Republicans finally accept the reality - Joe Biden is the President

Video Report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore

This is a big moment in American politics. Yes, it’s spectacularly belated. It may be grudging.But the Republican leader of the US Senate, Mitch McConnell, has now acknowledged that Joe Biden will be America’s 46th president.

This breaks the dam. It provides cover for all Republicans to now acknowledge that Donald Trump lost the election. 

In fact, without this statement by McConnell, the Republican Party would have been in the humiliating position of being behind even President Putin in acknowledging Biden’s victory. It follows the Electoral College confirming what we already knew beyond doubt: Joe Biden will be America’s next President.

Across all 50 states, the 538 delegates of the Electoral College voted exactly in line with the outcome of November 3. There were no surprises and no rogue votes.

When California's Electors voted, Biden soared over the 270 tally that he needed to be anointed the next president.

Only two dates of note remain ahead of us in this marathon process: January 6 when the result is formally put before Congress, and January 20 when Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th US President by the Chief Justice.

The President-elect last night used the opportunity to call once more for an end to the political warfare of this bitter and poisonous political season.

"We the people voted,” Mr Biden said.

“Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact. And so, now it is time to turn the page, as we’ve done throughout our history. To unite. To heal."

He added: “If anyone didn’t know it before, we know it now.

"What beats deep in the hearts of the American people is this: democracy.

"The right to be heard. To have your vote counted. To choose leaders of this nation. To govern ourselves.

"In America, politicians don’t take power — people grant power to them.”

The president, meanwhile, shows no sign of accepting the result.

He has continued to claim the election was stolen and has embraced every available conspiracy theory.

To add to the political drama, he announced via Twitter that his Attorney-General, Bill Barr, would be moving on and would be replaced for the final weeks of his presidency.

It's another chaotic development in an administration that has been in near constant turmoil from the very start.

Bill Barr has been in an impossible position.

Despite being a Trump loyalist, he had come under fierce pressure from the White House to denounce the election results as rigged.

Instead, Barr kept largely silence - hinting instead that there had been no obvious fraud.

That was enough to infuriate Trump, who has now dispensed with his services.

That's where we are with this presidency - even the last of the loyalists are being thrown under the bus.

That fact, as much as the Electoral College result, tells you we are indeed in the final days of the Trump era, whether the president accepts it or not.