A day after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol taking over the senate chambers, the Republican leadership began distancing itself from the president as a flurry of resignations rocked the White House. Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership is calling to impeach the president for inciting the mob that attacked the Capitol building.
In an unprecedented assault on democracy in the US, thousands of supporters of outgoing President Trump stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday and clashed with police, resulting in four deaths and interrupting a constitutional process by Congress to certify the victory of Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the November 3 election.
In a new video message, Trump said "America is, and must always be a nation of law and order. Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem. I immediately deployed the national guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders."
A "Trump 2020" banner is carried as demonstrators swarm the U.S. Capitol building during a protest in Washington, D.C. (Bloomberg)
Trump finally concedes to Biden
Hours after the violence rocked Washington DC, Trump conceded defeat in the presidential elections held in November and said that a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. "Now Congress has certified the election results, a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensure a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation," he said during a brief address posted on his Twitter handle. "To the citizens of our country, serving as your President has been the honour of my lifetime, and to all of my wonderful supporters, I know you are disappointed but I also want you to know our incredible journey is only just beginning," he added.
"My campaign vigorously pursued every legal avenue to contest the election results. My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote, and so doing I was fighting to defend American democracy. I continue to strongly believe that we must reform our election laws to verify the identity and eligibility of all those voters and to ensure faith and confidence in all future elections," he remarked.
Workers reinforce security fencing around the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Bloomberg
A flurry of Republican resignation
Several Trump administration members resigned from their post following the violence, including US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews, chief of staff for First Lady Melania Trump, Stephanie Grisham, and White House social secretary Anna Cristina "Rickie" Niceta.
Betsy DeVos, Trump's Education Secretary on Thursday submitted her resignation after a pro-Trump insurrection at the US Capitol. Calling the rioters' behaviour "unconscionable" DeVos wrote in her resignation letter, "There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me," CNN reported. Meanwhil, US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said, "Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed. As I'm sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside. It has been the honour of a lifetime to serve the US Department of Transportation."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol. Bloomberg
Congress talks impeachment
Top Democratic leadership has urged Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution to remove President Donald Trump from office for his "incitement of insurrection", a day after his supporters attacked the US Capitol in a violent breach. The 25th Amendment allows for the president to be removed from office by the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet. The president's dangerous and seditious acts necessitate his immediate removal from office, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement on Thursday.
On Thursday, both Pelosi and Schumer at separate news conferences said they will move impeachment proceedings in the Congress if Trump was not removed from office through the 25th Amendment. In calling for this seditious act, the president has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people. I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment," Pelosi said.
Facebook Inc. Chief Executive OfficerMark Zuckerbergsaid that the current block on Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts will be extended indefinitely. (Bloomberg)
Social media blackout to continue for Trump
In an unprecedented move, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday that President Donald Trump's accounts on its popular social media platforms Facebook and Instagram would remain suspended until the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20. Announcing the decision, Zuckerberg said the risk of allowing President Trump to continue to use the platform during this period is "simply too great." Trump's account will be locked "for at least the next two weeks", he said.
Facebook earlier on Wednesday blocked the president's account from posting for 24 hours due to two policy violations. On Wednesday, Twitter also blocked Trump's account for 12 hours and removed three of his tweets including a video.