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The US Congress certified on Friday that Trump won the November presidential election, as last-gasp objections by Democratic lawmakers were swatted away by an irked Vice President Joe Biden. Trump will be officially sworn in January 20.
Inspite of his Electoral College victory, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has told all ambassadors who are political appointees of President Barack Obama to vacate their overseas posts by Inauguration Day, refusing to provide even brief grace periods for special cases.
Lawmakers held a ceremonial final count in the House of Representatives chamber that affirmed the votes cast last month by the members of the Electoral College chose the Republican property tycoon as the nation’s 45th president.
“Donald Trump of New York has received, for president of the United States, 304 votes,” while his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton received 227 votes, Biden declared to assembled lawmakers after the counting was complete.
Seven electors defied their states’ results and voted for other figures, but it did not affect the outcome.
Biden said the official count “shall be deemed sufficient declaration” for Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to take their oaths of office on January 20.
Vice President Joe Biden repeatedly told objecting congressman that their attempt to disrupt the usually staid moment that their objections were invalid because they did not have the signature of a United States senator. Biden, at times exasperated by the scene, at one point cautioned his fellow Democrats: “It is over.”
“There is no debate. There is no debate. There is no debate,” Biden repeated to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, one of the frequent objectors in the Capitol.
“The Electoral College results are in. Donald J. Trump will be the 45th president of the United States,” House Speaker Paul Ryan announced in a tweet shortly afterwards.
Trump finished with 304 electoral votes and Democrat Hillary Clinton got 227. There were seven protest votes for other candidates. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.
At least three protestors were swiftly removed by security when shouting during the certification. US Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki said they arrested two males and one female and says they are being processed at U.S. Capitol Police Headquarters. They will release more information on charges later today.
Leaving the chamber, Republican Sen. John Cornyn said he thought the protests were “kind of embarrassing.”
Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has told all ambassadors who are political appointees of President Barack Obama to vacate their overseas posts by Inauguration Day, refusing to provide even brief grace periods for special cases, several senior State Department officials and American diplomats said.
“Political” ambassadors often have close ties to the president or are major donors and almost always leave their post at the end of the term, while career ambassadors frequently remain in their posts.
In keeping with standard practices, the White House requested and received resignations from all politically-appointed chiefs of mission shortly after Election Day, several senior State Department officials said.
But, in a break with precedent to consider grace periods on a case-by-case basis, a subsequent State Department cable sent last month to all non-career ambassadors instructed them to finish their service by January 20 “without exceptions,” the sources said.
The move leaves the US without top envoys at key posts such as Britain, Germany, Canada, Japan and Saudi Arabia until President-elect Donald Trump nominates successors and they are confirmed, a process that could take months. In the meantime, the posts will be run by the highest-ranking career official until Trump nominates, and the Senate confirms, someone new.
The decision has also left diplomats scrambling to secure new visas, living arrangements and schools for their children.
Past incoming administrations from both parties have granted exceptions on a case-by-case basis for ambassadors requesting to remain at post for weeks or months.
The exceptions are generally granted as a courtesy to ambassadors with school-age children or who have unique family situations, but are also occasionally made to help with continuity as the incoming administration seeks to fill a large number of postings at home and overseas.
Secretary of State John Kerry said that it is a “perfectly normal request” to political ambassadors to leave their post, noting that “all political appointees serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States.”
The State Department estimates that roughly 70% of US ambassadors are career appointees. Those ambassadors were not asked to tender resignation letters.
>Courtesy CNN, Aljazeera
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