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Rabu, 06 Januari 2021

Georgia run-offs LIVE updates: Democrats on brink of Senate control; Joe Biden's US election win to be ratified; Pence rejects Trump's pleas - The Sydney Morning Herald

Summary

  • Democrats are within reach of seizing control of the US Senate after Democrat Raphael Warnock narrowly defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler in the Senate run-off in Georgia.
  • In the other run-off contest, Democrat Jon Ossoff narrowly leads Republican Senator David Perdue.
  • If both Warnock and Ossoff win, the Senate will be tied 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris able to cast a tie-breaking vote.
  • The US Congress is meeting to certify Joe Biden's victory in the November election, with more than 100 Republican congress members vowing to object to the results in several states.
  • President Donald Trump has addressed thousands of his supporters at a rally in Washington DC, falsely claiming that he won the presidential election. 
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Ossoff holds narrow lead over Perdue in second Georgia race

Georgia’s other run-off election pits Republican Senator David Perdue, a 71-year-old former business executive who held his Senate seat until his term expired on Sunday, against Democrat Jon Ossoff, a former congressional aide and journalist. At just 33 years old, Ossoff would be the Senate’s youngest member.

Ossoff has a narrow lead, but it is too early to call a winner.

With 98 per cent of votes in and counting mostly stopped overnight, Ossoff led Perdue by more than 16,000 votes, or 0.4 percentage points, just shy of the state's 0.5 per cent threshold to avoid a recount.

Georgia senate candidates Jon Ossoff, left, and David Perdue.

Georgia senate candidates Jon Ossoff, left, and David Perdue.

Under Georgia law, a trailing candidate may request a recount when the margin of an election is less than or equal to 0.5 percentage points.

If Ossoff wins, Democrats will have complete control of Congress, strengthening President-elect Joe Biden’s standing as he prepares to take office on January 20.

Winning both contests would give Democrats control of the Senate, creating a 50-50 split and giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote once she and Biden take office on January 20. The party already has a narrow majority in the US House of Representatives.

If Republicans hold the second seat, they would effectively wield veto power over Biden's political and judicial appointees as well as many of his legislative initiatives in areas such as economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, healthcare and criminal justice.

Latest updates

US Capitol locked down due to protesters

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Capitol locked down Wednesday with lawmakers inside as violent clashes broke out between supporters of President Donald Trump and police.

An announcement was played inside the Capitol as lawmakers were meeting and expected to vote to affirm Joe Biden's victory.

Due to an “external security threat,” no one could enter or exit the Capitol complex, the recording said. Both chambers abruptly went into recess.

The skirmishes occurred outside in the very spot where president-elect Biden will be inaugurated in just two weeks. Protesters tore down metal barricades at the bottom of the Capitol’s steps and were met by officers in riot gear.

AP

Capitol Building in lockdown, People in congressional offices told to 'shelter in place'

CNN is reporting the Capitol Building has been put in lockdown with people not allowed to leave or enter.

Some members of congress and media members are tweeting to say they have been told to 'shelter in place' at their offices after reports some protesters, reportedly in over 100, have broken through barriers.

CNN's national security correspondent Alex Marquardt said tear gas has been deployed in some parts near the Capitol Building, he is also reporting not seeing much of a police presence.

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Good morning all

By Roy Ward

G'day everyone. It's Roy Ward and I'll be taking over from Megan Levy who has done a typically outstanding job keeping everyone up to speed this morning on this Georgia senate run-off and the joint session of the congress and senate to count the election vote.

Debate continues on the Senate floor as I make this post while the final votes are being counted in Georgia with both Democrat candidates in the lead.

As always, please feel free to leave a comment on the blog and please enjoy the coverage to come this morning.

Trump supporters try to push past police lines

As Congress listened to McConnell repudiate Trump, some of the President's supporters tried to push past the police lines set up on the steps of the Capitol building, where the Electoral College votes are being certified.

In footage provided on Twitter by The New York Times' reporter Mike Baker, furious men with loudhailers screaming "traitor" try to rip open the barricades. This was shortly after Trump called on his supporters to march towards the Capitol.

US Capitol Police has evacuated two buildings on the Hill, the Madison Library and the Cannon House Office Building, as hundreds of protesters head towards the Capitol.

McConnell says overruling election would 'damage our republic forever'

In an emotional speech to the joint session of Congress, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said overruling the presidential election would "damage our republic forever".

“I’ve served 36 years in the Senate – this will be the most important vote I’ve ever cast,” McConnell said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.Credit:Bloomberg

McConnell noted that he supported US President Donald Trump and his bid to contest election results in the courts.

“But, my colleagues, nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale – the massive scale – that would have tipped the entire election,” he said.

“Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.

“Voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken – they’ve all spoken,” McConnell said. “If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.”

Pence defies Trump's demand to discard votes

Vice-President Mike Pence is defying President Donald Trump, saying he does not have the unilateral ability to discard electoral votes that will make Joe Biden president on January 20.

Pence, in a statement issued minutes before he was to begin presiding over a joint session of Congress to count electoral votes, said: “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.”

Vice-President Mike Pence officiates as the joint session of Congress.

Vice-President Mike Pence officiates as the joint session of Congress.Credit:AP

Trump has pressured his Vice-President to toss electors from battleground states that voted for Biden during the session.

“If Mike Pence does the right thing we win the election,” Trump told thousands of supporters who rallied on near the White House, an hour before the count in Congress was to begin. Pence did not attend the event.

Pence has no unilateral power under the Constitution and congressional rules that govern the count. It is up to the House and Senate to voice objections, and states’ electors were chosen in accordance with state law, not fraudulently.

In his letter, Pence said that politicians had the right to challenge votes but that he was not going to initiate the objection.

“Some believe that as Vice President, I should be able to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally,” he said. “Others believe that electoral votes should never be challenged in a Joint Session of Congress. After a careful study of our Constitution, our laws and our history I believe neither view is correct.”

You can read Pence's statement here:

At 1pm local time (5am AEDT), Pence began to open the certificates of the electoral votes from each state and present them to the appointed “tellers” from the House and Senate in alphabetical order.

You can watch the Washington Post's livestream of the joint session of Congress below:

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Biden says Georgia sends a 'resounding message'

President-elect Joe Biden is heralding a Democratic victory in at least one of Georgia’s two US Senate run-offs as part of "a resounding message".

Biden in a statement on Wednesday local time (Thursday AEDT) congratulated Reverend Raphael Warnock on his “groundbreaking win” over Republican Kelly Loeffler, noting he was “hopeful” that fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff would also win his race.

Biden, the first Democrat in decades to win Georgia’s electoral votes, campaigned several times for the Senate candidates, whose performances affect his legislative agenda’s success. Ossoff’s victory would mean a 50-50 Senate split, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as a tie-breaking vote.

Ossoff held a small lead over Republican David Perdue as of Wednesday morning, though it was too early to call the race. Under Georgia law, a trailing candidate may request a recount when the margin of an election is less than or equal to 0.5 percentage points.

President-elect Joe Biden, centre, campaigns for Raphael Warnock, right, and Jon Ossoff, left, earlier this week.

President-elect Joe Biden, centre, campaigns for Raphael Warnock, right, and Jon Ossoff, left, earlier this week.Credit:AP

'We will never give up,' Trump tells supporters at rally

Outgoing US President Donald Trump has addressed thousands of his supporters at a rally in Washington DC as Congress prepares to meet to confirm Joe Biden's victory in November's presidential election.

Trump, who has spent much of his time since November in a failed effort to reverse his defeat, falsely said he won the election as he spoke on an outdoor stage framing the White House.

US President Donald Trump addresses his supporters outside the White House.

US President Donald Trump addresses his supporters outside the White House.Credit:AP

“We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved,” Trump said, repeating the groundless conspiracy theories that have consumed his final days in office.

“We won this election, and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election.”

Crowds gathered at the "Save America March" wore red baseball caps and cheered as Trump spoke.

The President also continued to pile pressure on Vice-President Pence to block the congressional count of the Electoral College votes, set to begin at 1pm local time (5am AEDT). The Constitution does not give the vice-president that power.

“I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” Trump said. “All Vice-President Pence has to do is recertify, and we become president and you are the happiest people.”

With Reuters

Giuliani calls for 'trial by combat' at DC rally

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has addressed the large crowd gathered outside the White House and urged the presidential election to be settled by "trial by combat".

Giuliani has spent much of the past few months promoting false allegations of widespread voter fraud in November's presidential election. He has been a staunch supporter of Trump, who spent much of his election-eve rally in Georgia this week falsely claiming he had won the presidential election in a "landslide".

At Wednesday's rally, Giuliani falsely claimed that Vice-President Mike Pence had the power to unilaterally reject the electoral vote tally, even though Pence has no such authority.

He said if the President and his team were wrong, “we will be made fools of”.

“But if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail,” he said, to cheers from the crowd.

“So, let’s have trial by combat,” Giuliani said. “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. Is Joe Biden willing to stake his reputation that there’s no crime there?”

Some immediately condemned the violent imagery of his comments.

Trump is expected to address the rally in the coming hours.

'BIG CROWDS!': Trump supporters protest in Washington DC

Thousands of supporters of US President Donald Trump, including members of far-right groups, have gathered in Washington DC to protest a meeting of Congress to certify Joe Biden's victory in November's presidential election.

Trump, who lost the election, promised to address the protesters at the Ellipse, a park near the White House.

Trump supporters gather on the Washington Monument on Wednesday.

Trump supporters gather on the Washington Monument on Wednesday.Credit:AP

"BIG CROWDS!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

One of his sons, Eric Trump, warmed up the flag-waving crowds with unfounded conspiracy theories.

"Is there any person here that actually thinks that Joe Biden won this election?" Eric Trump said to shouts of "No."

Eric Trump speaks at the rally in Washington.

Eric Trump speaks at the rally in Washington.Credit:AP

The states have all certified that Biden, a Democrat, won the election by 306 Electoral College votes to Trump's 232, and Trump's challenges to Biden's victory have floundered in courts across the country.

"It doesn't matter," Eric Trump said. "They can lie; they can cheat; they can steal. My father has started a movement and this movement will never, ever die."

Congress was due to certify Biden's victory on Wednesday. Many of Trump's fellow Republicans have promised a stonewalling effort that could stretch proceedings past midnight but was almost certain to fail.

Crowd control largely fell to the Metropolitan Police Department, which mobilised all 3750 officers, the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the US Secret Service, and more than 300 members of the city’s National Guard, according to Washington police chief Robert Contee and other officials.

Police have told protesters not to bring their guns to Washington, which has some of the nation's strictest gun laws and bans the open carrying of firearms.

Reuters

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2021-01-06 19:06:00Z
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