US President-elect Joe Biden says "democracy prevailed" as electors nationwide cast votes affirming his victory in last month's election, saying the country's governing principles were "pushed, tested, threatened" but did not crumble.
In a speech from his long-time home of Wilmington, Delaware, Biden aimed to guide Americans past the tumult of the campaign and President Donald Trump's refusal to accept defeat.
"If anyone didn't know it before, we know it now. What beats deep in the hearts of the American people is this: Democracy," Biden said.
"The right to be heard. To have your vote counted. To choose the leaders of this nation. To govern ourselves."
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After garnering a record of more than 81 million votes, Biden is still trying to build momentum as he prepares to assume the US Presidency on January 20. That's been complicated by Trump refusing to concede and has instead pursued baseless legal challenges that have been roundly rejected by judges across the political spectrum, including the justices at the Supreme Court.
Though Trump's actions have threatened core democratic norms, including the peaceful transfer of power, Biden argued that America's system of government remains intact."In America, politicians don't take power — the people grant it to them," Biden said.
Biden pledged to be "a president for all Americans" who will "work just as hard for those of you who didn't vote for me, as I will for those who did".
Whether his message of unity will have any effect remains to be seen. Top Republicans have largely refused to recognise Biden as the incoming president and are unlikely to give him any of the traditional honeymoon period.
However, in the aftermath of the Electoral College affirming Biden's win, a number of Republicans are beginning to change their tune.
"At some point you have to face the music," said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking GOP leader. "Once the Electoral College settles the issue today, it's time for everybody to move on."
Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, the chairman of the inaugural committee, said the panel will now "deal with Vice President Biden as the president-elect."
Texas GOP Senator John Cornyn said barring further legal challenges it appears Biden will be president. "That's sort of the nature of these elections. You got to have a winner. You got to have a loser," Cornyn said, adding that once Trump's legal arguments are exhausted, "Joe Biden's on a path to be president of the United States."
After losing dozens of legal challenges on the state and federal level, Trump is expected to push forward with new litigation this week. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani says he expects five more lawsuits at the state level.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is set to hold a hearing this week on election "irregularities". Johnson has questioned why Congress wasn't informed that the taxes of Biden's son Hunter were under federal investigation during Trump's impeachment trial last year.
The President was acquitted in a Senate trial that centred on Trump's dealings with Ukraine's president and on whether he abused his office by seeking an investigation into the Bidens. Hunter Biden served on the board of directors of a Ukrainian energy company.
The younger Biden said in a statement last week that he just recently learned that he was under investigation. He also said he committed no wrongdoing.
Biden's deputy chief of staff, Jen O'Malley Dillon, downplayed the notion that the investigation could hamper Biden's ability to pursue his agenda.
"The President-elect himself has said this is not about his family or Donald Trump's family," she said.
"It is about the American people's families. And I think we're going to continue to stay focused on the issues that are impacting their daily lives."
The results of the Electoral College will be sent to Washington DC and formally counted in a joint session of Congress on January 6.