• The Capitol has gone on lockdown after thousands of Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the building in protest of Congress certifying the election for Joe Biden 
  • Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday he will not follow President Donald Trump’s demand that he overturn the election, vowing he will heed to the constitution, adding ‘So Help Me God’
  • Pence sent a letter to the 535 senators and representatives on Capitol Hill ahead of his presiding over the Joint Session that will certify Joe Biden’s victory 
  • He said vice presidents in the past have conducted ‘the proceedings in an orderly manner even where the count resulted in the defeat of their party or their own candidacy’ 
  • Donald Trump addressed thousands of his supporters at his rally Wednesday just before Congress was to begin counting the electoral votes that will make Joe Biden the next president 
  • Trump threatened Mike Pence telling him to overturn the general election results shortly before Congress s was to begin counting the electoral votes that will make Joe Biden the next president 
  • In an extraordinary speech, Trump once again called his election ‘rigged’ and said, ‘We will never concede’  

By EMILY GOODIN, U.S. POLITCAL REPORTER FOR DAILYMAIL.COM and GEOFF EARLE, DEPUTY U.S. POLITICAL EDITOR FOR DAILYMAIL.COM and NIKKI SCHWAB U.S. POLITICAL REPORTER FOR DAILYMAIL.COM

PUBLISHED: 05:16 AEDT, 7 January 2021 | UPDATED: 06:51 AEDT, 7 January 2021

In an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Capitol, protesters supporting President Donald Trump rushed the stairs of the building and smashed windows as they pushed their way inside.

In a massive security breach, the protesters, waving blue Trump flags, breached the Senate chamber, making their way inside as senators were rushed from the room by U.S. Capitol Police. 

They were heard banging on the doors of the House chamber and yelling outside as police officers rushed lawmakers out of the chamber and to safety.

There were reports of gun shots outside of the House as an armed stand off took place at the doors of the chamber.

‘We’ve been given gas masks on the House floor. Tear gas has been used in the Rotunda,’ wrote Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly on twitter.

Vice President Mike Pence, presiding in the Senate, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, presiding in the House, were removed from their respective chambers at the first hint of the breach for their own safety.

The protesters filled the rotunda, which sets below the dome of the Capitol and is filled with paintings depicting important scenes in the founding of the nation. They also were seen marching through Statuary Hall, the room off the House chamber that is filled with statues of the nation’s founders and used for special ceremonies.

In the crypt of the Capitol, where George Washington was originally supposed to be buried, police and protesters clashed, fighting it out.

‘We now have individuals that have breached the Capitol building. They are in the Rotunda area,’ Capitol police said.

Trump urged his supporters to stay peaceful, in a tweet that came after they had breached the building. At a rally earlier that morning, he had encouraged them to march on the Capitol, where lawmakers were certifying the electoral college vote for Joe Biden.

‘Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!,’ the president wrote.

But he did not tell them to leave.

U.S. Capitol Police used tear gas as hundreds of people were seen climbing the marble steps outside the building. They banged on the locked doors of the Capitol and smashed the glass in the doors.An army of Donald Trump’s supporters stormed Congress Wednesday after he told them to march on the Capitol – with Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi and lawmakers rushed to safety as thousands threatened to break through police barricadesAn army of Donald Trump’s supporters stormed Congress Wednesday after he told them to march on the Capitol – with Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi and lawmakers rushed to safety as thousands threatened to break through police barricadesMembers of congress ran from the floor as police ordered them to evacuate to their offices for their own safety after a mob smashed through police barricadesMembers of congress ran from the floor as police ordered them to evacuate to their offices for their own safety after a mob smashed through police barricadesThe storming brought the certification of Joe Biden’s victory to a halt – after Pence said he would defy Trump and refuse to overturn the election single-handedThe storming brought the certification of Joe Biden’s victory to a halt – after Pence said he would defy Trump and refuse to overturn the election single-handedSupporters of Donald Trump are seen inside the US Capitol after rioters breached security and entered the Capitol Protesters gesture to U.S. Capitol Police in the hallway outside of the Senate chamber at the Capitol+55Protesters gesture to U.S. Capitol Police in the hallway outside of the Senate chamber at the Capitol A rioter holds a Trump flag inside the US Capitol after storming the buildingA rioter holds a Trump flag inside the US Capitol after storming the buildingImages emerged shortly before of hundreds of protesters descending on the steps of the Capitol after rallying near the White House for President Donald Trump+55

  • Images emerged shortly before of hundreds of protesters descending on the steps of the Capitol after rallying near the White House for President Donald TrumpA Capitol Police officer urged lawmakers to leave the building after top leaders were escorted out+55
  • A Capitol Police officer urged lawmakers to leave the building after top leaders were escorted outVice President Mike Pence has refused to follow Donald Trump's demand to overturn the electoral college results and certify Joe Biden's election victoryVice President Mike Pence has refused to follow Donald Trump’s demand to overturn the electoral college results and certify Joe Biden’s election victoryPresident Donald Trump threatened Vice President Mike Pence telling him to overturn the general election results shortly before Congress s was to begin counting the electoral votes that will make Joe Biden the next president+55President Donald Trump threatened Vice President Mike Pence telling him to overturn the general election results shortly before Congress s was to begin counting the electoral votes that will make Joe Biden the next presidentPence acknowledged Trump's allegations the election was rigged, which there has been no proof and no court has upheld, in a likely peace offering to the presiden+55
  • Pence acknowledged Trump’s allegations the election was rigged, which there has been no proof and no court has upheld, in a likely peace offering to the president

As footage started coming out of Capitol Hill being breached by angry Trump supporters, Donald Trump Jr. tried to quell the outburst with a tweet – that was critical of Democrats and liberals.

‘This is wrong and not who we are. Be peaceful and use your 1st Amendment rights, but don’t start acting like the other side,’ Trump Jr. wrote. ‘We have a country to save and this doesn’t help anyone.’

Meanwhile, the president continued to direct his rage at Pence, who earlier announced he would not single-handedly overturn the election results from his position of the chair.

Trump tweeted as the chaos ensued inside the U.S. Capitol
  • Trump tweeted as the chaos ensued inside the U.S. Capitol

‘Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!’ the president wrote.

The extraordinary breech was a departure from security mishaps of the past. Protesters have routinely disrupted televised hearings while in progress and even events inside the House chamber. But trained Capitol Police are usually able to arrest disruptors and remove them immediately. Often formal charges are never filed.

But in Wednesday’s storming of the building, dozens of people made it by armed police officers and entered the building without going through any security set up to keep out those with weapons or dangerous items.

There were occasions after Sept. 11th when the building was placed on lockdown and people were ordered to leave, but this usually happened when suspicious packages were discovered.

There are more than 2,000 Capitol Police officer with jurisdiction over Capitol grounds. But footage from inside the building did not show an immediate effort to make mass arrests.

When the building is open, as it was before the pandemic, members of the general public are not allowed to walk unescorted on the second floor where lawmakers enter and exit the legislative chambers.

The protesters were aided by scaffolding constructed for the upcoming inauguration. 

In another tense piece of video from inside, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) tweeted video of protesters repeatedly rushing Capitol Police officers in the crypt, in the ground floor part of the building under the rotunda.

‘I like many people voted for President Trump in the 2020 election and hoped for a different result,’ McCaul wrote. ‘But violence and destruction is not the way to express your grievances. This is disgraceful and has to end.’

In a letter Wednesday, Pence said, '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'In a letter Wednesday, Pence said, ‘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’

Trump told thousands of supporters just outside the White House that he wanted Pence to ‘come through’ for us and demanded that he reject electoral votes out of hand over that the president claims is ‘fraud.’

He threatened Pence saying ‘I’m not hearing good stories’ and telling him to have ‘courage’ to strike down swing states’ votes – a move which would defy the constitution.

But minutes before arriving on Capitol Hill to preside over the joint session of Congress to certify the election’s outcome, Pence bluntly told lawmakers that he would refuse to obey Trump’s orders.

Pence sent a letter to the 535 senators and representatives on Capitol Hill ahead of his presiding over the Joint Session that will certify Joe Biden’s victory.

In it, he outlined his belief in his role in the proceedings, which he notes is ‘ceremonial’ and adds that it doesn’t include the authority to ‘determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.’

Trump has tried to put the blame on Pence for his expected loss on Wednesday but the president also lacks support among the majority of senators in his own party, which dooms his efforts for a congressional overthrow of the results. 

Pence acknowledged Trump’s allegations the election was rigged, of which there has been no proof and no court has upheld, in a likely peace offering to the president.

‘I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of this election,’ he wrote.

But he noted as vice president he does not have the power from the constitution to decide which electoral votes are counted and which are not.

‘As a student of history who loves the constitution and reveres its Framers, I do not believe that the Founds of our country intended to invest the vice president with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress and no Vice President in American history has ever asserted such authority,’ Pence noted.

He added vice presidents in the past have conducted ‘the proceedings in an orderly manner even where the count resulted in the defeat of their party or their own candidacy.’

‘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,’ he said.

He concluded his letter with a prayer to God: ‘When the Joint Session of Congress convenes today, I will do my duty to see to it that we open the certificates of electors of the several states, we hear objections raised by Senators and Representatives, and we count the votes of the Electoral College for President and Vice President in a manner consistent with our Constitution, laws and history. So Help Me God.’  

'The law says voter registration ends on October 5. Democrats said we don't care what the law says they went to a court got an Obama appointed judge to extend in 18 days,' Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, a top Trump ally on Capitol Hill, complained of Arizona

‘The law says voter registration ends on October 5. Democrats said we don’t care what the law says they went to a court got an Obama appointed judge to extend in 18 days,’ Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, a top Trump ally on Capitol Hill, complained of Arizona

REPUBLICANS OBJECT TO ARIZONA’S VOTES 

Lawmakers got through Alabama and Alaska, two states that went for Trump, without an objection.

Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, objected to his state’s Electoral College votes going to Biden and Harris. He confirmed that his objection had been signed on to by a U.S. senator.

Democrats in the chamber audibly groaned.

Droves of Republicans in the chamber stood up and clapped.

The move forced Pence to order the houses out of joint session. The senators in the House chamber started moving back toward their side of the U.S. Capitol. 

On the House side, during their debate on the Arizona objection, Republican lawmakers used their time to complain about the treatment of the president, particularly the impeachment process and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

They did not offer any proof of voter fraud but complained that voter laws were changed ahead of the November contest, which is not illegal.

‘The law says voter registration ends on October 5. Democrats said we don’t care what the law says they went to a court got an Obama appointed judge to extend in 18 days,’ Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, a top Trump ally on Capitol Hill, complained of Arizona.

Many states had their voter registration deadlines extended because of the coronavirus pandemic – the extension applied to voters of both parties. Other states extended the time period allowing mail-in voting, again because of the pandemic and it applied to all voters.

Democrats argued the election was legally conducted.

‘Under some of the most trying circumstances in our history, our fellow citizens conducted a free and fair election vindicating our founders belief once again that we were capable of self government, and a peaceful transition of power,’ Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over the debate. She sanitized the gavel before she used it. Pence had used it when he presided over the Joint Session.

Pelosi also reminded lawmakers that only 11 members from each party were allowed on the House floor at a time due to social distancing. She called out Republicans for having too many lawmakers on the floor.

MITCH MCCONNELL SLAMS ELECTION ‘CONSPIRACY THEORIES’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shamed Donald Trump and his own Republican colleagues for mounting challenges to the Electoral College vote count, saying their doing so could lead to a ‘death spiral’ of American democracy – and pointing out there’s no real evidence of widespread voter fraud.

‘We’re debating a step that has never been taken in American history, whether Congress should overrule the voters and overturn a presidential election,’ he said on the Senate floor, after Rep. Paul Gosar and a batch of GOP senators, including Sen. Ted Cruz, objected to Arizona’s Electoral College vote count.

McConnell ridiculed President Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in a five-minute speech which will be one of his last as majority leader – and which he said was about the most important vote of his career.

‘The assertions range from specific, local allegations to Constitutional arguments to sweeping conspiracy theories,’ McConnell said.

He reminded senators that he was supportive of Trump using the country’s legal system, which handed the president and his team loss after loss. And pointed out that these cases were heard by some of the ‘all-star judges whom the president himself nominated’ – including on the U.S. Supreme Court.

McConnell said that every election is plagued by some instances of vote irregularity’And of course that’s unacceptable,’ he said.McConnell ridiculed President Donald Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud in a five-minute speech which will be one of his last as majority leader – and which he said was about the most important vote of his careerMitch McConnell ridiculed President Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in a five-minute speech which will be one of his last as majority leader – and which he said was about the most important vote of his career

The top Senate Republican also said he supported ‘strong state-led votign reforms,’ adding that he didn’t wan tto see ‘last year’s bizarre pandemic procedures’ – like mail-in ballots that gave Democrats an edge – ‘become the new norm.’

‘But my colleagues nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale, the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election,’ McConnell argued. ‘Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break, when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.’

He pointed out that the Constitution gives Congress a ‘limited role.’

‘We simply can’t declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids,’ McConnell said.

Twisting the knife into Trump, McConnell also pointed out that the race between Biden and Trump ‘was not unusually close.’

‘The Electoral College margin was almost identical to what it was in 2016,’ McConnell pointed out.

‘If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side our democracy would enter a death spiral,’ McConnell warned. ‘We’d never see a whole nation accept an election again.’

‘Every four years there would be a scramble for power at any cost,’ he added. 

TRUMP’S STOP THE STEAL RALLY 

This came after President Donald Trump excoriated ‘weak’ Republicans and demanded fealty from Pence to a rally crowd near the White House Wednesday where he demanded Pence and Congress overturn the election results that lead to his defeat.

In an extraordinary speech, Trump once again called his election ‘rigged’ just minutes before a joint meeting of Congress was to begin counting the certified electoral votes that have him losing to Joe Biden. 

Trump referred to votes that came in after 10pm election night – which consisted of in-person and mail-in ballots and denied him the lead he said he and his pollsters anticipated – as ‘these explosions of bullsh*t.’ 

Members of the crowd immediately chanted ‘Bullshi*t!’ in response. 

‘Our election was over at 10:00 in the evening,’ Trump said.

Trump mocked his party’s 2012 Republican presidential nominee, now-Sen. Mitt Romney, for conceded his own race back then.

‘We will never concede. It doesn’t happen,’ he said – although losing candidates have conceded for generations. ‘There’s never been anything like this. It’s a pure theft.’ 

Trump’s comments amounted to a declaration of war on elements of his party, after his lawyer Rudy Giuliani demanded ‘trial by combat’ against opponents of his claims of election fraud.

Trump spoke to a crowd of several thousand – but referred to them as consisting of ‘hundreds of thousands’ of supporters fathered on a lawn south of the White House that doesn’t hold that many.

He said his election was ‘stolen by the fake news media. That’s what they’ve done and that’s what they’re doing.’Trump addressed his thousands of his supporters near the White House Wednesday at his 'Save America' rally and declared war on his own party, calling Republicans who opposed him 'weak'Trump addressed his thousands of his supporters near the White House Wednesday at his ‘Save America’ rally and declared war on his own party, calling Republicans who opposed him ‘weak’Hours after a humiliating defeat in one Georgia Senate race and the prospect of losing another, Team Trump showed no sign of concedingHours after a humiliating defeat in one Georgia Senate race and the prospect of losing another, Team Trump showed no sign of concedingA stand was being erected at the base of the US Capitol as a pro-Trump supporter holds a flag, hours before Congress meets to certify the electoral college vote for Biden

He urged his supporters to march down to the Congress, which was to commence the count at 1 pm.

‘We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,’ he said, speaking from behind a pane of bullet-proof material.

He turned up the heat on Pence, a potential 2024 contender who will preside over the count. His role is set in the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act, and is largely ceremonial.

‘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 because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution,’ he said.

Trump acknowledged that he has tried to pressure Pence into rejecting votes from states he lost, quoting from a conversation he has denied happened.

‘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,’ he told his fans, who cheered ‘Stop the Steal!’ at times.

‘I said Mike, that doesn’t take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage. And then we’re stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot and we have to live with that,’ he said of Biden.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani once again raised allegations of widespread election fraud – which he said also occurred in the Georgia Senate runoff elections'If we're wrong we will be made fools of, but if we're right a lot of them will go to jail. Let's have trial by combat,' he said, without explaining exactly what he meant by combat‘If we’re wrong we will be made fools of, but if we’re right a lot of them will go to jail. Let’s have trial by combat,’ he said, without explaining exactly what he meant by combatDonald Trump Jr, the president's eldest son, demanded that Republican Party lawmakers in Congress 'be the hero, not the zero' and refuse to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory+55

  • Donald Trump Jr, the president’s eldest son, demanded that Republican Party lawmakers in Congress ‘be the hero, not the zero’ and refuse to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victoryThousands of supporters of President Trump are seen above near the Washington Monument for the 'Save America' rally on Wednesday+55
  • Thousands of supporters of President Trump are seen above near the Washington Monument for the ‘Save America’ rally on Wednesday

Trump touted his own vote total, but denied Biden’s was real.

‘And by the way, does anybody believe that Joe had 80 million votes?’ Trump asked rhetorically. ‘Does anybody believe that? He had 80 million computer votes. It’s a disgrace,’ Trump said.

His mention of the pandemic came in terms of his own race, where millions voted by mail as thousands battled infections in a year more than 300,000 Americans died of COVID-19.

‘They’ve used the pandemic as a way of defrauding the people in a proper election,’ Trump said.

‘Eight weeks. I want to go back eight weeks. Let’s go back eight weeks,’ he mused at one point, as he described a conversation with an unnamed official who told him that he would be lock to win in 2024.  

Trump repeatedly couched his demands not as an effort to overturn the votes of the people, but as a legal effort.

‘Somebody says: Well we have to obey the Constitution,’ Trump said. ‘And you are, because you’re protecting our country and you’re protecting the Constitution so you are,’ he said.

He said it would protect the country from having what he called ‘an illegitimate president.’

‘The states were defrauded. They were given false information,’ Trump claimed.

During various tangents, he complained about how he is treated on social media, such as when ‘I get a flag’ on his tweets. ‘I don’t care about Twitter, Twitter’s bad news, he said afterward.

He went after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell several times, including for not going along with his proposal to change communications laws.

‘I helped Mitch get elected,’ he said of the longtime incumbent.

‘And then all of a sudden you have something like this,’ he said, going after ‘weak Republicans’ and ‘pathetic Republicans’ – despite a top official in Georgia blaming him for the likely defeats of two Senate Republican incumbents.

He also called out Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) after her comment that failing to accept the electors certified by states would violate the Constitution.

‘The Liz Cheneys of the world, we’ve got to get rid of them,’ Trump said.

‘Brian Kemp – vote him the hell out of office please,’ Trump said of the Georgia governor.

He said Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger had ‘no clue’ what was going on, but then said ‘maybe’ he was with the other side – the Democrats.

‘I can’t believe this guy was a Republican,’ said Trump. ‘He loves recording telephone conversations,’ Trump said – mentioning a leaked call where Trump can be heard asking him to ‘find’ 11,780 votes to make him the winner.

‘People love that conversation, because it says what’s going on,’ Trump said.  Donald Trump Jr (left), the president's eldest son, kisses his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle (right), before addressing the rally on WednesdayDonald Trump Jr (left), the president’s eldest son, kisses his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle (right), before addressing the rally on WednesdayDonald Trump Jr., claimed there were 100,000 people there but images showed far fewer and he bashed elected Republicans who have refused to go along with his father's claims of frau+55

  • Donald Trump Jr., claimed there were 100,000 people there but images showed far fewer and he bashed elected Republicans who have refused to go along with his father’s claims of frauGiuliani threatens to havea ‘trial by combat’ over election results

Trump also complained about the Supreme Court, which failed to take up a Texas lawsuit he sought to join, and even his former attorney general Bill Barr, who said before leaving his post there wasn’t sufficient fraud to change the outcome.

‘I’m not happy with the Supreme Court. They look to rule against me. I picked three people. I fought like hell for one in particular,’ Trump inveighed.

‘You know I read a story in one of the newspapers recently, how I control the three Supreme Court Justices. I control them. They’re puppets. I read it about Bill Barr – that he’s my personal attorney, that he’ll do anything for me.

‘But he denied pulling Barr’s strings’And I said, you know, it really is genius, because what they do is that, and it makes it really impossible for them to ever give you a victory, because all of a sudden Bill Barr changed if you hadn’t noticed. I like Bill Barr but he changed because he didn’t want to be considered my personal attorney, and the Supreme Court. They ruled against me so much you know why? Because the story is, I haven’t spoken to any of them. Any since virtually they got in, but the story is that they’re my puppet, right, that they’re puppets. And now that the only way they can get out of that – because they hate that it’s not good on the social circuit. And the only way they get out is to rule against Trump. So let’s rule against Trump and they do.’

‘You know I read a story in one of the newspapers recently, how I control the three Supreme Court Justices. I control them. They’re puppets. I read it about Bill Barr – that he’s my personal attorney, that he’ll do anything for me.’

But he denied pulling Barr’s strings’And I said, you know, it really is genius, because what they do is that, and it makes it really impossible for them to ever give you a victory, because all of a sudden Bill Barr changed if you hadn’t noticed. I like Bill Barr but he changed because he didn’t want to be considered my personal attorney, and the Supreme Court. They ruled against me so much you know why? Because the story is, I haven’t spoken to any of them. Any since virtually they got in, but the story is that they’re my puppet, right, that they’re puppets. And now that the only way they can get out of that – because they hate that it’s not good on the social circuit. And the only way they get out is to rule against Trump. So let’s rule against Trump and they do.’

Giuliani said, ‘If we’re wrong we will be made fools of, but if we’re right a lot of them will go to jail. Let’s have trial by combat,’ he said, without explaining exactly what he meant by combat.

‘I’m willing to stake my reputation, the president is willing to stake his reputation on the fact that we’re going to find criminality there,’ said the former New York mayor. Trump and his allies have suffered dozens of losses in state and federal courts with suits charging election fraud.

He spoke to thousands of cheering supporters on the Ellipse south of the White House. A permit was for 30,000 people.

The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., claimed there were 100,000 people there but images showed far fewer.

He bashed elected Republicans who have refused to go along with his father’s claims of fraud.

‘The people who did nothing to stop the steal — this gathering should send a message to them. This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party. This is the Republican Party that will put America first,’ he said.

His girlfriend, former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, also spoke.Eric Trump (right), the president's son, and his wife, Lara Trump, raise their fists in front of thousands of supporters near the White House on WednesdayEric Trump (right), the president’s son, and his wife, Lara Trump, raise their fists in front of thousands of supporters near the White House on WednesdayA militia-like group is seen making their way to Trump's rally on Wednesday morningA militia-like group is seen making their way to Trump’s rally on Wednesday morning Trump supporters gather near the White House and watch the rally on a big screen set up nearbyTrump supporters gather near the White House and watch the rally on a big screen set up nearbyA woman is seen holding a sign that reads 'Trump is the party' as the president's supporters gather on the Washington Monument groundsA woman is seen holding a sign that reads ‘Trump is the party’ as the president’s supporters gather on the Washington Monument grounds Trump supporters braved cold temperatures in Washington, DC, on Wednesday hours before the start of planned demonstrationsTrump supporters braved cold temperatures in Washington, DC, on Wednesday hours before the start of planned demonstrations

‘Our Vice President has several options under the U.S. Constitution. He can decertify the results or send them back to the states for change and certification. 

‘He can also decertify the illegal and corrupt results and send them to the House of Representatives for the one vote for one state tabulation.’

Significantly, however, the statement was not signed by Pence – and the legal claims Trump made appeared to be in line with plans outlined by Rudy Giuliani, not the Senate Parliamentarian who has advised Pence that his powers are limited to confirming the Electoral College votes read out on the floor of Congress.

Trump also tweeted ‘big news from Pennsylvania’ with a copy of a letter sent by Republican state lawmakers to Mitch McConnell and the Republican minority leader in the House asking for certification to be ‘delayed.’

The lawmakers claimed that the election outcome should be put off until after the Supreme Court has considered a Republican challenge to how Pennsylvania’s voting was run – which the justices have scheduled no date to hear, and asked for responses on January 22, after Trump leaves office. 

The letter repeats claims about the election which have been dismissed by state and federal courts repeatedly. 

That Trump tweeted it shows his level of desperate clutching at straws with Congress all but certain to torpedo his bid to overturn the election as early as Wednesday. 

Trump had first wanted Republicans to vote to reject electors from swing states, but a majority of GOP senators have made clear they will not go along with that, making it dead on arrival.

His next attempt is to claim Pence has powers to simply reject votes himself, a claim advanced by Rudy Giuliani and other fringe lawyers but dismissed by constitutional experts as absurd.

Pence was himself reported to have told Trump Tuesday that he was wrong.

He delivered the bad news over lunch, the New York Times reported, sugaring the pill by suggesting he could in some way acknowledge Trump’s discredited claims when he presides over the Senate. 

Ahead of the traditionally ceremonial event, President Donald Trump had escalated his pressure campaign on Pence to help him overturn the election results and spend another four years in the White House.

‘The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,’ the president tweeted on Tuesday morning, wrongly stating what Pence can do when he is in the presiding chair.

But shortly after when the two met for their regular lunch, Pence delivered the bad news that he could not. 

The New York Times reported that Pence also told Trump to lighten the blow that he would keep ‘studying the issue’ until the joint session begins at 1pm Wednesday.

In fact Pence spent hours this week with the Senate Parliamentarian, who advises senators and the vice president on the rules when they are on the floor of the Senate – or in Pence’s unique case, presiding over the joint session certifying the election. Truth to power: Donald Trump demanded publicly Monday night at his rally in Georgia and then on Twitter that the vice president aid his campaign to overturn the election. Pence told him Tuesday he could notDesperation move: Trump's extraordinary plan to overturn the election through Mike Pence is a final attempt to stop Joe Biden's victory being confirmed+55

  • Desperation move: Trump’s extraordinary plan to overturn the election through Mike Pence is a final attempt to stop Joe Biden’s victory being confirmed

If a member of the House and Senate both object to one of the state’s slates of electors, the two chambers split to debate the objection for two hours – with Pence presiding over the Senate.

That is when he could offer some ‘acknowledgment’ of Trump’s claims about fraud to ameliorate both the blow to his boss, and the potential for the president to turn on his ultra-loyal deputy in the dying days of the administration, and beyond. 

Pence is said to be particularly concerned that his certification of Biden’s victory could be weaponized against him on social media.

His delivery of bad news to Trump came after a lawsuit brought by Louis Gohmert, an ultra-loyalist congressman, which demanded that federal courts say Pence could disqualify electoral college votes was dismissed rapidly by a judge and an appeals court. 

That legal move would have offered Pence some cover that he could point to judges as having ruled out the possibility that he could disqualify voters – which no vice president had ever done and which constitutional experts had said was simply legally impossible.

But an ‘acknowledgment’ of Trump’s claims represents a Pyrrhic victory for the president – with Republican senators dealing his campaign to have them vote against approving swing states’ votes a series of blows Tuesday, as more and more said they would not get behind it.Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina+55

Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma

Senators Tim Scott and Jim Inhofe became the latest GOP lawmakers to risk the wrath of Trump with their decision to back Biden – at least 23 Republican senators will vote to certify Biden’s election win