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LIVE UPDATES: Education head DeVos quits, cites Trump rhetoric

WASHINGTON (AP and KION)

UPDATE 1/7/2021 6:05 p.m. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has become the second Cabinet secretary to resign a day after a pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In a resignation letter Thursday, DeVos blamed President Donald Trump for inflaming tensions in the violent assault on the seat of the nation’s democracy. She says, “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao tendered her resignation earlier Thursday. News of DeVos’ resignation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

In a farewell letter to Congress earlier this week, DeVos urged lawmakers to reject policies supported by President-elect Joe Biden, and to protect Trump administration policies that Biden has promised to eliminate.

UPDATE 1/7/2021 4:20 p.m. President Donald Trump is conceding to President-elect Joe Biden and condemning the violent supporters who stormed the nation’s Capitol Wednesday.

In a new video message, Trump says that now that Congress has certified the results, the “new administration will be inaugurated on January 20” and his “focus now turns to ensuring a smooth orderly and seamless transition of power.”

He is also speaking out against the violence, calling it a “heinous attack” that left him “outraged by the violence lawlessness and mayhem.”

Trump did not address his role in inciting the violence. But he is telling his supporters that, while he knows they are “disappointed,” he wants them to know “our incredible journey is only just beginning.”

UPDATE 1/7/2021 4 p.m. A growing number of lawmakers are calling for President Donald Trump to be removed from office following a riot led by his supporters Wednesday, and among them are two Central Coast lawmakers.

Rep. Anna Eshoo shared on social media that she believes Trump should be impeached, saying he incited a violent insurrection and failed coup.

She said she has cosponsored articles of impeachment that will be filed in the House on Jan. 11.

Rep. Jimmy Panetta, who spoke to KION while under lockdown at the Capitol, said he has also signed on to an impeachment resolution. He says the President should be removed immediately and that Vice President Mike Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment. He is expected to release a statement soon.

Others calling for him to be removed through impeachment or the 25th Amendment include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Eric Swalwell, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

UPDATE 1/7/2021 3:40 p.m.Former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. is criticizing President Donald Trump for prioritizing his own interests over the nation’s following the deadly siege of the Capitol by the president’s supporters.

In a statement Thursday, the Trump-era ambassador called on Americans to join together and push through this “anguishing period of history.” His comments come a day after violent protesters broke into the U.S. Capitol, forcing Congress members to halt the ongoing vote to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election and then flee from the House and Senate chambers.

Huntsman says, “Our light has been dimmed by repeated reckless behavior encouraged by our President, who has shown time and again he cares more about his own ego and interests than in building trust in our ever-fragile institutions of democracy.”

Huntsman resigned from his role as ambassador to Russia in 2019 after two years. He joined other former Trump officials in condemning Wednesday’s attack, including former Attorney General William Barr and former White House chief of staff John Kelly.

UPDATE 1/7/2021 3:15 p.m.The head of the U.S. Capitol Police will resign effective Jan. 16 following the breach of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Chief Steven Sund said Thursday that police had planned for a free speech demonstration and did not expect the violent attack. He said it was unlike anything he’d experienced in his 30 years in law enforcement.

He resigned Thursday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on him to step down. His resignation was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The breach halted the effort by Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Protesters stormed the building and occupied for hours. The lawmakers eventually returned and finished their work.

UPDATE 1/07/2020 4:30 a.m. AP News reports that President Donald Trump - for the first time - acknowledged his defeat in the Nov. 3 election. He also announced there would be an “orderly transition on January 20th”. This comes after Congress concluded the electoral vote count early Thursday certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

UPDATE 1/07/2020 2:00 a.m. AP News is reporting Congress has confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the presidential election winner. This comes after a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a stunning attempt to overturn America’s presidential election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Trump in the White House.

Before dawn Thursday, lawmakers finished their work, confirming Biden won the election. Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over the joint session, announced the tally, 306-232.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 10:30 p.m. AP News is reporting that lawmakers are vowing an investigation into how police handled the violent breach at the Capitol.

According to Democratic chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, California congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, the breach "raises grave security concerns." She adds that her committee will work with House and Senate leaders to review the police response and preparedness.

Authorities say at least 52 people were arrested as of Wednesday night, including 26 on the Capitol grounds, and 14 police officers were injured.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 9:00 p.m. AP News is reporting 4 people died as Trump supporters occupied the Capitol building.

D.C. Police officers on scene report one woman was shot by law enforcement. Three others died as a result of medical emergencies taking place as the occupation was ongoing.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 5:45 p.m. CBS staff members shared information that Trump Administration cabinet members have discussed invoking the 25th Amendment.

The 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution lays out procedures to remove a President from office. According to the Cornell Law School, the Amendment was proposed and ratified after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and gives procedures for replacing either the president or vice president in the event of a death, removal, resignation or incapacitation.

The reporter who gathered the information said the discussion has not been formally presented to Vice President Mike Pence at this point. If the President were removed, Pence would take over.

The National Association of Manufacturers has called on Pence to consider removing President Trump from office "to preserve democracy."

UPDATE 1/6/2021 5:15 p.m. 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.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 4:20 p.m. In response to violent protests at the U.S. Capitol today, Twitter has removed some of President Donald Trump's tweets and locked his account.

Three tweets he posted earlier in the day, including a video sharing a message to the public during the violent protest, were removed for "repeated and severe violations" of the company's Civic Integrity policy.

Trump's account will also be locked for 12 hours. If he continues to violate rules, Twitter said it will permanently suspend his account.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 3:55 p.m. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress will resume the Electoral College proceedings once the Capitol is cleared of pro-Donald Trump protesters and safe for use.

Pelosi said she made the decision Wednesday in consultation with the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the vice president, who will preside.

She noted the day would always be “part of history,” but now it would be “as such a shameful picture of our country was put out into the world.”

Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington to fight Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. 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” and saying, “get the weak ones get out; this is the time for strength.”

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.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 3:30 p.m.California Gov. Gavin Newsom cancelled a Wednesday news conference on the coronavirus out of “an abundance of caution” after pro-Trump protesters gathered outside the state Capitol.

There were no major incidents or attempts to access the building. But the Democratic governor's decision came as rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to to overturn the presidential election results that elected Democrat Joe Biden as the next president.

Newsom called their actions “reprehensible and an outright assault to our democracy and Democratic institutions.” He further called on President Donald Trump to “move immediately to a peaceful transition of power.”

Biden is set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 3:10 p.m. 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.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 2:50 p.m. Officials have declared the U.S. Capitol complex “secure” after 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.

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.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 2:25 p.m. The Washington, D.C., police chief says at least five weapons have been recovered and at least 13 people have been arrested so far in pro-Trump protests.

The mostly maskless crowd stormed the Capitol earlier Wednesday as lawmakers were meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win. One person was shot; their condition is unknown.

Police Chief Robert Contee called the attack a riot.

As darkness began to set in, law enforcement officials were working their way toward the protesters, using percussion grenades to try to clear the area around the Capitol. Big clouds of tear gas were visible.

Police were in full riot gear. They moved down the West steps, clashing with demonstrators.

Mayor Muriel Bowser earlier declared a 6 p.m. curfew.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 2:15 p.m. Central Coast Rep. Jimmy Panetta spoke to KION's Aaron Groff while he is sheltering in place in his office at the U.S. Capitol.

Panetta told us that the protests turned to a lockdown while he was on a Zoom call about vaccine distribution on the Central Coast. He sent his staff home when they were ordered to be evacuated, but said he felt that it was important to stay.

Panetta told Aaron:

"Despite what we are seeing, our intent is to make sure our democracy continues to work. Right now, I believe it is important to disperse this crowd so we can get back to doing our job in the people's House in certifying the Electoral vote and vote count and making sure there is a peaceful transition of power  on January 20th. I have to say that is a hell of a lot more than what our President is doing at this time. My question to all Americans is- where is the president right now? All the president right now has done is send out a tweet. But what would you expect from a president that only knows how to tweet and not lead. And what we are seeing is an example of this president's lack of leadership when it comes to serving the people and standing up to the oath he took to protect this democracy. And that is why we need to make sure we get back in the house and continue to do our job when it comes to moving our democracy forward."

Panetta said he is concerned by how easily protesters were able to enter the Capitol and chambers.

Aaron Groff will have more tonight at 5 and 6 on KION.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 1:47 p.m. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has released a statement in response to ongoing protests at the U.S. Capitol to condemn it, saying it is "an outright assault to our democratic institutions."

Protests have also begun at the state capitol in Sacramento, and they have reportedly become violent.

Read Newsom's statement below:

UPDATE 1/6/2021 4:35 p.m. At least one explosive device has been found near the U.S. Capitol amid a violent occupation of the building by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Law enforcement officials said the device was no longer a threat Wednesday afternoon.

Thousands of supporters of the president occupied the Capitol complex as lawmakers were beginning to tally the electoral votes that will formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Vice President Mike Pence has called on protesters to leave the Capitol immediately, going further than Trump, who merely called for his supporters to “remain peaceful.”

UPDATE 1/6/2021 1:20 p.m.

President Trump released a taped address as protests continue. The transcription is below:

"I know your pain. I know you're hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don't want anybody hurt. It is a very tough period of time. There has never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they can take it away from all of us. From me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can't play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You're very special. You've seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel, but go home and go home in peace."

UPDATE 1/6/2021 1 p.m.

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 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.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 12:55 p.m.

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.”

UPDATE 1/6/2021 12:40 p.m. Republican lawmakers are increasingly calling on President Donald Trump to act to deescalate the violent protests at the U.S. Capitol by his supporters angry about his election loss.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he spoke with the president earlier Wednesday and told him to make a statement to “make sure that we can calm individuals down.”

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that “it is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down.”

Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey told The Associated Press that while he sympathizes with the protesters’ position, they shouldn’t get violent, and it would be “nice” if Trump called on them to “protest in a peaceful way in an appropriate spot, where you belong, where you should be.”

Many Republicans had backed Trump’s false claims of widespread voter spread to explain away his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, of Wisconsin, posted a video message urging Trump to “call it off.”

“This is Banana Republic crap that we’re watching right now,” said Gallagher, who had spoken out against objections from fellow Republicans to certifying President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College vote.

UPDATE 1/6/2020 12:30 p.m. Central Coast Rep. Jimmy Panetta is one of the lawmakers under lockdown at the U.S. Capitol.

One person has reportedly 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.

UPDATE 1/6/2021 12 p.m.

Protesters backing President Donald Trump have breached the U.S. Capitol, forcing a delay in the constitutional process to affirm Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.

Trump urged his supporters to come to Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of Biden’s win. Several Republican lawmakers have backed his calls, despite there being no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing in the election.

Protesters are now 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.

PREVIOUS STORY: President Donald Trump’s extraordinary effort to overturn the presidential election is going before Congress as lawmakers convene for a special joint session to confirm the Electoral College vote won by Joe Biden.

The typically routine proceeding Wednesday will be anything but that, as Trump mounts his desperate attempt to stay in office. The president’s Republican allies in the House and Senate plan to object to the election results, heeding supporters’ plea to “fight for Trump” as he stages a rally outside the White House. It’s tearing the party apart.

The last-gasp effort is all but certain to fail, defeated by bipartisan majorities in Congress prepared to accept the November results. Biden, who won the Electoral College 306-232, is to be inaugurated Jan. 20.

“The most important part is that, in the end, democracy will prevail here,” Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, among those managing the proceedings, said in an interview.

The joint session of Congress, required by law, will convene at 1 p.m. EST before a watchful, restless nation — months after the election, two weeks before the inauguration’s traditional peaceful transfer of power and against the backdrop of a surging COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will never give up, we will never concede,” Trump told the massive crowd at noon outside the White House.

Lawmakers were told by Capitol officials to arrive early, due to safety precautions with protesters in Washington. Hundreds of Trump supporters gathered around the Capitol, filling the plaza area and sidewalks, many bearing enormous flags and few wearing masks.. Visitors, who typically fill the galleries to watch landmark proceedings, will not be allowed under COVID-19 restrictions.

The session also comes as overnight results from Georgia’s runoff elections put Democrats within reach of a Senate majority.

The current majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who tried to warn his Republican Party off this challenge, was expected to deliver early remarks. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it a day of “enormous historic significance,” about “guaranteeing trust in our democratic system.”

But it is Vice President Mike Pence who will be most closely watched as he presides over the session.

Despite Trump’s repeated claims of voter fraud, election officials and his own former attorney general have said there were no problems on a scale that would change the outcome. All the states have certified their results as fair and accurate, by Republican and Democratic officials alike.

Pence has a largely ceremonial role, opening the sealed envelopes from the states after they are carried in mahogany boxes used for the occasion, and reading the results aloud. But he is under growing pressure from Trump to overturn the will of the voters and tip the results in the president’s favor, despite having no legal power to affect the outcome.

“Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

With the Senate results from Georgia streaming in and Democrats within reach of controlling the chamber, Trump amplified his pleas to stay in office as a veto check on the rival party. At the rally he said he had just talked to Pence and criticized Republicans who are not willing to fight for him as “weak.”

While other vice presidents, including Al Gore and Richard Nixon, also presided over their own defeats, Pence supports those Republican lawmakers mounting challenges to the 2020 outcome.

It’s not the first time lawmakers have challenged results. Democrats did in 2017 and 2005. But the intensity of Trump’s challenge is like nothing in modern times, and an outpouring of current and elected GOP officials warn the showdown is sowing distrust in government and eroding Americans’ faith in democracy.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters on Capitol Hill that Trump’s election challenge has “disgraced the office of the presidency.”

“We’ll proceed as the Constitution demands and tell our supporters the truth -- whether or not they want to hear it,” Romney said.

Still, more than a dozen Republican senators led by Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, along with as many as 100 House Republicans, are pressing ahead to raise objections to individual states’ reports of Biden’s wins.

Under the rules of the joint session, any objection to a state’s electoral tally needs to be submitted in writing by at least one member of the House and one of the Senate to be considered. Each objection will force two hours of deliberations in the House and Senate, ensuring a long day.

House Republican lawmakers are signing on to objections to the electoral votes in six states — Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Arizona will likely be the first to be disputed as the state tallies are announced in alphabetical order. Cruz has said he will join House Republicans in objecting to that state, even as he acknowledged the effort will not have the votes to succeed.

“Extraordinarily uphill,” he said late Tuesday on Fox News.

Hawley has said he will object to the election results from Pennsylvania, almost ensuring a second two-hour debate despite resistance from the state’s Republican senator, Pat Toomey, who said the tally of Biden’s win is accurate.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler may challenge the results in her state of Georgia. She was defeated in Georgia’s runoff to Democrat Raphael Warnock, but can remain a senator until he is sworn into office.

The other Senate runoff race between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff remained too early to call Wednesday, though Ossoff declared he won. Perdue, who was seeking reelection, is ineligible to vote in the Senate because his term expired with the start of the new Congress Sunday.

Democrats have the majority in the House, while the Republican-led Senate is divided over the issue. Bipartisan majorities in both chambers are expected to soundly reject the objections.

The group led by Cruz is vowing to object unless Congress agrees to form a commission to investigate the election, but that seems unlikely.

Those with Cruz are Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

Many of the Republicans challenging the results said they are trying to give voice to voters back home who don’t trust the outcome of the election and want to see the lawmakers fighting for Trump.

Hawley defended his role saying his constituents have been “loud and clear” about their distrust of the election. “It is my responsibility as a senator to raise their concerns,” he wrote to colleagues.

As criticism mounted, Cruz insisted his aim was “not to set aside the election” but to investigate the claims of voting problems. He has produced no new evidence.

Both Hawley and Cruz are potential 2024 presidential contenders, vying for Trump’s base of supporters.

The Associated Press

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

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