Congress finalizes Biden's win after riot disrupts Capitol

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Melissa Mahtani, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 5:15 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021
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11:24 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Riot at Capitol building was "beyond awful," former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake says

From CNN's Leinz Vales

Former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.
Former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake. Source: CNN

Former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said that Wednesday's riot at the US Capitol building was "beyond awful." 

"It was the most awful feeling I have had a long time," Flake told CNN's Don Lemon. "I was on Capitol Hill during 9/11. I was on the baseball field being shot at. I can tell you, neither of those experiences would have been like this."

Flake, a CNN political commentator, who endorsed Joe Biden for president, went on to call on Congress to move certify the election results without objection. 

"Congress is doing exactly what they should be doing right now, certifying the results and then waiting for January 20th," Flake said. "I hope that Congress will take up some of the nominees that the President-elect has put forward and hold those hearings so that we can hit the ground running on January 20th." 

Watch the moment:

11:16 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Two GOP senators explain why they changed their minds in objecting to the electoral votes

From CNN’s Manu and Ali Zaslav

Rep. Cynthia Lummis and Sen. Mike Braun.
Rep. Cynthia Lummis and Sen. Mike Braun. Getty Images

Two GOP senators who had initially planned to object to the Electoral College vote counts with Sen. Ted Cruz explained why they didn't, pinning the blame on the riots that took place at the US Capitol today.

Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana said: "I didn't feel comfortable with today's events even though I do believe that election integrity is still a valid issue. Many of us can still pursue it. ... When today's events unfolded, I could not dignify it even by withholding something I objected to."

Asked why she didn't vote to throw out Arizona's election results, freshman Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis pointed to "the activities of the day."

But both Braun and Lummis declined to blame Trump for the violence and destruction in the Capitol.

The other senators who had initially signed onto Cruz's effort but voted to reject the objection to Arizona: Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Steve Daines of Montana and James Lankford of Oklahoma.

GOP Sen. Mike Rounds, who didn't sign on to Cruz's effort and opposed the efforts to throw out the results, said of Trump's rhetoric: “He most certainly did not help.”

The South Dakota senator added: “If anything, he urged in a very emotional situation very inappropriate action by people that appear to be his supporters."

11:13 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

GOP congresswoman: "I'm disgusted and I'm angry... this needs to stop"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Rep. Nancy Mace said the last few days quickly transformed from the greatest in her political career to the worst. 

Mace said her excitement from being sworn in on January 3, as the first Republican woman to be elected to Congress from South Carolina, quickly turned to horror as pro-Trump mob descended on the US Capitol.

"This has been the best and worst week of my life as an elected official," she told CNN's Don Lemon this evening.

 "My worst fears came true today, this is a sad day for our nation," she continued. "I'm heartbroken, I'm disgusted and I'm angry and enough is enough."

"This needs to stop," she added. "It needs to stop right now tonight. We need to end it."

Watch the interview:

11:01 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

US Secret Service bringing in every available agent to White House and Naval Observatory

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The US Secret Service is significantly ramping up coverage and bringing additional agents from the region to the White House, Naval Observatory, and USSS headquarters after today’s unrest, a source familiar with the situation said.

A USSS official also told CNN that Secret Service was the first federal agency deployed when the US Capitol Police asked for assistance from local and federal law enforcement.

The agents on detail for Vice President Mike Pence and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were present today and worked in their roles focused on securing their protectees, but when Capitol Police put out the call for assistance, USSS sent additional uniformed division and special agents to Capitol Hill to assist. They were subsequently joined by other law enforcement agencies, the official said.

11:00 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

DC mayor extends public emergency for 15 days in response to Capitol riots

From CNN's Adrienne Winston

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced she is extending the public emergency to 15 days, as a result of rioters overtaking the US Capitol building earlier today. This will take the emergency declaration until the day after President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

The mayor says that the people who stormed the Capitol, “sought to disrupt the Congressional proceedings relating to the acceptance of electoral college votes.”

“Persons are dissatisfied with judicial rulings and the findings of State Boards of Elections, and some persons can be expected to continue their violent protests through the inauguration.”
10:53 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Fact check: GOP lawmaker falsely claims poll watchers were denied access to observe ballots

From CNN's Tara Subramaniam

In this image from video, Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks as the House reconvenes to debate the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Arizona, after protesters stormed into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, January 6.
In this image from video, Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks as the House reconvenes to debate the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Arizona, after protesters stormed into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, January 6. House TV/AP

On the floor of the House, New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican, echoed President Trump’s claims that poll watchers were banned from counting locations or otherwise prevented from observing the count and denied the access they legally deserved.  

According to Zeldin, “There were poll watchers denied the ability to closely observe ballot counting operation.” 

Facts First: There have been no reports of systematic irregularities with poll watchers anywhere in the US. There is no evidence supporting claims that poll watchers were shut out of the process.  

You can read more about what happened with poll watchers in specific states here.

10:35 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

House debate on Arizona objection has ended and voting has started

From CNN’s Kristin Wilson

The House has finished debating the objection to Arizona’s electoral votes.

Rep. Jim Jordan asked for a recorded vote and members are voting now.

The objection already failed in the Senate.

10:40 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

These six GOP senators voted to sustain the objection against Arizona's electoral votes

From CNN’s Manu Raju

The objection raised against Arizona's electoral votes failed overwhelmingly in the Senate, 93-6.

Here are the six Republican senators who voted to sustain the objection:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz
  • Sen. Josh Hawley
  • Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith
  • Sen. Roger Marshall
  • Sen. John Kennedy 
  • Sen. Tommy Tuberville
10:26 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Here's why voting on objections takes longer in the House 

From CNN's Clare Foran

Members of the House listen in the House Chamber after they reconvened for arguments over the objection of certifying Arizona’s Electoral College votes in November’s election, at the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday, January 6.
Members of the House listen in the House Chamber after they reconvened for arguments over the objection of certifying Arizona’s Electoral College votes in November’s election, at the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday, January 6. Greg Nash/Pool/AP

Safety precautions put in place to protect members of Congress amid the pandemic are likely to add even more time to the Electoral College vote count process tonight.

The whole process was already delayed today after riots at the Capitol interrupted the counting and certification of elector votes.

Since the start of the pandemic, the House and Senate have both attempted to limit the number of members congregating on the floor during votes and have done so in a way that means voting now takes longer than it did previously in both chambers. 

As a result, it is expected that each challenge could add roughly three to four hours to the proceedings this afternoon.  

In the House, voting now typically proceeds by groups of members as opposed to allowing all members to vote at one time. In the Senate, votes are now usually held open longer in an effort to discourage crowding. Even with those precautions, though, there are frequently still crowds of members on the floor when votes happen.  

In a memo obtained by CNN, official guidance from the Sergeant At Arms and the House physician informed members that they should only physically go to the joint session of Congress this afternoon if they are going to speak — another effort to try to cut down on crowding on the floor.