In the early hours of Thursday morning, Congress did what it was always going to do and certified Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Vice President Mike Pence presided over the joint session that resumed Wednesday evening, spanning two days and two different versions of America, which, at last, culminated in the pro forma certification of the 2020 election at 3:45 a.m. The tone and tenor of the day changed significantly following the violent insurrection staged by thousands of pro-Trump supporters. The outcome, however, which was never subject to change other than in the minds of those who staged the attack, remained the same: Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. Pence read aloud the official tally of the 538 votes, articulating, once again, Biden’s win with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
A group of Trump-aligned Republicans, led by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, had planned on contesting the certification of a host of states, but the deadly Capitol invasion deflated much of the cynical Republican bluster. When the Trump mob stormed the building around 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, the process in the Senate, which is organized alphabetically by state name, had only gotten as far as Arizona. Republicans objected to the vote in the state, and the process was poised to turn long and sprawling with absurd objections made by Republicans in service of Trump’s desire to stay in office. But when Congress reconvened after the mayhem of the afternoon, the performative display was largely curtailed.
The Republican charade was not completely dispelled, though, as Hawley and GOP Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry lodged a challenge to Pennsylvania’s results. The Senate bypassed debate and quickly voted down the challenge 92 to 7. The House did the same after two hours of sometimes heated debate. Even after the day’s events, six Republican senators joined Hawley in supporting the Pennsylvania challenge: Sens. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Ted Cruz of Texas, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, and Rick Scott of Florida. Notably, neither of Pennsylvania’s senators, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, signed on. In the end, both the Arizona and Pennsylvania challenges were voted down by wide margins in both houses. No other states’ results were subject to challenge.
After Biden’s win was certified, President Donald Trump released a statement through a White House aide because the president’s Twitter account had been suspended by the social media company earlier Wednesday. Trump’s remarks for the first time explicitly acknowledged the outcome of the November election. “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” the statement read. “While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”
Update, Jan. 7, 2020: This post has been updated to more accurately characterize Trump’s statement.