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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3:35 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Trump rails against "weak Republicans" moments before Congress meets to certify electoral results

From CNN's Betsy Klein 

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump cast his ire at “weak Republicans” less than an hour before Congress begins the formal process of certifying the election for Joe Biden. 

He told the crowd of supporters he would be using the term “weak Republicans” going forward.

“There's so many weak Republicans and we have great ones, Jim Jordan. These guys they're out there, the House guys are fighting, but it's incredible. Many of the Republicans, I helped them get in, I helped them get elected. I helped Mitch get elected. I helped, I could name 24 of them, let's say, I won't bore you with it. And then all of a sudden you have something like this and it's like, oh, gee, maybe I'll talk to the President sometime later,” Trump said. 

“Now it’s amazing: the weak Republicans, the pathetic Republicans, and that’s what happens,” he said.

The Republican party, Trump said, is “constantly fighting with their hands tied behind their back… and we’re going to have to fight much harder, and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t that will be a sad day for our country.”

Trump went on to thank the “warriors” who will contest the election results today.

Remember: While some GOP lawmakers are expected to object to some states' electoral results, those objections will not change the results of the election. Every Democrat and some Republicans will reject the challenges in both chambers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Additionally, Despite Trump's allegations about the 2020 election, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and there is no evidence that electors from the electoral college were fraudulently chosen, as all states have certified their elections.

Trump also suggested he could join the protesters walking from the Ellipse to Capitol Hill. He named the dozen Senators who will object — “Senators who have stepped up, we want to thank them," he said.

“We’re gonna walk down to the Capitol. And we're gonna cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we're probably not going to be cheering, so much for some of them, because you'll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong,” Trump said. 

12:35 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Biden will nominate Merrick Garland as attorney general     

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President-elect Joe Biden has decided to nominate Judge Merrick Garland as attorney general, people familiar with the matter tell CNN. It's a long-awaited decision that was moved toward completion Wednesday.

The announcement of the attorney general, along with other senior leaders of the Justice Department, is expected to be made as soon as Thursday as Biden moves closer to filling the remaining seats in his Cabinet before assuming power on Jan. 20.

While Garland has been a top contender for weeks, concerns about the vacancy his selection would create on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia raised alarm bells among Biden and many advisers who believed Senate Republicans would block any nomination to that seat. But with Democrats set to control the Senate after winning two Georgia races, those concerns were allayed.

"Judge Garland will be viewed in a whole new light now," a top Biden ally tells CNN.

12:25 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Here's what to expect when it comes to objections to the Electoral College vote

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

While Republicans in both chambers plan a series of objections that will lead to debate and a vote, sources tell CNN it’s also likely Republicans will attempt to raise objections that line up with some of the fringe theories pushed by President Trump – something that could result in a few fleeting moments of chaos.

Those objections, in whatever form they are made, will be summarily dismissed by Vice President Pence as out of order. The format in which they’ll be presented is still fluid, but it won’t matter. There’s a way to object, as laid out in clear detail by statute, during this process and any effort outside of those guardrails will not be considered.

Among the possible issues that could be raised:

  • That there are competing slates of electors that Congress must consider. There have been zero competing slates submitted to Congress, making the issue null and void.
  • Another possibility is the idea that Pence can operate unilaterally to reject slates of electors. But the precedent some fringe lawyers have pushed – based on actions from Thomas Jefferson and Richard Nixon – do not match up with any kind of unilateral authority for Pence. That would also be rejected.
  • There also remains the possibility that members move for adjournment on the grounds it would allow for a 10 day period for an election integrity commission to do an audit. This, too, is simply not possible based on the statute.

All of these possibilities remain fluid, sources say, but it’s something to watch from House Republicans. And again, they will all fail before they can't even be considered.

12:04 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Another Republican senator says he will object to three states today

From CNN's Manu Raju

Stefani Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images
Stefani Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kansas, said he will object to three states today: Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia. 

"That's absolutely correct," he told CNN. Other Republican senators have also announced plans to object to those three states

Marshall also said he would not blame President Trump for Georgia, saying everyone deserves blame. 

"I'm not going to blame anybody, you know, I'm an ex-athlete and I've learned it's a team sport," he said. 

11:55 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Trump's behavior toward Pence is "horrific," senior advisor says

From CNN's Jim Acosta

A longtime senior Trump adviser says the President's behavior has become "horrific" as he continues to pressure Vice President Mike Pence and Republican lawmakers to overturn the election results – something they cannot do. 

The adviser said multiple aides and associates have explained to Trump on numerous occasions that Pence cannot toss out the results from Nov. 3. 

"He knows what the legal procedures are now," the adviser said.

But this source, who has been involved in the election challenge discussions, said Trump is brushing off any counsel to move on and accept defeat and is instead taking his cues from a motley crew of suspect legal advisers, including television personalities at the conservative news outlet, OANN.

This adviser said aides to the president have been mortified by his behavior toward Pence, describing it as "horrific."

11:54 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Senate Democrats are happy to let Republicans battle amongst themselves today

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Senate Democrats say they are prepared, should they need to engage during debates over Republican objections to specific states, but they’re more than happy to let Republicans battle amongst themselves.

"If they want to tear each other apart, we’re more than happy to be spectators," one Democratic senator told CNN. "We’re ready, but the reality is we all know how this ends, it’s just a matter of how long it takes to get there. And that’s up to them, not us."

Another Democratic senator cautioned that this is the Senate after all, and Senators like to talk, so there’s no guarantee Democrats will sit back for the majority of these debates. But buoyant after the Georgia runoffs, and keenly aware of the rupture inside the Senate GOP conference right now, the caucus is in much more of a "wait-and-see mode" as the start of the joint session looms.

"This is probably the first time I can say I’m looking forward to hearing what Mitch has to say," the senator said of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will be the first speaker and has made clear to his colleagues he’s personally deeply opposed to the objections. "After that we’ll see what happens."

11:14 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Another Republican senator plans to object to Arizona's results

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Republican Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said Wednesday he plans to object to Arizona Electoral College results, and “we can go from there.” 

He said there’s a possibility he could object to more states, but wouldn’t provide additional details. 

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had already planned to object to Arizona's electoral votes, two sources familiar with the matter have told CNN.

So far there are at least three states, including Arizona, that some senators have signaled said they plan to object to.

Rep. Jim Jordan, a leader of the effort to overturn the elections today, says that he only knows of three Senate objections but that he hopes there are senators who will join House conservatives for all six.

Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Georgia are for certain.

10:49 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

SOON: President Trump expected to speak to crowd of supporters

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump is scheduled to speak at 11:00 a.m. ET to a crowd of supporters who have gathered in Washington.

The group is gathered just blocks from the White House.

"President Trump will work from early in the morning until late in the evening. He will make many calls and have many meetings. The President will depart for the Ellipse at 10:50AM to deliver remarks at a Save America Rally," his public schedule said today.

Trump may "lash out" at Vice President Mike Pence during the speech, according to a source. Trump has continued to call on Pence to reject the Electoral College vote — something he does not have power to do.

"I think he will lash out pretty quickly" at Pence, the source said of Trump's speech.

10:33 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

The exact number of objections remains unclear, but these are the states we're watching

Congress is meeting in a joint session today to count and certify the Electoral College votes for president and vice president.

While Republicans in both chambers plan to object to the count and delay the inevitable certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win — a victory that was affirmed by the Electoral College last month — those objections will not change the results of the election.

While the exact number of objections that will be raised is still unclear, here's what we know so far:

  • Arizona: Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz plans to object to Arizona's Electoral College results, two sources familiar with the matter have told CNN. Since the states' Electoral College votes are counted in alphabetical order, Cruz's objection to Arizona — the third state on the alphabetical list — is likely to be the first debated.
  • Georgia: Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia is signaling she intends to object to Biden's win in her state.
  • Pennsylvania: Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has said he plans to object to the results in Pennsylvania.

Remember: There could be objections to more states beyond these three. "We're doing three but we are hoping for six," said Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, who is leading the charge on the House. The other three would be Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.

He added they are still having "lots of conversations with senators."

How this process will work: The objections will extend the normally ceremonial process of counting Electoral College votes into Wednesday evening and possibly beyond. For each state where a House member and senator object, the two chambers will separately recess and debate the matter for up to two hours, followed by a vote on whether to accept or reject the objection.