4 died as Trump supporters occupied the US Capitol

Congress confirms Biden win; Trump pledges orderly transition

WASHINGTON – As Congress attempted to tally the Electoral College vote won by Joe Biden, President Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, causing a four-hour delay.

Angry Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

This comes as Vice President Mike Pence announced he would defy Trump’s request, saying he does not have the unilateral ability to discard electoral votes that will make Biden president on Jan. 20.

Follow the latest updates on Congress’ tally of the Electoral College vote and events happening in the nation’s capital below:

11:16 p.m. Wednesday

Four people died as supporters of President Donald Trump violently occupied the U.S. Capitol.

Washington, D.C., Police Chief Robert Contee said the dead on Wednesday included a woman who was shot by the U.S. Capitol Police, as well as three others who died in “medical emergencies.”

Police said both law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants during the hourslong occupation of the Capitol building before it was cleared Wednesday evening by law enforcement.

The woman was shot earlier Wednesday as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol where police were armed on the other side. She was hospitalized with a gunshot wound and later died.

D.C. police officials also say two pipe bombs were recovered, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee. Police found a cooler from a vehicle that had a long gun and Molotov cocktail on Capitol grounds.

10:15 p.m.

Senate resoundingly rejects challenge to Biden’s election win in Arizona; result in the state will stand.

9:15 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election win will show the world it won’t back down.

Pelosi made her comments as the House reconvened after being shut down for hours Wednesday by unruly pro-Trump protesters. She said that every four years the ritual provides an example to the world of American democracy.

8:35 p.m. Schumer says Jan. 6, 2021, will live in infamy

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says President Donald Trump “bears a great deal of the blame” after a mob loyal to him stormed the U.S. Capitol.

As the Senate reconvened to count electoral votes that will confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s win, Schumer said that Jan. 6, 2021, will “live forever in infamy” and will be a stain on the democracy.

Schumer said the events “did not happen spontaneously.”

He said Wednesday: “The president, who promoted conspiracy theories that motivated these thugs, the president, who exhorted them to come to our nation’s capital, egged them on.”

Trump has falsely claimed that there was widespread fraud in the election to explain away his defeat.

Schumer says the protesters should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

8:10 p.m. Senate resumes debate over Biden’s presidential election victory

The Senate has resumed debating the Republican challenge against Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, more than six hours after pro-Trump mobs attacked the Capitol and forced lawmakers to flee.

Scores of Republican representatives and 13 GOP senators had planned to object Wednesday to the electoral votes of perhaps six states that backed Biden. It was unclear whether those objections would continue in light of the day’s violent events.

President Donald Trump has falsely insisted that the election was marred by fraud and that he actually won. He reiterated those claims in remarks to thousands of protesters outside the White House early Wednesday and goaded them to march to the Capitol, which many of them did.

The mayhem had forced the House and Senate to abruptly end the day’s debates and flee to safety under the protection of police. And it prompted bipartisan outrage as many lawmakers blamed Trump for fostering the violence.

8 p.m. Obama condemns ‘violent crescendo’ fueled by baseless lies

Former President Barak Obama and George W. Bush have joined the voices de-crying the events at the Capitol Wednesday.

Obama said “history will remember” the violence was incited by a sitting president and those who repeated his baseless lies about the outcome of a lawful election.

“Their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo,” Obama’s statement read.

Bush also condemned the actions of certain political leaders leading up to the events.

“This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic --not our democratic republic,” he said. “I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions and our law enforcement.”

7:55 p.m. Melania Trump’s chief of staff resigns

Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff and press secretary for first lady Melania Trump, has resigned following violent protests at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Grisham says in a statement Wednesday that it was an “honor” to serve the country in the White House and be part of he first lady’s “mission” to help children.

Grisham was one of Trump’s longest serving aides, having joined the campaign in 2015. She served as the White House press secretary and never held a press briefing.

Wednesday’s violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by the president’s supporters sparked renewed conversations inside the White House about mass resignations by mid-level aides who are responsible for operations of the office of the president.

Two people familiar with the conversations said the aides were torn between fears of what more would happen if they left and a desire to register their disgust with their boss. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

7:45 p.m. RNC says violence at Capitol is not ‘patriotism’

The Republican National Committee says it strongly condemns the violence at the Capitol, adding that the violent scenes “do not represent acts of patriotism, but an attack on our country and its founding principles.”

The RNC is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform. Its statement condemning the violence came hours after Republican President Donald Trump baselessly complained that the election was stripped away “from great patriots.” He went on to tell them to “go home with love & in peace.”

The group’s communications director, Michael Ahrens, says, “What happened today was domestic terrorism.”

He says to see the U.S. flag used “in the name of unfounded conspiracy theories is a disgrace to the nation, and every decent American should be disgusted by it.”

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over him, citing false claims of voter fraud. He held a rally earlier Wednesday and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people.”

7:40 p.m. ‘We were then told told to pull out our gas masks’

Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, described hearing violent rioters breaching the Capitol building and breaking into the chamber coming within feet of himself and other lawmakers as they attempted to tally the Electoral College vote won by Joe Biden.

Soto said he was in the gallery along with other lawmakers in the midst of the objection debate over the Arizona electoral votes when members of the House begin receiving word about what was going on outside the Capitol building.

“When we started getting messages from our staff that violent protesters motivated by insightful language from Trump had reached the Capitol,” Soto said.

A few minutes later Vice President Mike Pence, who oversees the electoral session, was evacuated.

“We were then told to pull out our gas masks, as they secured the chamber, because they had to use bang gun and gas in the rotunda to repel folks who were trying to get in the chamber and you can hear that banging your pop pop pop sound of the bang guns.”

7:20 p.m. State lawmaker rushes Capitol with Trump supporters

A West Virginia lawmaker took video of himself and other supporters of President Donald Trump rushing into the U.S. Capitol after they breached the security perimeter.

In the video by Republican Del. Derrick Evans, later deleted from his social media page, he is shown wearing a helmet and clamoring at the door to breach the building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

“We’re in! Keep it moving, baby!” he said in a packed doorway amid Trump followers holding flags and complaining of being pepper sprayed. Once inside, Evans could be seen on video milling around the Capitol Rotunda, where historical paintings depict the republic’s founding, and yelled, “No vandalizing!”

State House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw said Evans will need to “answer to his constituents and colleagues regarding his involvement in what has occurred today.”

He said he has not spoken to Evans yet about his involvement.

The delegate from Wayne County said in a statement later on Facebook that he was heading back to West Virginia and “was simply there as an independent member of the media to film history.”

7:15 p.m.

Twitter locks, threatens to suspend Trump’s account

Social media platform Twitter has deleted a number of tweets belonging to President Donald Trump, including his video message to protesters in the Capitol Wednesday, saying they violate the site’s rules. The platform said Trump’s account will be locked for at least 12 hours and future rule violations could result in a permanent suspension.

7 p.m.

Dozens of pro-Trump supporters remain on the streets of the nation’s capital in defiance of the curfew.

6:40 p.m.

Pelosi: Continue counting once Capitol is cleared

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress should resume its counting of electoral votes Wednesday evening after the Capitol is cleared of pro-Trump occupiers, according to the Associated Press.

“Today’s shameful assault on our democracy — anointed at the highest level of government — must not deter us from our responsibility to the Constitution,” Pelosi tweeted. “Tonight, we will move forward with the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election.”

As of 6:40 p.m., dozens of pro-Trump supporters remained on the streets of the nation’s capital in defiance of a curfew, according to the AP.

6:30 p.m.

Romney says Trump incited violence

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney is blaming President Donald Trump for inciting a violent “insurrection” at the Capitol.

Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee and a frequent critic of Trump’s, said the violent breach of the Capitol on Wednesday was “due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months.″

The Utah senator said those who continue to support Trump’s “dangerous gambit” by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election “will forever be seen as complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.″

Romney ridiculed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other Republicans who want an “audit” of the election results: “Please! No Congressional led audit will ever convince those voters, particularly when the president will continue to claim the election was stolen.”

The simple truth, Romney said, “is that President-elect (Joe) Biden won this election. President Trump lost.″

6:25 p.m.

Trump justifies riots

President Donald Trump has appeared to justify the violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

In a tweet Wednesday night, Trump said, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

He added, “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and clashed with law enforcement before disrupting Congress’ tallying of the Electoral College votes. Trump has repeatedly told his supporters that the November election was stolen from him, even though that is not true.

Trump has faced mounting criticism from Republican lawmakers to do more to condemn the violence being perpetrated in his name.

6:20 p.m.

‘An intolerable attack’

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen says the violent pro-Trump protest at the U.S. Capitol was an “intolerable attack on a fundamental institution” of democracy.

Rosen said Wednesday that the Justice Department has been working with U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement agencies to secure the Capitol. He says hundreds of federal agents from Justice Department agencies were sent to assist.

He called it an “unacceptable situation” and said federal prosecutors “intend to enforce the laws of our land.”

Dozens of President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the security perimeter and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. They were seen fighting with officers both inside the building and outside.

Police declared the Capitol to be secure about four hours later.

6:10 p.m.

Shooting victim dies

A woman who was shot inside the U.S. Capitol during the violent pro-Trump protest has died.

That’s according to two officials familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

The Metropolitan Police Department said it was taking the lead on the shooting investigation. Police did not immediately provide details about the circumstances of the shooting.

Dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump breached the security perimeter and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. They were seen fighting with officers both inside the building and outside.

Hours later, police had declared the Capitol was secured.

Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

6:10 p.m.

Former president says he’s heartbroken

Former President George W. Bush says he and his wife, Laura, are sickened and heartbroken over the “mayhem” in Washington and have watched in “disbelief and dismay” as events unfolded.

Bush said the “assault” on the Capitol on Wednesday and the disruption of a constitutionally mandated meeting to affirm Democrat Joe Biden’s victory was “undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”

The Republican said in a statement that he is “appalled” by what he described as “reckless” behavior by some political leaders since the election and the lack of respect for U.S. institutions, traditions and law enforcement.

Bush addressed those who are disappointed by the election result, saying, “Our country is more important than the politics of the moment.”

Dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump breached the security perimeter and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting. They fought with officers both inside the building and outside.

6 p.m.

Capitol is deemed ‘secure’

As authorities in Washington D.C. enforce a city-wide curfew, officials have declared the U.S. Capitol complex secure.

The declaration comes as heavily armed police moved to end a nearly four-hour violent occupation by supporters of President Donald Trump.

An announcement saying “the Capitol is secure” rang out Wednesday evening inside a secure location for officials of the House. Lawmakers applauded.

Police officers in riot gear line up as protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The occupation interrupted Congress’ Electoral College count that will formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s upcoming inauguration on Jan. 20.

Lawmakers were evacuated to secure locations around the Capitol complex and Washington, D.C. after thousands of Trump supporters breached the building and skirmished with police officers.

Lawmakers have signaled that they would resume the constitutionally mandated count as soon as it was safe to do so.

5:50 p.m.

“The U.S. saved my family from tyranny”

Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Central Florida shared solemn and personal words on social media as authorities worked to secure the Capitol.

“I for one will never back down in defending America,” she wrote.

WATCH: Breaking down the Capitol chaos

News 6 Political Analyst and UCF History Professor Jim Clark sits down with News 6 Anchor Matt Austin to discuss events at Washington D.C. and how these riots will go down in history.

5:22 p.m.

Photo proof of secured Electoral College votes

5:05 p.m.

Copy-cat protests pop-up across U.S.

Pro-Trump demonstrators have massed outside statehouses across the country, forcing evacuations in at least two states. In St. Paul, Minnesota, cheers rang out from demonstrators in reaction to the news that supporters of President Donald Trump had stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Hundreds of mostly unmasked people gathered outside capitols on Wednesday with Trump flags and “Stop the Steal” signs. In Georgia and Oklahoma, some demonstrators carried guns.

New Mexico state police evacuated staff from a statehouse building that includes the governor’s and secretary of state’s offices as a precaution shortly after hundreds of flag-waving supporters arrived in a vehicle caravan and on horseback. A spokesperson for the governor’s office says there was no indication of threats at the statehouse.

The staff of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox was sent home as several hundred pro-Trump demonstrators rallied outside the Capitol, though the demonstration remained relatively calm. A brief scuffle between pro-Trump demonstrators, who included members of the Proud Boys, and counterprotesters broke out in Columbus, Ohio, but there was no immediate threat to the Capitol.

5:01 p.m.

“Our way is plain,” Biden calls for respect

Less than an hour before D.C. would enact its curfew, President-Elect Joe Biden reiterated his televised message on Twitter, calling for respect.

4:53 p.m.

Electoral College certificates safe

Two senators have told CBS News that Electoral College certificates were removed from the chamber before protesters seized the Capitol.

4:30 p.m.

Ossoff wins in Georgia, Democrats secure Senate

As Congress decides the next steps to reconvene the interrupted House and Senate sessions, the AP has called the Georgia senate race with Jon Ossoff securing the seat.

Democrats take the U.S. Senate majority with Ossoff’s win in Georgia, seizing control of Congress.

Democratic U.S. Senate challenger Jon Ossoff waves after speaking to the media at Dunbar Neighborhood Center during Georgia's Senate runoff elections, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

4:28 p.m.

Explosive device found

AP: At least 1 explosive device found near US Capitol; law enforcement officials say it’s no longer a threat.

4:20 p.m.

‘I know how you feel,’ President releases message asking supports to go home

4:10 p.m.

Biden addresses the nation

President-elect Joe Biden has called the violent protests on the U.S. Capitol “an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings: the doing of the people’s business.”

Biden also demanded President Donald Trump to immediately make a televised address calling on his supporters to cease the violence that he described as an “unprecedented assault’ as pro-Trump protestors violently occupy U.S. Capitol.

President-elect Joe Biden. (Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press - All rights reserved.)

Biden’s condemnation came after violent protesters breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, forcing a delay in the constitutional process to affirm the president-elect’s victory in the November election.

Biden addressed the violent protests as authorities struggled to take control of a chaotic situation at the Capitol that led to the evacuation of lawmakers.

4 p.m.

Pentagon says more help is on the way

The Pentagon says about 1,100 D.C. National Guard members are being mobilized to help support law enforcement as violent supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol.

Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said Wednesday afternoon that defense leaders have been in contact with the city and congressional leadership.

A defense official said all 1,100 of the D.C. Guard were being activated and sent to the city’s armory. The Guard forces will be used at checkpoints and for other similar duties and could also help in the enforcement of the 6 p.m. curfew being implemented tonight in the city.

The officials said the D.C. request for National Guard was not rejected earlier in the day. Instead, according to officials, the Guard members have a very specific mission that does not include putting the military in a law enforcement role at the Capitol. As a result, the Guard must be used to backfill law enforcement outside the Capitol complex, freeing up more law enforcement to respond to the Capitol.

Hoffman said the law enforcement response to the violence will be led by the Justice Department.

3:55 p.m.

Schumer, Pelosi to Trump: Make protesters leave

The top Democrats in Congress are demanding that President Donald Trump order his supporters to leave the Capitol following a chaotic protest aimed at blocking a peaceful transfer of power.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement on Wednesday after violent protesters stormed the Capitol. They said, “We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protestors leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately.”

Trump earlier encouraged his supporters occupying the U.S. Capitol to “remain peaceful,” but he did not call for them to disperse. He held a rally earlier Wednesday in which he repeated his false claims that President-elect Joe Biden had won the election through voter fraud.

He urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, telling them to “get rid of the weak Congress people” and saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

3:50 p.m.

Lawmakers evacuated, taken to safe locations

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Florida shared a photo of lawmakers evacuating the chamber before protesters fully occupied the Capitol.

“This was a historically dangerous attack on our democracy incited by the violent rhetoric of a treacherous President,” he wrote on social media.

3:45 p.m.

Pence tells protesters to leave

Pence, who was rushed out of the Capitol, echoed calls to stop the riots. He asked the president’s supporters to immediately leave the building via social media.

3:40 p.m.

President calls in National Guard

The National Guard is headed to D.C. to support Capitol police with the violent uprising occurring at the nation’s capital, according to the president’s press secretary.

Under the president’s direction, other federal protective services will join them to help secure the building.

Per AP, Virginia’s governor says he is also sending 200 state troopers and members of the state National Guard to assist.

3:29 p.m.

1 person hurt

One person has been shot at the U.S. Capitol as dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building and violently clashed with police.

That’s according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity amid a chaotic situation.

The exact circumstances surrounding the shooting were unclear. The person said the victim had been taken to a hospital. Their condition was not known.

The shooting came as dozens of Trump supporters breached security perimeters and entered the U.S. Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. Trump has riled up his supporters by falsely claiming widespread voter fraud to explain his loss.

Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

3:15 p.m.

Lawmakers call on president to dissuade protesters; he obliges

Shortly after lawmakers and members of the public called on the president to tell his supporters to stand down, the president tweeted to discourage the breach at the nation’s capital.

“Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order -- respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue,” Trump wrote on social media.

Sen. Rubio of Florida wrote moments before Trump’s message that the president’s leadership is crucial to mitigate the chaos.

3:10 p.m.

Protesters enter chambers

The Associated Press reports protesters are inside the Senate chamber.

One got up on the dais and yelled “Trump won that election.”

Several dozen are roaming through the halls, yelling, “Where are they?”

Some were also in the visitors’ galleries.

3:05 p.m.

Florida lawmakers react to D.C. protests

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) responded to the scenes at the capital calling it “3rd world style anti-American anarchy.”

2:50 p.m.

House members told to don gas masks at Capitol

Members of Congress inside the House chamber were told by police to put on gas masks after tear gas was dispersed in the Capitol Rotunda amid skirmishes by supporters of President Donald Trump

Pro-Trump protestors breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, violently clashing with law enforcement as lawmakers were gathered inside to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in November’s presidential election.

Law enforcement instructed lawmakers to retrieve masks from under their seats amid the clashes. The Capitol building was placed on lockdown, as Trump supporters marched through evacuated public spaces in the building.

2:45 p.m.

Trump tweets in support of law enforcement

Moments after President Trump criticized Pence, he tweeted a message of support to law enforcement at the Capitol working to secure the Capitol building.

2:40 p.m.

D.C. mayor issues curfew

The mayor of Washington D.C., has ordered a curfew in the nation’s capital beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday after protestors seeking to overturn the election results stormed the U.S. Capitol building.

Mayor Muriel Bowser issued the order as protestors supporting President Donald Trump breached the Capitol, where lawmakers were meeting to formally count the electors that will make Joe Biden president on Jan. 20.

The order extends through 6 a.m. Thursday.

The skirmishes came shortly after Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud.

2:36 p.m.

Central Florida lawmakers take shelter

Congresswoman Val Demings tweeted minutes after the House session gaveled-out, saying she and staff are safe.

“Democracy will win today. We are not scared and will do our part,” she wrote.

2:30 p.m.

Protests were expected

Melissa Kelly, the chief of staff for Rep. Scott Franklin, said protests and demonstrations were expected on Wednesday but not to this extent.

“We were prepared and anticipated a large crowd. We anticipated a lot of people coming in to make their voices heard, which happens a lot in our nation’s Capitol, but the volume and extent of what is happening right now is more than we had anticipated,” Kelly said.

She added that Capitol police had a plan in place.

“There is a very heavy police presence. A lot of roads around the Capitol Complex perimeter have been blocked off, a lot of Capitol police about. I’m not in the Capitol building, which is where a lot of the heavy action is right now, but they have been able to breach the Capitol building, and that is something that is unprecedented in my 20 years on Capitol Hill,” she said.

She felt confident that authorities would keep lawmakers safe.

“I have faith in our police and I have faith in the American people that this will hopefully come to a peaceful end,” she said.

2:28 p.m.

Trump sounds off on VP’s actions

President Trump took to Twitter to ridicule Pence’s decision to not stop the electoral college vote.

1:55 p.m.

Capitol police evacuate congressional buildings

The U.S. Capitol Police are evacuating some congressional office buildings due to “police activity” as thousands gather outside the Capitol to protest the electoral vote.

Police told congressional staff members they should evacuate the Cannon House Office Building and the building that houses the Library of Congress. It wasn’t immediately clear what specifically sparked the evacuation.

A police spokeswoman did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

Thousands of people have descended on the U.S. Capitol as Congress is expected to vote to affirm Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential win. Videos posted online showed protesters fighting with U.S. Capitol Police officers as police fired pepper spray to keep them back.

1:55 p.m.

The Senate’s top Republican has told his colleagues that Congress should not override the voters’ verdict in electing Democrat Joe Biden president, saying, “If we overrule them we will damage our republic forever.”

The Kentucky Republican made his remarks as the Senate weighed a challenge by a handful of GOP lawmakers to the 11 electoral votes Arizona cast for Biden.

It was the first of several states’ electoral votes that some Republicans are challenging, encouraged by President Donald Trump’s groundless charges that the election was riddled with fraud. Congress seems certain to reject all those challenges on Wednesday and formally certify Biden’s victory.

McConnell says while all elections have irregularities, they weren’t “anywhere near the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election.” He says Congress should not declare itself “a national board of elections on steroids,” and says reversing the election results would push the country’s democratic institutions toward “a death spiral.”

1:15 p.m.

Republicans from the House and Senate have objected to the counting of Arizona’s electoral vote, forcing votes in both chambers on Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

The objection was made by Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar and was signed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Both are Republicans. The two chambers now have two hours to debate the challenge.

Biden won the state by more than 10,000 votes. In all, eight lawsuits challenging Biden’s Arizona win have failed, in part over a lack of evidence.

The state’s Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of an election challenge, because the plaintiff lacked the right to bring the suit in the first place. The woman wasn’t a registered voter when she sued.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has said there were no irregularities with the vote in her state.___

1:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is taking aim at Republican members of Congress who have refused to join him in his effort to contest the results of the November election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump on Wednesday told a large crowd of supporters gathered on the Ellipse that they needed to vote these Republicans out of office by putting up challengers in primary elections to push them out.

“If they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight,” Trump said, calling the Republicans who aren’t siding with him “weak.”

Earlier, he named and praised Republicans who have pledged to contest the electoral votes of some states when they come up for approval on Capitol Hill.

His supporters, who braved chilly, windy conditions, chanted “Fight for Trump!”

___

1:10 p.m.

Congress has begun a joint session to count and confirm the Electoral College vote won by Joe Biden.

With supporters of President Donald Trump gathering around the Capitol, more than a dozen Republican senators and more than 100 Republican House members have said they will object to the count from as many as six battleground states. They are echoing Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud.

Their efforts are almost certain to fail as many Republicans have said they will oppose the objections. But the session is expected to last into the night on Wednesday as the House and Senate must consider each objection separately and vote on whether to sustain it.

Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the session. He has no power to overturn the results, despite pressure from Trump to do so.

Biden won the Electoral College 306-232. He is set to be inaugurated Jan. 20.

___

1 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is defying President Donald Trump, saying he does not have the unilateral ability to discard electoral votes that will make Joe Biden president on Jan. 20.

Pence, in a statement issued minutes before he was to begin presiding over a joint session of Congress to count electoral votes, said, “It is my considered judgement that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”

Trump has pressured his vice president to toss electors from battleground states that voted for Biden during the session.

___

12:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is continuing his pressure-campaign against Vice President Mike Pence, telling thousands of supporters falsely that all Pence has to do to stay in office is send Electoral College votes back to the states to be recertified.

Pence has no such unilateral power under the Constitution and congressional rules that govern the count. It is up to the House and Senate to voice objections, and in any case the states’ electors were chosen in accordance with state law, not fraudulently.

The demonstrators on the Ellipse, south of the White House, cheered Trump on and planned to march to Capitol Hill where Congress will vote to affirm or contest the Electoral College results. The president said he’d be walking with the crowd.

“All Mike Pence has to do is send it back to the states,” Trump said, urging his loyal vice president to join lawmakers who are protesting President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

“Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us,” Trump said, “and if he doesn’t it’s a sad day for our country.” Trump said it would take courage for Pence not to contest the results.

___

12:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is vowing that “we will never concede” as he speaks to supporters shortly before Congress is to convene for a joint session to confirm the Electoral College vote won by President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump took the stage at the Save America rally, which drew thousands of supporters who swamped the nation’s capital as the president’s Republican allies in the House and Senate plan to object to his November election loss to Biden.

Trump urged Vice President Mike Pence, who will play a largely ceremonial role in the process, to block certification of Biden’s win. Pence does not have this power.

“Our country has had enough,” Trump said. “We won’t take it anymore.”

___

11 a.m.

Sen. Mitt Romney says President Donald Trump’s election challenge has “disgraced the office of the presidency."

Romney told reporters on Capitol Hill ahead of Wednesday’s joint session to confirm Joe Biden’s Electoral College win that he was certain of the outcome.

“I’m confident that we’ll proceed as the Constitution demands and tell our supporters the truth — whether or not they want to hear it,” Romney said.

Republican lawmakers are picking up Trump’s demands to challenge the results from several states. But they are not expected to have enough votes in Congress to change the results. Biden is set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20.

Romney said, “President Trump has disrespected the American voters, has dishonored the election system and has disgraced the office of the presidency.”

He called the “gambit” of the challenges in Congress “very disappointing.”

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HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONGRESS' TALLY OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE

Read more:

— EXPLAINER: How Congress will count Electoral College votes

— Trump insists, falsely, that Pence can decertify results

— GOP’s Biden vote revolt is atypical challenge for McConnell

— Dividing party, Republicans poised to challenge Biden win

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

8:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is turning up the pressure on his vice president in a futile effort to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election in Congress.

Vice President Mike Pence will preside Wednesday over a joint session of lawmakers for the congressional tallying of electoral votes, but his role is only ministerial.

Taking to Twitter, Trump on Wednesday repeated his unfounded assertions that there was widespread election irregularities and fraud — which have been dismissed by federal courts and his own Justice Department.

“All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN,” Trump falsely claimed. “Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

Pence has no such unilateral power under congressional rules that govern the count.

More than 100 GOP lawmakers are expected to challenge the officially certified electoral votes of several battleground states. Majorities in both chambers are required to reject the will of voters, but enough Republican lawmakers have said they will join with Democrats to reject the last-ditch move by Trump allies.