More than 24 hours after he incited a mob to attack the United States Capitol, Donald Trump urged an end to the violence and finally acknowledged that Joe Biden will be the next president, saying in a video statement that “a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20 ”and promising a smooth transfer of power.
The statement was posted on Twitter, one of the only social media platforms the president still has access to, after a day of silence following his unprecedented encouragement to rioters bent on the insurrection.
Hours later, Capitol Police confirmed that a police officer had been killed during Wednesday’s attack. A statement said Brian Sicknick was injured while physically interacting with protesters and an investigation into his death would be carried out.
Meanwhile, the top federal prosecutor in Washington DC said Trump’s remarks at a rally prior to the assault on the Capitol would be examined as part of the incident investigation.
When asked specifically about the role of the President, who told the crowd to head to the Capitol and said they should “fight like hell,” Acting US Attorney Michael R. Sherwin said: “We are looking at all the actors here, and anyone who has had a role, if the evidence fits the element of a crime, they will be charged. “
Trump’s latest video statement came amid growing calls for his resignation or removal, and as a growing list of administration figures, including Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, resigned. following the attack.
The president began the video with his first direct denunciation of the looting of the United States Capitol building, saying he was “outraged by the violence, anarchy and chaos.”
Trump also claimed that he had “immediately deployed the national guard and federal police to secure the building and drive out intruders.” Multiple media They have reported that it was Mike Pence, not Trump, who deployed the national guard, while Trump resisted the move.
The statement marked a sea change in the tone of the president, who has continued to stoke unrest and falsely claim that the elections had been stolen from him. While he falls short of openly admitting defeat, Trump’s statement is the closest he has ever come to a concession speech.
“My campaign vigorously sought all legal avenues to challenge the election results. My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote, ”Trump said, despite no evidence that the election was unsafe and assurances from his own attorney general that there was no widespread electoral fraud.
“Now, Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now is on ensuring a smooth, orderly and smooth transition of power. “
Trump concluded his brief remarks by calling for “healing and reconciliation” and saying that “tempers must calm down.” He included a final message for his fans, saying, “I know you are disappointed, but I also want you to know that our incredible journey is just beginning.”
Trump’s statement came as the threat of a second impeachment loomed and a growing cohort of lawmakers asked him to pay a price for the tumultuous scenes in Washington.
On Wednesday, Trump encouraged thousands of supporters to march toward the United States Capitol to protest the election results, whipping a mob that overran police officers and invaded the Capitol building, forcing members of the Congress to hide. Four people died, including a woman who was shot and killed by police and three people who died in medical emergencies.
Top Congressional Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, have called on Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s cabinet to use the U.S. Constitution to impeach Trump for “his incitement to insurrection.” ”.
The 25th Amendment allows a cabinet majority to remove a president from power if he or she cannot fulfill the duties of the office.
But Schumer and Pelosi said they have not yet received a response from Pence, and a Pence adviser told the Associated Press that the vice president, who would have to lead any such effort, was opposed to using the amendment.
If Pence does not act, Pelosi said she would likely reconvene the House to initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump for his role in Wednesday’s violence.
A handful of Republicans have also called for Trump’s impeachment, but the party’s leadership remains more cautious. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blamed “unhinged criminals” for the attack, but did not mention Trump.
Elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal, considered one of the leading voices in the Republican establishment, also called on Trump to leave office.
In an editorial on Thursday night, the newspaper asked the president to resign instead of facing impeachment or forced removal under the 25th Amendment.
“This was an assault on the constitutional process of transferring power after an election,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote of Trump’s actions on Wednesday. “It was also an assault on the legislature by an executive who swore to abide by the laws of the United States. This goes beyond simply refusing to admit defeat. In our opinion, it crosses a constitutional line that Trump has not previously crossed. It is indictable. “
The editorial boards of the New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today have made similar calls.
Several members of the Trump administration, including DeVos and Chao, who is married to McConnell, resigned as a symbolic gesture against the violence.
US Senate Sgt at Arms Michael Stenger, House Sergeant at Arms Paul D Irving, and US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund on Thursday resigned from in the wake of the unprecedented security breach of the Capitol, which has sparked outrage and scrutiny.
Speaking in Delaware on Thursday, Joe Biden called those who broke into the Capitol building “domestic terrorists.” Speaking just hours after Congress certified him as the winner of the 2020 election, the president-elect called the events of the previous afternoon “one of the darkest days in our nation’s history.”
“They weren’t protesters, don’t you dare call them protesters,” Biden said. “They were an unbridled mob. Insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists. It’s that basic. It’s that easy.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism