The fallout from Wednesday’s chaos at the Capitol continued Thursday — and will likely be felt for some time. Here are the top developments:
Congress certifies election, Trump says he will leave: Members of Congress returned to the Capitol Wednesday night to finish the job of certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, with several GOP senators backing off of plans to dispute the results in several swing states. After an earlier challenge to Arizona’s results failed, one final challenge, raised by dozens of House Republicans and joined by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), was also voted down.
The House is now set to be out of session until after Biden’s inauguration and the Senate has adjourned until January 19.
Soon after Congress certified Biden’s win early Thursday morning, President Trump acknowledged for the first time the coming end of his term in office — but he continued his inflammatory and baseless claims about the election.
“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 said in a statement posted to Twitter by White House social media director Dan Scavino.
Trump’s own Twitter and Facebook accounts had been locked after Wednesday’s violence, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that the company will block Trump on its services indefinitely, but at least until the transfer of power in two weeks. “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Zuckerberg said.
Calls for Trump’s removal: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer joined in growing calls for Trump’s removal from office for his role in inciting Wednesday’s mob attack. The Democratic leaders called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to wrest the power of the presidency from Trump. Pelosi said that if Pence didn’t do so, Congress may pursue a second impeachment of the president, though with only 13 days left in Trump’s term, it’s unlikely that there’s enough time or political will to push ahead with such an effort. Some Republicans also called for the president to be removed from office, but Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) was the only GOP member of Congress to join more than 100 Democratic lawmakers in urging Trump’s removal or impeachment.
Administration officials resign: A growing number of Trump administration officials have resigned in the wake of Wednesday’s events. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced she will resign effective Monday, and other Cabinet resignations reportedly are coming.
Chao’s husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, had notably decried efforts by fellow Republicans to overturn the election results, calling his vote the most important of his 36 years in the Senate. “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” he said Wednesday in a speech to a joint session of Congress shortly before the pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol. “I will not pretend such a vote would be a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing.”
Others who have resigned include:
- Tyler Goodspeed, acting chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers;
- Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s chief of staff and former White House press secretary;
- Sarah Matthews, a deputy White House press secretary;
- Mick Mulvaney, the special envoy to Northern Ireland and former acting White House Chief of Staff;
- Rickie Niceta, the White House social secretary;
- Matt Pottinger, deputy national security adviser.
Mulvaney had penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed published in November under the headline: “If He Loses, Trump Will Concede Gracefully.” On Thursday, the former top Trump aide told CNBC, “You hate to be wrong about something of this import.”
The bottom line: Trump’s probably still going to be in office until January 20, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll be held accountable in any way for Wednesday’s tragic riot. The New York Times reported Thursday that the president has told advisers in conversations since Election Day that he is considering pardoning himself — a move, the Times notes, “that would mark one of the most extraordinary and untested uses of presidential power in American history.”