Lawmakers have returned to the Senate floor of the U.S. Capitol to finish the counting of the Electoral votes, several hours after the building was stormed by pro-Trump extremists.
"They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed. They failed," Senator Mitch McConnell said, addressing lawmakers as they prepared to continue the certification process.
"We’ll complete the process the right way, by the vote. ... And we will certify the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election," McConnell continued.
Vice President Mike Pence, who earlier rejected President Donald Trump's request to block President-elect Joe Biden's confirmation, said as lawmakers reconvened, "To those who wreak havoc on our capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the peoples’ House."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the decision to reconvene in a letter to Congress leaders about an hour after the U.S. House of Representatives’ Sergeant at Arms announced the Capitol building was clear.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who had shared she was "okay" but "was barricaded in for several hours,” weighed in on Twitter. “For now, we must focus on task at hand: to preserve the integrity of our democracy, hold accountable those responsible for their attempts to subvert our nation’s elections and shred our Constitution apart.”
Just 12 of 538 electoral votes had been certified when the process had begun earlier Wednesday, before pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol for hours, CNN reported.
Some rioters were even photographed sitting in Pelosi’s office. One man could be seen with his feet on her desk as another photograph showed broken glass littered on her mantle in front of a photograph.
A picture taken during the insurrection showed boxes of ballots that were whisked away from the Senate floor just as staff were bring evacuated.
"This will be a stain on our country not so easily washed away," New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said.
After categorizing Trump as "undoubtedly our worst" president in U.S. history, he called those who stormed the building "rioters," "insurrectionists," "goons," "thugs" and "domestic terrorists."
They "must be prosecuted full extent of the law," he said, and "provided no leniency."
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