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A joint session of Congress on Friday formally certified President-elect Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory, over the last-minute objections of several Democratic lawmakers who tried to contest the outcome – and were instructed by Vice President Biden, “It is over.”
The certification clears away any final hurdles for Trump’s road to the inauguration in two weeks.
Trump was certified as winning the White House race with 304 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 227. Mike Pence was certified as the next vice president.
But as with other formalities in this election that normally would proceed without much ado, Friday’s certification was marked by moments of drama.
Several Democratic lawmakers tried to sideline the proceedings, objecting to the validity of the vote on the basis of what they called “voter suppression,” Russian interference in the election, and other factors.
Each time, Biden, who was presiding, rapped the gavel and cut them off because they did not have the necessary support for their objection from a U.S. senator.
“It is over,” Biden instructed Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., one of several who tried to lodge an objection. The chamber broke out in applause.
Toward the end, several protesters also were escorted out of the House chambers.
The outcome already was assured, after all 538 electors met in their respective state capitals in December to cast their votes, giving Trump well over the 270 needed to win. Despite rumblings of a revolt, only two Republican electors -- both from Texas -- cast protest votes that day for someone other than Trump. Clinton lost four Democratic electors in Washington state and one in Hawaii.
Friday's vote count marked the last chance for Democrats and other anti-Trump forces to disrupt Trump's election. They technically were allowed to file objections, but needed a member of the House and Senate to jointly contest an individual state’s electoral ballots, in order to trigger a separate debate and vote.
None of the House Democrats objecting had a Senate co-sponsor.
The scene was reminiscent of 2001, when various members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) tried to challenge Florida’s electoral slate from the previous fall’s disputed election. Then-Vice President Gore repeatedly asked each CBC member if they had a Senate sponsor to jointly contest the slate. None did.
“I don’t care that it is not signed by a senator,” Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., famously proclaimed.
“The chair would advise that the rules do care,” Gore chastened Waters as he rejected her petition.
The response from Gore, who as the 2000 Democratic nominee was the person who stood to benefit from a successful challenge, triggered applause from congressional Republicans in the House chamber.
This year, the most Democrats could do was slow the process as they didn’t have the votes to overturn the outcome.
Trump won the election even though Clinton received nearly 2.9 million more votes. The Democratic nominee’s popular-vote victory, combined with post-election claims from the intelligence community that Moscow engaged in computer hacking to sway the election in favor of Trump, had fueled last month’s failed effort to stall Trump’s election in the Electoral College.
But Trump has cast doubt on those findings, while taking some final swipes at Clinton as he prepares for the inauguration.
He tweeted Friday morning, “Hillary and the Dems were never going to beat the PASSION of my voters. They saw what was happening in the last two weeks before the...... and knew they were in big trouble - which is why they cancelled their big fireworks at the last minute.THEY SAW A MOVEMENT LIKE NEVER BEFORE.”
The congressional certification comes as Trump has named nominees for most of his Cabinet positions and is filling out his White House staff.