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Supporters of President Donald Trump have breached the protective barricade around the US Capitol as the joint session of Congress convened to count electoral votes that would officially make Democrat Joe Biden the next president.

As Vice President Mike Pence opened the joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives in Washington, DC on Wednesday, protesters outside pressed against the police holding the perimeter fence on Capitol Hill.

Within minutes, police were in retreat and the protesters were storming the complex. 

“Thousands” of people were involved, and the police appeared unable to stop them.

Soldiers in uniforms and with weapons – presumably the DC National Guard that Mayor Muriel Bowser had requested earlier this week – could be seen in one of the videos.

Bearing US and Trump flags, the protesters gathered outside the westward-facing steps of the Capitol.

People working in the nearby congressional office buildings were told to evacuate “due to police activity.” 

Inside, a number of Republican lawmakers have said they would object to certifying election results from half a dozen states where Trump has alleged fraud and irregularities. Minutes before opening the joint session of Congress, however, Pence said he did not believe he had the authority to unilaterally throw out electoral votes, as some hoped he might do.

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