Trump finally promises transition as calls mount to remove him

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump for the first time promised a smooth transition to Joe Biden and acknowledged his presidency was ending as calls grew for his removal from office for encouraging a mob attack on the US Capitol.

In a video released on Twitter after a temporary suspension, Trump condemned rioters who rampaged in his name through a congressional session that certified Biden’s victory, although he did not go so far as to congratulate or even say the name of his successor.

“This moment calls for healing and reconciliation,” said Trump, in a shift of tone a day after a grievance-fueled outdoor rally in which he encouraged thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol.

“We have just been through an intense election and emotions are high, but now tempers must be cooled and calm restored,” said Trump, standing before a lectern with the presidential seal. “A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” he said.

“Serving as your president has been the honor of my lifetime,” Trump said, without explicitly conceding and insisting he was “fighting to defend American democracy.”

Trump’s turnaround came as aides including two cabinet member resigned and the two top Democrats in Congress urged his immediate removal, fearing the damage he can still inflict in his less than two weeks left in the world’s most powerful job.

Biden declined to address demands for Trump’s removal but accused him of an “all-out assault on the institutions of our democracy.”

“Yesterday, in my view, was one of the darkest days in the history of our nation,” Biden said at an event to introduce his nominee for attorney general, respected judge Merrick Garland, who if confirmed will quickly need to decide whether to prosecute Trump.

“They weren’t protesters,” Biden said. “They were a riotous mob, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists.” “I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming but that isn’t true,” Biden said. “We could see it coming.”

“The past four years, we’ve had a president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done,” he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer urged Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows a majority of the cabinet to remove a president deemed unable to discharge his duties.

They threatened otherwise to impeach Trump for an unprecedented second time in hopes that the Senate, where Democrats are projected to have won control after runoff elections in Georgia, will now oust him. “This is an emergency of the highest magnitude,” Pelosi said, describing Trump as a “very dangerous person.”

“By inciting sedition, as he did yesterday, he must be removed from office,” she said. “While it’s only 13 days left, any day can be a horror show for America.

Pence rejected Trump’s vocal pressure to somehow intervene in Tuesday’s session, which has taken place every four years for more than two centuries without drama. Invoking the amendment would make Pence the acting president for the remaining two weeks the administration has in office.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and is one of Trump’s longest-serving cabinet members, announced she would resign over the “entirely avoidable” violence at the Capitol.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos became the second cabinet member to quit, telling Trump in a letter that such “behavior was unconscionable for our country.”

Others who resigned included Mick Mulvaney, a former Trump chief of staff who is now US special envoy to Northern Ireland, and the deputy national advisor, Matt Pottinger. Steven Sund, the chief of the 2,300-strong Capitol Police, handed in his resignation and lawmakers vowed a thorough investigation on security lapses.



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