US Capitol stormed by Trump supporters with Electoral College vote stalled by violence

Protestors attempting to break into the Capitol.

The US Capitol building has been breached as Congress set about counting the Electoral College votes to formally certify Joe Biden as president.

One woman has been shot and is in critical condition with at least five others taken to hospital after gunfire broke out in the US Capitol building.

On Wednesday (6 January) Congress met to officially count the Electoral College votes of the 50 states and Washington DC, a formality that usually goes by without incident.

As proceedings whirred into motion, extremist Trump supporters who had attended a “March to Save America” march followed the president’s instructions to descend on the Capitol and violently breached the complex, tearing down four layers of security fencing and fighting federal police amid shouts of “f**king pussies”.

Certification was suspended, Mike Pence and senators rushed from the Capitol in gas masks, and all buildings within the complex were placed under lockdown as trespassers entered.

Among the unbelievable images were one sof an extremist sat at Nancy Pelosi’s desk, and another (falsely) declaring “Trump won the election” on the dais.

More than one person – not least Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr – pointed out the stark contrast between the manner in which police allowed events to unfold and the violence routinely deployed against Black people at anti-racism protests.

Democrat Cori Bush lay blame squarely at Donald Trump’s feet. The president meanwhile offered an insipid plea for support for Capitol Police, prompting Joe Biden to issue him an ultimatum: go on national TV and call for an end to the “insurrection”.

Mike Pence confirms he will not do Trump’s bidding and overturn Electoral College vote.

With Trump still desperately trying to subvert democracy, all eyes had been on his right hand man Mike Pence, who will preside over the count.

Trump has pressured Pence to overturn the results in recent days (something he cannot legally do), but at the 11th hour the vice homophobe has, after four years, apparently found a spine.

In a statement, Pence confirmed he would not do Trump’s bidding, writing: “I do not believe that the founders of our country intended to invest the vice president with unilateral authority to decide which electoral voters should be counted during the joint session of Congress, and no vice president in American history has ever asserted such authority.

“Instead, vice presidents presiding over joint sessions has uniformly follow the Electoral Count Act, conducting the proceedings in an orderly manner even where the count resulted in the defeat of their party or their own candidacy.”

He was backed in Congress by house leader Mitch McConnell, who said: “Nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale that would’ve tipped the entire election. Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.”

Joe Biden refuses to be left out of the drama.

Around the same time as Pence released his three-page letter, Joe Biden announced his pick for attorney general: Merrick Garland.

If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Garland was nominated by Barack Obama in 2016 to serve on the Supreme Court, only to be blocked by Republican house leader Mitch McConnell.

In a delicious slice of serendipity (or, perhaps, a cold piece of revenge by Obama’s Vice President, Biden), news of Garland’s nomination leaked on the same day McConnell appeared certain to lose his grip on power, as the results of the Georgia run-off put the Democrats on the verge of winning control of the Senate. All this in one day, and there’s still time to go.