Hours after rioters stormed the US Capitol building and disrupted proceedings, the legislature formally certified Joe Biden as the next US President today, while current US President Donald Trump released a statement promising an "orderly transition" in two weeks.
Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives successfully beat back Republican efforts to deny Biden the electoral votes needed to win, prompting loud cheers when the certification was announced.
Trump's statement pledged an "orderly transition" but suggested he would remain in frontline politics, amid speculation that he may run again in 2024.
"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," he said. "I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. 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!"
The certification came hours after at least four people were killed and over 50 arrested after a mob breached the US Capitol and forced lawmakers to evacuate the building. The flag-waving rioters had broken down barricades outside the Capitol and swarmed inside, rampaging through offices and onto the usually solemn legislative floors.
One Trump backer in jeans and a baseball cap was pictured propping a leg up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's desk, as throngs climbed onto risers set up for Biden's inauguration. Security forces fired tear gas in a four-hour operation to clear the Capitol.
Biden called the violence an "insurrection" and demanded that Trump immediately go on national television to tell the rioters to stand down.
"Our democracy's under unprecedented assault," Biden said in his home state of Delaware. "This is not dissent. It's disorder. It's chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now."
Trump soon afterward released a video in which he called on the mob to leave but repeated his unfounded claims of election fraud.
Historians said it was the first time that the Capitol had been taken over since 1814 when the British burned it during the War of 1812.
Congress rejected challenges to Biden's win in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Efforts were made to challenge the counts in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin, but after the mob violence Senate Republicans dropped objections to Biden's wins there, eliminating any need for debate.
Senator Mitt Romney, one of Trump's most vocal critics inside the Republican Party, pointedly said that the best way to respect voters "is to tell them the truth."
"Those who continue to support this dangerous gambit," Romney said, "will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy."
Former president Barack Obama called the violence "a moment of great dishonour and shame for our nation".
"But we'd be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise," Obama said, adding that it was "incited" by Trump, "who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election."
Former president George W. Bush also did not mince words, saying: "This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic - not our democratic republic".
Several news reports said Trump's cabinet was whispering about removing him as unfit for office under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution following yesterday's violence.