United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump on Thursday pledged commitment to orderly transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden even as he repeated the false claims about the November 3, 2020 election.
The claim triggered Wednesday’s assault on Capitol Building by a mob of his supporters to protest U.S. Congress’ affirmation of Biden’s Electoral College win.
“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,” Trump said in the statement released overnight after Congress certified his defeat. He went on: “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.”
Trump, who has repeatedly refused to concede the election, on Wednesday incited on his supporters who later breached the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop lawmakers from counting the electoral votes cast in the 2020 presidential election.
“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. And we’re gonna cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we’re probably not going to be cheering, so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong,” Trump said, addressing his supporters who gathered maskless on the ellipse near the White House Wednesday morning.
After a speech filled with lies and misrepresentations that incensed the crowd, Trump returned to the White House to watch a violent crescendo to his constant spreading of misinformation about the electoral process. The mob broke into the Capitol, stormed the House of Representatives and Senate floor. Trump supporters could be seen lounging in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.
A woman was shot and killed in the chaos. Police have yet to release more details about her death. Three others, who had medical emergencies, later died, according to the police. Republicans and Democrats condemned the rioters for entering the country’s legislative chambers and destroying federal property. Several lawmakers blamed the breach on Trump.
The riot led to at least four resignations from the Trump administration and some in Trump’s cabinet to hold preliminary talks about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, according to a well-placed GOP source. Biden called on Trump to appear on national television “to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege”.
He came under mounting pressure yesterday, facing calls to resign or for Vice President Mike Pence to undertake extraordinary constitutional moves to oust him from office.
Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, called for Pence and the Trump cabinet to invoke the 25th amendment, which provides an avenue for the president to be removed. Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a staunch Trump critic, also called for Trump’s removal.
Resignations continued to mount yesterday, including Trump’s former chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and the head of his council of economic advisers. In an apparent bid to quell the outcry, Trump issued a statement overnight committing to an “orderly transition”.
Schumer called for invoking the 25th amendment yesterday — and, barring that, said Congress should reconvene to impeach Trump.
“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection instigated by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer,” Schumer said.
Democrats also were circulating drafts of articles of impeachment.
Kinzinger said Trump “barely” denounced the violence. All indications are that the president has become unmoored, not just from his duty or even his oath but from reality itself,” he said.
Former Republican Congressman Justin Amash also said Trump should quit or be removed.
Financial markets have largely shrugged off the turmoil in Washington, with investors focused on the prospect for a major new round of Covid-19 relief spending after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
U.S. stocks pared gains Wednesday after news of the violence, and resumed their rally yesterday. The S&P 500 Index was up 1.3 per cent at 12:22 p.m. in New York, heading for a record close. Ten-year Treasury yields were at 1.08 per c ent and hit their highest since March.
Trump had no public events scheduled yesterday. He is set to spend the weekend at Camp David. But he remained frozen out by social media firms as Facebook Inc. announced that it was indefinitely extending its freeze of his accounts for at least two weeks.
The Department of Justice was set to announce charges yesterday against some participants in the mob, while police in Washington were moving forward with investigations of their own. Trump told the crowd he loved them and understood why they were protesting.
Former Attorney-General William Barr joined in criticising Trump, telling the Associated Press that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable”.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf called on “the president and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday,” but said he wouldn’t step down before inauguration on January 20.
The White House announced yesterday that it had pulled Wolf’s nomination to be confirmed as secretary.