Political

Trump-Biden transition live updates: Joint session of Congress to count electoral votes begins

Bet_Noire/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY and CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 14 days.

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Jan 06, 1:37 pm
Gosar, Cruz object to certification of Arizona’s vote

As expected, the first election results have been challenged in Congress with GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona objecting to the counting of Arizona’s Electoral College votes.

“Are there any objections to counting the certificate of vote of the state of Arizona that the teller has verified periods to be regular in form and authentic?” said Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over the session, as he will for each state.

“I write for both myself and 60 of my colleagues to object to the counting of the electoral ballots from Arizona,” Gosar said.

“Is the objection in writing and signed by a senator?” said Pence.

“Yes, it is,” Cruz proudly said, to applause from GOP lawmakers, with some rising to their feet.

Senators will go into the Senate and House members will stay in the House for two hours of debate on the certification of Arizona’s vote.

Minutes before the session began, Pence was heard asking an aide if his statement was out — in which said he does not believe it’s in his power to object the Electoral College count — and the aide said yes.

“Thank you,” Pence said.

Earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admonished Republicans for gathering on their side of the chamber and their lack of social distancing, given the guidance issued asking members to stay in their offices and not congregate on the House floor unless they are voting.

Jan 06, 1:20 pm
Joint session of Congress to affirm Biden’s win underway

The joint session of Congress to confirm the Electoral College vote won by Biden is underway.

What’s usually a short, ceremonial event is expected to turn into a marathon affair. However, the end result will be the same — Biden will still be the next president, set to be inaugurated in just two weeks.

Vice President Pence is the presiding officer and in an uncomfortable situation as most legal experts agree he does not have the constitutional authority to object to Electoral College vote counting yet President Trump — down Pennsylvania Avenue at a “Save America” rally — demanded Pence “have the courage” to intervene, Trump saying he will be “very disappointed” if he doesn’t.

Moments before the session began, Pence released a statement through the White House making clear he does not believe he has the authority to intervene in the election

“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution contains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” Pence said.

The Vice President’s job is to go through ceremonial mahogany boxes full of the votes from the states, ticking off each one alphabetically — but this year, it won’t be long until a senator objects.

When Pence gets to Arizona, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a Trump loyalist, is expected to object, thus launching up to two hours of debate in each chamber. Thirteen senators and as many as 140 House Republicans have said they will make objections in the process, but it’s still unclear how many states will be challenged. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has said he’ll object regarding Pennsylvania. Hawley has also said he does not believe Pence has the ability to not accept the electoral certification.

Jan 06, 12:45 pm
Trump ramps up pressure on Pence minutes before Congress meets to count electoral votes

Trump, speaking at the Ellipse, just outside the White House grounds, before thousands of supporters Wednesday, repeated he will “never concede” — and ramped up pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to try to overturn the outcome at a joint session of Congress just minutes away — which Pence cannot do.

“We will never give up. We will never concede,” Trump said from behind plexiglass to chants of “Fight for Trump.”

“All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to re-certify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people,” Trump said, teasing the 1 p.m. joint session of Congress to formally count the Electoral College votes.

“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 added.

Trump said he would lead the crowd of supporters to the Capitol Building following his remarks.

“And we’re going to 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,” he said.

“We’re going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders, or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history — throughout eternity. They’ll be ashamed. And you know what? If they do the wrong thing, we should never, ever forget that they did. Never forget. We should never, ever forget,” Trump said.

“We got to remember, in a year from now, you’re going to start working on Congress, and we’ve got to get rid of the weak congresspeople. The ones that aren’t any good. The Liz Cheneys of the world,” he went on.

“Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you.”

Jan 06, 10:22 am
Showdown looms in Congress as GOP members ready challenge to Biden’s win

As Congress convenes for a joint session Wednesday to ratify the Electoral College vote confirming Biden’s win, a historic showdown looms large as a handful of Republican lawmakers have said they will challenge Biden’s win.

More than 100 GOP lawmakers in the House and at least a dozen in the Senate are expected to join with President Trump in a last-ditch effort to challenge his election loss.

Democrats are calling this an unprecedented attack on American democracy, upending what is traditionally a solemn and relatively routine process of counting the certified electoral votes from each states.

The Republican lawmakers’ complaints, however, are not expected to shift the final outcome.

The joint session convenes at 1 p.m. ET.

Jan 06, 10:13 am
Hawley does not believe Pence has authority to oppose election certification

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., one of the 13 Republicans who plan to launch objections to the electoral ratification Wednesday afternoon, said on Fox during an interview with Laura Ingram Tuesday night that he does not believe Vice President Pence has the ability to not accept the electoral vote count.

Pence does not have the ability to overturn the election, despite tweets to the contrary from the president.
 
“I don’t think the Vice President counts under the law,” Hawley said. “I mean, he’s sort of just there.”
 
Hawley is a close ally of Trump but broke with the president on this issue.
 
“This is really on Congress,” Hawley said. “This is why it’s important to object and why I intend to object.”

Jan 06, 9:46 am
Trump continues to pressure Pence ahead of joint session on electoral votes

In his first tweet of the morning, President Donald Trump continued Wednesday to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election — which Pence cannot do.

Trump continued to peddle his false claims of election fraud, telling Pence, “Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

Meanwhile, the nation’s capital is bracing for protests as Trump supporters convene for a rally in Washington, D.C.

Trump is expected to speak at 11 a.m. at what’s being called a “Save America Rally” from the Ellipse park just beside the White House.

Also Wednesday, a showdown looms in Congress as a handful of Republican lawmakers prepare to challenge Biden’s win.

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