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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7:38 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Pence has returned to the Senate building

From CNN's Pamela Brown

Vice President Mike Pence has returned to the Senate, his press secretary tweeted Wednesday evening.

"Vice President Mike Pence has returned to the Senate. He never left the Capitol. @VP was in regular contact w/ House & Senate leadership, Cap Police, DOJ, & DoD to facilitate efforts to secure the Capitol & reconvene Congress. And now we will finish the People’s business," his press secretary said.

The US Secret Service wanted Pence to leave the Capitol complex, and everything was in place, but Pence wanted to remain on site, a source familiar said.

The source says Pence's Secret Service detail remained with him through the entire ordeal. 

A separate source said regarding the resumption of tonight's joint session of Congress, “he’s going to do his duty.” 

7:44 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Congressman who was inside Capitol during riot says extremism in the US is the true problem

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Democratic Rep. Adam Smith said he quickly realized that extremism in the US is the true threat, as he learned the US Capitol building, which he was in, was being stormed by a violent pro-Trump mob.

"What was going through my mind is… extremism is an enormous problem in this country, and Donald Trump is just throwing matches all over the powder kegs," he said, speaking with CNN's Erin Burnett this evening. 

"The rest of the country that enabled him is what we really need to work to fix," continued Smith, who is the the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. "You need to understand the dangers of extremism. We have gotten to the point we don't understand rule of law matters."

"It isn't that you get your way all the time and if you don't get your way you have to fight until you do." he continued. "…You play by the rules and when it's over, you accept the outcome and you govern this country."

"We need to push back on the extremism," he concluded.

But Smith also reserved harsh words for President Trump.

"Donald Trump, is a narcissistic psychopath, let's just be clear about that," said the congressman. "He stumbled his way into the presidency. What he believes from a policy standpoint is irrelevant. He is an egotist, cares about himself, period."

7:40 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Melania Trump's chief of staff submits resignation in wake of violent protests

From CNN's Kate Bennett

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham listens to U.S. President Donald Trump talk to reporters before he boards Marine One and departing the White House November 08, 2019 in Washington.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham listens to U.S. President Donald Trump talk to reporters before he boards Marine One and departing the White House November 08, 2019 in Washington. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Stephanie Grisham, the former White House communications director and press secretary and current chief of staff for first lady Melania Trump, submitted her resignation Wednesday afternoon, a White House official tells CNN.

Grisham’s resignation is effective immediately. The official says Grisham’s decision was motivated by today’s violent protests carried out by supporters of President Trump.

Grisham was one of the longest-serving Trump administration officials, having begun her tenure working for then-candidate Donald Trump in 2015 as a press wrangler on the campaign trail.

Grisham entered the White House as deputy press secretary under Sean Spicer, but in March 2017, she was identified by Melania Trump as someone who could be helpful to her scant East Wing staff. Trump hired Grisham away from her husband’s West Wing to become her East Wing communications director. Grisham quickly became the first lady’s most prominent staffer, acting as defender, enforcer and, often, protector. 

CNN's Kate Bennett reports:

7:32 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Here's what we know so far about tonight's Electoral College vote count

From CNN's Daniella Diaz 

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise outlined how he expects the Electoral College vote count will move forward tonight in a message to GOP members.

The House will resume its debate on the objection to Arizona's electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden, according to Scalise. Republicans were debating the objection before rioters stormed the US Capitol and prompted the proceedings to halt.

Here's more from Scalise:

"Members are advised that as soon as the House Sergeant at Arms confirms that the Capitol Building is safe and secure, the House is expected to reconvene and resume debate on the objection to the state of Arizona’s electoral votes. 
After debate, the House will vote on the objection. Following the vote, the Joint Session will reconvene.
Members and staff should remain on the Capitol complex until they are notified by the United States Capitol Police.
 Members are advised that votes are expected in the House tonight, and they could occur late into the evening. Further information about the exact timing of votes will be announced as soon as it becomes available." 

7:18 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Twitter locks Trump's account for 12 hours

From CNN's Brian Fung

Twitter said Wednesday it has locked President Trump’s account for 12 hours, and warned for the first time that it may suspend him permanently.

The temporary lock reflects Trump’s violation of the Twitter rules, the company said.

“We have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity Policy,” Twitter said. “This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.”

Twitter added that “future violations… will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account.”

The announcement marks a major escalation by Twitter against Trump’s account and responds to calls by civil rights groups for Trump to be banned from the platform.

7:21 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

House and Senate chambers are being cleaned for session tonight

From CNN's Manu Raju and Kristin Wilson

Papers and other materials litter the chamber after House were evacuated as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, in Washington.
Papers and other materials litter the chamber after House were evacuated as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, in Washington. Andrew Harnick/AP

The House and Senate chambers are being cleaned so the full Senate and House can resume proceedings as soon as the 8 p.m. hour, Hill sources said.

It’s unclear if the House and Senate plan to go through the night or how long the proceedings will go.

In a letter to colleagues this evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said leaders of Congress have decided to resume the joint session tonight once the Capitol is "cleared for use."

The House clerk is now returning to the chamber, according to pool reports. 

6:57 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Republican congresswoman says she will reverse position on challenging election results

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington state, will reverse her position on challenging the presidential election results.

“We must have a peaceful transfer of power. The only reason for my objection was to give voice to the concern that governors and courts unilaterally changed election procedures without the will of the people and outside of the legislative process. I have been consistent in my belief that Americans should utilize the constitutional tools and legal processes available to seek answers to their questions about the 2020 election. What we have seen today is unlawful and unacceptable," McMorris Rodgers said in a statement today.

McMorris Rodgers added: "I have decided I will vote to uphold the Electoral College results and I encourage Donald Trump to condemn and put an end to this madness.”

Read the statement:

6:55 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Twitter removes Trump's tweets

From CNN's Brian Fung

Twitter on Wednesday removed several of President Trump’s tweets reacting to the violence at the US Capitol.

Among the tweets that were removed was a video that Trump posted Wednesday afternoon addressing his supporters. Also deleted was Trump’s tweet saying Vice President Mike Pence lacked the “courage” to do what was necessary.

The removal comes after Facebook and YouTube removed Trump’s video to supporters, and amid calls by the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP for Trump’s social media accounts to be suspended outright.

6:52 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Democratic lawmaker recounts his experience comforting colleague while US Capitol was under siege

The last time Rep. Jason Crow, a Democrat from Colorado, experienced the level of violence seen at the US Capitol today was when he was serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, he told CNN this afternoon.

Crow was photographed comforting Rep. Susan Wild, a fellow Democrat from Pennsylvania, while rioters entered the Capitol.

"That was a very, very difficult time. I haven't been in a situation like that since frankly I was in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army ranger. We were actually trapped in the House chamber at that time. A mob had descended and broke through the security cordon of the Capitol. They had already evacuated the leadership and the members who were on the floor. But those of us who were up in the gallery watching the debate had been trapped because the mob closed off the stairwells and had surrounded the chamber," Crow said.

CNN's Dana Bash spoke with Rep. Jason Crow. Watch: