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A day after violence, Trump says he will focus on 'smooth, orderly, seamless' transition

U.S. President Donald Trump   | Photo Credit: AP

A day after U.S. President Donald Trump’s supporters, charged by listening to their leader’s words at a Washington DC rally, stormed the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Trump condemned the violence and acknowledged that a new administration would be sworn in on January 20 . Mr. Trump’s remarks were made in a video released on his Twitter account, which was earlier suspended to prevent the President from inciting further violence.

“Like all Americans I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem,” Mr. Trump said. Five people died as a result of the attack on the Capitol including one police officer.

“The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy,” Mr. Trump said as calls for removing him via impeachment or the U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment grew louder. Several prominent GOP lawmakers had criticized Wednesday’s violence and in the aftermath more administration officials handed in their resignation.

Mr. Trump addressed the rioters in his video message, saying they did not represent the country.

“To those who broke the law, you will pay,” he said. This was in sharp contrast to Wednesday, when Mr. Trump had called the rioters “very special” in another video message in which he also asked them to retreat. In a tweet he had called the rioters “great patriots” even as some of them were inside the Capitol.

Mr. Trump said that while emotions were high following an “intense election” , tempers “must be cooled” now.

“ We must get on with the business of America,” he said. Mr. Trump has consistently claimed that the elections were fraudulent and he – and not Democratic candidate Joe Biden – was the actual winner of the contest without providing adequate evidence to back up his claims.

“Now Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation,” Mr. Trump said without mentioning Mr Biden by name or offering congratulations, as is the norm.

Mr Trump, who has over the years floated the idea of being ‘President for life’, said in his video message that his “only goal” was to ensure the integrity of the election.

“I continue to strongly believe that we must reform our election laws to verify the identify and eligibility of all voters,” he said. Democrats and civil rights activists have accused Republicans of wanting to disenfranchise minorities by making it harder for them to vote or otherwise invalidating their ballots.

“Let me be clear: The violence we saw yesterday at our nation's Capitol was appalling, reprehensible, and antithetical to the American way,” Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in the press briefing room on Thursday evening.

Mr. Trump’s comments got applause from some of his allies on Capitol Hill, including Lindsey Graham, a Senator from South Carolina, who had said “enough is enough” when reacting to the violence on Wednesday. Yet Mr. Graham, was one of several GOP lawmakers who tacitly or explicitly encouraged Mr. Trump’s contestation of the election results without an adequate evidentiary basis. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had accused Mr. Graham of pressuring him to not count legally cast votes in the State in November , after Mr. Biden won Georgia.

“President @realDonaldTrump’s statement tonight urging the country to move forward and heal was much-needed and hit the mark. Well done, Mr. President,” Mr. Graham tweeted shortly after the video was released.

Trump may be charged

Dozens involved in the attack have been arrested and charged (examples of charges include unlawful entering public property, possessing a military style automatic weapon).

Mr. Trump’s role in the violence is also being looked at by the Justice Department.

“We are looking at all actors, not only the people who went into the building,” U.S. attorney Michael Sherwin told reporters in response to a question on whether investigators were looking into the president’s role in Wednesday’s chaos.

“Yesterday, the President of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol.

Pelosi calls for Trump’s removal

Ms Pelosi said she was joining Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in calling for Vice President to remove Mr Trump from office by invoking the 25th Amendment. If this fails, the Congress “may be prepared to move forward with impeachment, “ she said.

“While it’s only 13 days left [ for Mr Trump to leave office], any day can be a horror show for America,” she said. A group of Democrats began circulating articles of impeachment. Mr Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives just over a year ago but was acquitted at his Senate trial.

It is far from clear whether either plan to remove the president from office will gain sufficient traction at this point. Mr Pence is reportedly against invoking the 25th Amendment. However, at least two Republican leaders, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Representative Adam Kinzinger, have openly come out in support of it.

More officials resign

On Thursday, with just over 12 days left for the end of the administration, a growing number of officials sought to distance themselves from Mr Trump. At least three White House officials had resigned on Wednesday, shortly after the attack. Thursday’s list included two cabinet level officials: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao ( who is married to outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Former Chief of Staff and Special Envoy to Northern Ireland Mick Mulvaney also resigned.

“There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me,” said Ms Devos, whose resignation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Ms Devos – a Trump loyalist and controversial Education Secretary herself - had issued a statement condemning the violence on Wednesday.

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten reacted to Ms DeVos’s resignation with a short statement : “Good Riddance.”

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 3:30:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/trump-condemns-capitol-riot-concedes-to-biden/article33525721.ece

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