Congress resumes following violent protests in Washington

• The certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory is resuming following violent protests in the US Capitol building by Donald Trump supporters.
• A woman has died of a gunshot wound and police officers have been injured.
• A 12-hour curfew has kicked in across Washington DC.
• Democrat Jon Ossoff has won his Senate runoff race in Georgia against David Perdue, giving Democrats effective control of the Senate and allowing Biden to pursue his agenda.
• Twitter has begun removing Trump tweets and have locked the President out of his account for 12 hours.

Former presidents have savaged Donald Trump for inciting today’s deadly rioting at Capitol Hill, as the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory resumes.

Bill Clinton pleaded for a peaceful transfer of power to the new administration.

He said the “unprecedented assault on our Capitol, our Constitution, and our country” was fuelled by “more than four years of poison politics spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in our system, and pitting Americans against one another”.

He added: “The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost.”

Former President Barack Obama implored Republicans to “choose reality and take the first steps toward extinguishing the flames”.

“History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation. But we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise.

“I’ve been heartened to see many members of the President’s party speak up forcefully today. Their voices add to the examples of Republican state and local election officials in states like Georgia who’ve refused to be intimidated and have discharged their duties honorably. We need more leaders like these — right now and in the days, weeks, and months ahead as President-Elect Biden works to restore a common purpose to our politics. It’s up to all of us as Americans, regardless of party, to support him in that goal.”

The joint session of Congress resumed in the US Capitol building at 8 pm ET (2pm NZ time).

Congress only counted 12 votes before the session was interrupted by protesters in an eerie scene that featured official warnings directing people to duck under their seats for cover and put on gas masks after tear gas was used and police barricaded the House of Representatives.

Lawmakers paused their vote on certifying Biden’s Electoral College win and evacuated the chamber. Protestors continued trying to break down the door of the House.

Vice President Mike Pence reconvened the joint session, condemning the violence.

“We defended our Capitol today. We’ll always be grateful. The men and women who stayed at their post to defend this historic place.

“Those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins. This is still the people’s house. As we reconvene in this chamber, the world will again witness the resilience and strength of our democracy.”

Before the siege, Pence and the Members of the Senate were admitted into the House Chamber to meet with the House of Representatives in a Joint Session to certify the Electoral College ballot count.

Vice President Mike Pence has returned to the Senate, his press secretary said in a Tweet.

“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.”

A source told CNN the US Secret Service wanted Pence to leave the Capitol complex but he wanted to remain on site.

The source said his Secret Service detail remained with him through the entire ordeal.

The violence in Washington followed a rally held earlier in the day where Trump had vowed to “never concede” the 2020 election, which he continues to claim was fraudalently won by President-elect Biden.

Tear gas was deployed after mobs broke in and protesters were seen sitting at the desk of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Members of the House and media were evacuated and took cover in the chambers.

In the chaos a woman was shot and has since died of her injuries.

Biden called Trump to go on television and “demand an end to this siege”. Trump posted a video to Twitter in which he asked his supporters to “go home and go home in peace”.

After first issuing a restriction on Trump’s tweets – preventing supporters from liking or retweeting them – Twitter has begun removing Trump tweets in their entirety and has locked the President out of his account for 12 hours.

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