Members of Congress, police and current and former members of the Trump administration were responding Thursday to the events of the previous day, when pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol during a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building.
Congress returned later Wednesday after the Capitol was cleared by law enforcement and formally certified Joe Biden’s victory in November’s presidential election.
Here are the latest developments, including a pledge from President Donald Trump promising an “orderly transition” on Jan. 20.
The U.S. Capitol Police says an officer who was injured after responding to riots at the Capitol has died.
Officer Brian D. Sicknick died Thursday evening due to injuries sustained while on-duty, physically engaging with protesters at the U.S. Capitol, the statement said.
Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Wednesday as Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes to confirm Democrat Joe Biden won the election. Sicknick returned to his division office and collapsed, the report said. He was taken to a hospital and later died.
The death will be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Branch, the USCP, and federal law enforcement. Sicknick joined the Capitol police in 2008.
Democratic leaders of the House Appropriations Committee said the “tragic loss” of a Capitol police officer “should remind all of us of the bravery of the law enforcement officers who protected us, our colleagues, Congressional staff, the press corps and other essential workers” during the hourslong takeover of the Capitol by pro-Trump protesters.
Pelosi calls for Trump’s removal
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the removal of President Donald Trump from office after he encouraged protesters to march on the Capitol to dispute a legislative session taking place to formally approve state electoral college results confirming Joe Biden as the president-elect.
“The president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America,” she said of Trump in her weekly news conference.
She called on Vice-President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment, and said Democrats in Congress are prepared to act if he doesn’t, even though just under two weeks remain in Trump’s term. The amendment allows for the vice-president and a majority of the cabinet to declare the president unfit for office.
“While it’s only 13 days, every day can be a horror show,” she said.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer earlier in the day issued a similar call in a statement.
“If the vice-president and the cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president,” said Schumer.
WATCH | Assessing the likelihood of impeachment or 25th Amendment use:
The Republican leadership, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has not commented on the possibility of reconvening for that purpose.
Several Democrats in the House said they were preparing articles of impeachment against Trump. The president was previously impeached by the House almost one year ago for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in the Ukraine policy scandal, though he was acquitted in the Senate.
Trump has expressed interest in running for president again in 2024. According to the Constitution, “disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honour, trust or profit under the United States” is a possible penalty for an impeachable offence.
NEW: I am circulating Articles of Impeachment that <a href=”https://twitter.com/RepTedLieu?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@RepTedLieu</a>, <a href=”https://twitter.com/RepRaskin?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@RepRaskin</a> and I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol. <a href=”https://t.co/b92GL9Ap33″>pic.twitter.com/b92GL9Ap33</a>
4 more Trump national security aides resign
Four more senior advisers in the White House National Security Council have resigned following the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump, according to a senior administration official and a person familiar with the matter.
The sources told Reuters that the officials who stepped down on Thursday, in a growing exodus of Trump aides, were: Erin Walsh, senior director for African affairs; Mark Vandroff, senior director for defence policy; Anthony Rugierro, senior director for weapons of mass destruction; and Rob Greenway, senior director for Middle Eastern and North African affairs.
Cabinet members resign
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced early in the day that she is resigning effective Monday, becoming the highest-ranking member of the Trump administration to resign in protest after the pro-Trump riot in the Capitol. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos added her resignation to the pile by late Thursday, calling Trump’s rhetoric an “inflection point.”
In a statement, Chao said the violent attack on the Capitol “has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”
Chao, who is married to McConnell, said her department will continue to co-operate with president-elect Joe Biden’s designated nominee to head the department, Pete Buttigieg.
Trump’s former acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, now a special envoy to Northern Ireland, earlier Thursday told CNBC in an interview he would be resigning.
Earlier resignations from Wednesday included Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s chief of staff and a former White House press secretary, as well as deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, said to be influential in shaping the administration’s policy toward China.
WATCH | See how the siege on the U.S. Capitol unfolded:
Capitol Police praised and criticized
The chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says the mob that stormed the building wielded metal pipes, chemical irritants and other weapons against law enforcement.
Steven Sund issued a statement Thursday saying the rioting protesters “actively attacked” police officers and “were determined to enter into the Capitol building by causing great damage.”
Sund defended his agency’s response from criticism that officers did not do enough to stop the incursion. He says his agency “had a robust plan” for what he anticipated would be peaceful protests but that what occurred Wednesday was “criminal, riotous behaviour.”
There will be many videos, some with raise concern, some will show heroism. We need a full investigation on how the Capitol’s security was breached this quickly. As the ranking member on the committee that funds the Capitol Police, I intend to be at the forefront of that inquiry.
He said several Capitol Police officers were hospitalized with serious injuries, without specifying.
Several members of Congress, including Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, thanked the force for preventing members of the House and Senate from getting injured but also promised to inquire about how the compound was breached.
Pelosi thanked the brave actions of rank-and-file members but said: “There was a failure of leadership at the top.” She called for the resignation of Sund, who she said hadn’t yet briefed members of Congress on Wednesday’s events.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at a news conference also thanked all police agencies who responded while announcing a two-week state of emergency in order for the district to marshal for more resources during the transition between presidential administrations. She characterized the actions of those who stormed the Capitol as “textbook terrorism.”
WATCH | What happens to Trumpism after Trump?
Robert Contee, acting chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in D.C., had no further information on the three people who were said late Wednesday to have died of “medical emergencies” in the chaos.
D.C. police officials had earlier said that two pipe bombs were recovered, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee.
Shooting victim identified
A Capitol Police officer shot and killed one person, who Sund identified as Ashli Babbitt. Sund did not identify the officer but said they would be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Babbitt’s family described her as an Air Force veteran and avid supporter of Trump and his efforts to stay in office.
Ashli Babbitt’s husband, Aaron Babbitt, told KSWB-TV, a Fox affiliate in San Diego, that he and his wife, 35, live in that city and that she was in Washington on Wednesday to support Trump. Aaron Babbitt sent his wife a message about 30 minutes before the shooting and never heard back.
WATCH | Keith Boag: Trump exploited longstanding currents on the right:
“She loved her country and she was doing what she thought was right to support her country, joining up with like-minded people that also love their president and their country,” he told the news station.
A Twitter account under Babbitt’s name identifies her as a veteran, Libertarian and vociferous supporter of the right to bear arms.
Trump betrayed office: William Barr
Former attorney general William Barr said Trump’s conduct before and during the storming of the U.S. Capitol was a “betrayal of his office and supporters.”
In a statement to The Associated Press, Barr said Thursday that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.”
Barr was one of Trump’s most loyal and ardent defenders in the cabinet. He resigned last month, days after saying at a news conference that he saw no evidence of the widespread election fraud Trump was baselessly alleging.
Separately, acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen released a statement Thursday condemning those who breached the Capitol as “a mob.”
“Our criminal prosecutors have been working throughout the night with special agents and investigators from the U.S. Capitol Police, FBI, ATF, Metropolitan Police Department and the public to gather the evidence, identify perpetrators and charge federal crimes where warranted,” said Rosen.
Trump quoted in statement pledging to ‘orderly’ transition
Trump said there “will be an orderly transition on January 20th” after Congress concluded the electoral vote count certifying president-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Trump said in a statement tweeted by his social media director Dan Scavino: “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.”
He went on: “While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.”
Trump’s accounts have been locked by social media outlets.
WATCH | U.S. Congress validates Biden-Harris win:
Fewer Republican objections than expected after violence
The House and Senate certified Biden’s electoral college win early Thursday in a session interrupted for more than six hours by the violence outside their chambers.
Thirteen Republican senators and dozens of Republican representatives had planned to force debate and votes on perhaps six different states’ votes. The assault on the Capitol made some Republicans squeamish about trying to overturn Biden’s win, and challenges were lodged only against Arizona and Pennsylvania.
LISTEN l CBC’s Front Burner podcast on Wednesday’s stunning events:
Front Burner32:17Pro-Trump extremists storm Capitol Hill
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz defended his objection to the electoral college results as “the right thing to do.” The Texas senator condemned the violence that erupted as supporters of Trump stormed the Capitol.
Cruz led the first challenge to Biden’s defeat of Trump by objecting to Arizona’s results. He sought to have Congress launch a commission to investigate the election.
The House joined the Senate in turning aside Republican objections to Pennsylvania’s electoral vote for president-elect Biden. Lawmakers in the House voted 282-138 against the objection as the counting of electoral college votes continued into the early hours of Thursday morning.
The Senate killed Republican objections to Pennsylvania’s electoral vote, by a 92-7 margin. Those objecting included Missouri Republican Josh Hawley, who is considered a potential 2024 presidential contender.
Biden won Pennsylvania by slightly more than 80,000 votes. Since the Nov. 3 election, Trump and his allies filed at least a half-dozen lawsuits challenging Biden’s win on various grounds, including that many or all of the state’s mail-in ballots were illegal.
The lawsuits failed as judge after judge found no violation of state law or constitutional rights, or no grounds to grant an immediate halt to certifying the election.
The objection over Arizona failed 303-121 in the House, with only Republicans voting in support. In the Senate the total was 93 against the objection, with Cruz and Hawley joined by fellow Republican senators Cindy Hyde-Smith, Roger Marshall, John Kennedy and Tommy Tuberville.
Biden defeated Trump by 306-232 in electoral votes and will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.
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