the first time ever was anything but peaceful.
“Today marks a dark day in America’s history,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “The words of the president of the United States matter. Donald Trump’s serial lies and inflammatory rhetoric incited the armed insurgents who stormed the U.S. Capitol today. He encouraged this attempted coup and the violence that ensued is a result of his recklessness. After four years of his consistent efforts to discredit our democratic institutions, President Trump and his allies have brought us to this sad place in our nation’s history.”
“I am grateful for the many prayers, calls, texts, and emails that my staff and I continue to receive concerning our safety and well-being,” Sewell continued. “Thankfully, we are safe now.”
Sewell said she was in the gallery of the House chamber watching the election certification proceedings when the security breach occurred.
“As I was lying on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives huddled with other members of Congress, struggling to fit on a tear gas mask and fearing the thunderous sound of impending violence, I trembled and wept not only for our safety but for the devastating threat to our democracy,” she said.
After the overrun Capitol Police were reinforced by hundreds of Washington Metropolitan Police Department officers, the Secret Service, other federal law enforcement agencies, the National Guard and law enforcement officers from Virginia and Maryland, the Capitol Building was finally cleared of rioters, marauders and insurrectionists, and Congress returned to its business and certified the 2020 election.
“Our democracy is under unprecedented assault,” Sewell said. “These domestic terrorists do not represent America, our democracy, or the values of our nation. As elected officials, we must set aside our political differences and work together for the common good, remembering that our loyalty is not to a political party or to an individual but to the Constitution and the oath that we swore to protect and defend our democracy.“
The Congress will not be deterred or intimidated by this “insurrection and violence,” Sewell said before Biden’s victory was certified.
“We will carry out our constitutional duty to certify the Electoral College results tonight and, on January 20, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the President and Vice President of the United States,” Sewell said.
Shortly after Pence declared Biden the winner, Trump, who had defiantly told supporters at a rally that he would “never concede,” said in a statement that “there will be an orderly transition” on Jan. 20.
Update: Capitol Police Office Brian Sicknick died of his injuries sustained in the fighting.