Electoral College Ballots Were Safely Removed from Senate Floor Before Capitol Evacuated, Senator Says

As lawmakers were evacuated from the Senate floor on Wednesday when rioters stormed the building, quick-thinking staff grabbed the electoral college ballots, saving them from possible destruction.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) shared a photo on Twitter of several boxes of the ballots that had been taken to safety.

"Electoral college ballots rescued from the Senate floor. If our capable floor staff hadn’t grabbed them, they would have been burned by the mob," Merkley wrote along with the photo.

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) told CBS News the same thing, saying that a "quick-thinking" aide grabbed copies of Electoral College certificates.

"We have them with us," she said, adding that they will "be able to proceed as long as [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] calls us back into session."

Trump-supporting rioters stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday as lawmakers were counting the certified ballots to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's win. The mob forced lawmakers into hiding and caused the the joint session of Congress to be temporarily suspended.

The mob was one of violence: one woman was fatally shot, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson confirmed to the New York Times, and rioters were seen breaking windows of the Capitol building. There were also reports of tear gas being released in the rotunda, and photos captured people scaling the walls.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers denounced Trump and his supporters throughout the day on Wednesday, and Duckworth insisted on Twitter that she "will not yield to those who seek to harm our democracy."

The National Guard was called in amid the chaos and arrived Wednesday evening, and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a curfew beginning at 6 p.m.

Biden issued a condemnation of the violence, saying in a speech that "our democracy is under unprecedented assault unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times."

"An assault in the citadel of liberty, the capital itself," Biden said. "An assault on the people’s representatives and the Capitol Hill Police sworn to protect them. An assault on the rule of law like few times we’ve ever seen it. An assault on the most sacred of American undertakings, the doing of people’s business."

"Let me be very clear, the scenes at the Captiol do not reflect the true America," the president-elect continued. "What we’re seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent, it’s chaos.”

Biden also called for Trump to "demand an end to this siege."

Shortly after Biden's speech, Trump tweeted a video to the rioters, saying "we love you, you're very special," and doubling down down on the baseless claims that the election was "stolen from us" in the clip before adding "we have to have peace, so go home." (The video has been removed or restricted from social channels including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, due to "risk of violence.")

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