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.
The outcome had never been in doubt, but had been interrupted by rioters – spurred on by Trump – who 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.
The bloody chaos, however, came after the police force that protects the legislative complex was overrun by the Trump supporters in what law enforcement officials called a catastrophic failure to prepare.
While events such as a presidential inauguration involve detailed security plans by numerous security agencies, far less planning went into protecting the joint session of Congress that convened on Wednesday to ratify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
That lapse came despite glaring warning signs of potential violence by hard-line supporters of Trump, who are inflamed by Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election.
And security initially was handled almost entirely alone by the U.S. Capitol Police, a 2,000-member force under the control of Congress and dedicated to protecting the 126-acre Capitol Grounds.
For reasons that remained unclear as of early Thursday, other arms of the U.S. federal government’s vast security apparatus did not arrive in force for hours as rioters besieged the seat of Congress.
The Capitol is a short walk from where Trump in a speech railed against the election just before the riot began, calling the vote an “egregious assault on our democracy” and urging his supporters to “walk down to the Capitol” in a “Save America March.”