More than 24 hours after inciting a crowd to attack the U.S. Capitol, Donald Trump called for an end to the violence and finally acknowledged that Joe Biden would 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 after his unprecedented encouragement to rioters determined to the insurgency.
Hours later, Capitol Police confirmed that a policeman died in Wednesday’s attack. A statement says Brian Sicknick was injured while physically engaging with protesters.
Trump’s statement came amid growing calls for his resignation or impeachment, and as a growing list of senior figures in the administration – including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Secretary for transport, Elaine Chao – resigned following the attack.
The president began the video with his first direct denunciation of the ransacking of the US Capitol building, saying he was “outraged by the violence, lawlessness and chaos”.
Trump also claimed he had “immediately deployed National Guard and Federal law enforcement to secure the building and remove intruders”; although many Media reported that it was actually Mike Pence, and not Trump, who deployed the National Guard, as Trump resisted the measure.
The statement marked a brutal reversal of tone for the president, who continued to fuel unrest and falsely claim that the election was stolen from him. While he won’t openly admit defeat, Trump’s statement comes closest to a concession speech.
“My campaign vigorously pursued all legal avenues to challenge the election results. My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote, ”Trump said, despite the lack of evidence that the election was anything but safe, 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. I am now striving to ensure a smooth, orderly and transparent power transition. ”
Trump concluded his brief remarks by calling for “healing and reconciliation” and saying “spirits must be cooled.” He included a final message for his followers, saying, “I know you are disappointed, but I also want you to know that our incredible journey has only just begun.”
Trump’s statement came as the threat of a second indictment loomed and a growing cohort of lawmakers demanded that he pay the price for the tumultuous scenes in Washington.
Trump on Wednesday encouraged thousands of supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol to protest the election results, prompting a mob to invade police and overrun the Capitol building, forcing members of Congress into hiding. Four people died, including a woman who was shot dead by police and three people who died in medical emergencies.
Top Democrats in Congress – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer – called on Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s cabinet to use the US Constitution to impeach Trump for ” his incitement to insurrection ”.
The 25th Amendment allows a cabinet majority to remove a president from office if he is unable to perform his duties.
But Schumer and Pelosi said they have yet to receive a response from Pence, and a Pence adviser told The Associated Press that the vice president, who is expected to lead such an effort, is opposed to it. use of amendment.
If Pence does not act, Pelosi has indicated that she will likely summon the House again to begin 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 leadership remains more cautious. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed the attack on “deranged criminals” but did not mention Trump.
Elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal, considered a leading voice of the Republican establishment, also called on Trump to leave his office.
In a Thursday night editorial, the newspaper called on the president to step down rather than face impeachment or forced removal under the 25th Amendment.
“It was an attack on the constitutional process of transfer of power after an election,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote on Wednesday of Trump’s actions. “It was also an assault on the legislature by a sworn executive to uphold the laws of the United States. It goes beyond simply refusing to concede defeat. In our view, it crosses a constitutional line that Mr. Trump has not crossed before. It is impeccable. ”
The editorial boards of the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today have also made similar appeals.
Several members of the Trump administration, including DeVos and Chao, who is married to McConnell, have resigned as a symbolic gesture against violence.
U.S. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D Irving, and United States Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund all resigned Thursday following the Unprecedented security breach of the Capitol, which sparked outrage and scrutiny.
Speaking Thursday in Delaware, Joe Biden called those who stormed the Capitol as “national terrorists.” Speaking just hours after Congress declared him the winner of the 2020 election, the president-elect called the events of the previous afternoon “one of the darkest days in the history of our nation ”.
“They weren’t protesters – don’t you dare call them protesters,” Biden said. “It was an emotional crowd. Insurrectionists. National terrorists. It’s also basic. It’s that simple. ”