Trump Agrees to Orderly Transfer of Power to Biden After Capitol Riots

Thursday - 07/01/2021 10:06
Congress ratified the president-elect’s victory in an overnight joint session, with lawmakers from both parties condemning president’s rhetoric

WASHINGTON—President Trump agreed to an orderly transition of power after Congress ratified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory early Thursday as the nation’s capital awoke after a violent day where pro-Trump rioters invaded the Capitol building and threatened lawmakers.

Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over a joint session of Congress, confirmed Mr. Biden the winner in an overnight joint session of Congress, and Mr. Trump released a statement at 3:49 a.m. saying he “totally” disagreed with the outcome but “nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.”

The statement came through an aide as the president’s Twitter account remained locked due to his postings on Wednesday that the social media network said could spread violence.

Mr. Trump doesn’t have public events on his schedule Thursday, and the White House didn’t respond to a request for comment about his next steps. The city of Washington was under a curfew through early Thursday morning, and there were no reports of additional violence overnight. Lawmakers were expected to leave Washington until the inauguration in 13 days.

Members of Congress from both parties condemned Mr. Trump for his rhetoric, including encouraging supporters who attended a rally Wednesday to march to the Capitol and then sympathizing with those who broke into the building. The chaos shocked the nation and the world, and it forced the evacuation of congressional leaders to nearby Fort McNair, a U.S. law-enforcement official said.

Vice President Mike Pence in the Capitol early Thursday morning. PHOTO: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Vice President Mike Pence in the Capitol early Thursday morning.

“There is no question that the president formed the mob, the president incited the mob, the president addressed the mob. He lit the flame,” said Rep. Liz Cheney (R, Wyo.), head of the House GOP conference.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was seeking to identify people involved in the violence. “We are accepting tips and digital media depicting rioting or violence in and around the U.S. Capitol on January 6,” the FBI wrote in a tweet Thursday morning and directed people to a website where they could submit information.

Four people died, police said, including a woman who was shot in the Capitol building. More than 50 people had been arrested as of Wednesday, and Capitol Police faced criticism for allowing the breach. Democrats vowed to investigate.

“I think it’s pretty clear that there’s going to be a number of people who are going to be without employment very, very soon,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio), the House appropriator in charge of funding for Capitol Police, told reporters.

A congressional exercise in the peaceful transfer of power devolved into deadly chaos when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol. Hours after the riots, Congress reconvened and certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press via ZUMA Wire

The president-elect continued to fill out his administration, formally announcing his intention to nominate Merrick Garland to be attorney general and Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general, among other Justice Department positions. Mr. Biden was expected to give remarks from Wilmington, Del., early Thursday afternoon.

Numerous Democratic lawmakers from the House and Senate called for action against Mr. Trump after Wednesday’s historic incursion into the Capitol, pushing Mr. Pence to use the 25th amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office. Among those lawmakers is Washington Sen. Patty Murray, a member of the Democratic leadership.

“The world watched aghast as insurrectionists, who had been egged on by the president, threatened the safety of elected officials and staff and destroyed public property as they stormed and occupied both the House and Senate chambers, bringing our democracy to a halt,” 18 Democrats on the House Judiciary panel wrote in a letter to Mr. Pence.

The 25th amendment says that if the vice president and a majority of the officers of the sitting cabinet secretaries decide that the president is unable to do the duties of his office, the vice president can immediately take on the duties of the acting president.

Screenshot 2021 01 07 100956
Sources: WSJ reports; U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Capitol, Bloomberg News (location of shooting)
Merrill Sherman and Andrew James /THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Should such a declaration be issued, the Constitution states that the vice president would immediately assume the powers and duties as an acting president. To officially remove the president, Congress would then vote, and two-thirds of each chamber would be required to officially remove the president. If that threshold isn’t reached, the president resumes office.

The unprecedented move is unlikely to happen so close to the inauguration. Though Democrats won two seats in the Senate this week, bringing the number to 50-50, they will need to wait until the elections are certified and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is sworn in to officially take the majority.

“I think we have to hold our breath” until the inauguration, said Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah), saying it was too late to begin proceedings.

President-elect Joe Biden condemned violent rioters who broke into the Capitol building and forced a halt to the ratification of Biden’s Electoral College win. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) was expected to hold a news conference at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Members of Mr. Trump’s cabinet condemned the violence on Thursday. “The violence that occurred last night at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., was completely unacceptable,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said while visiting Israel. He added that he was looking forward to continuing to work on the transition to the Biden administration.

Mick Mulvaney, the U.S. special envoy for Northern Ireland and the former White House chief of staff, resigned from his post, telling CNBC on Thursday that “I can’t stay here. Not after yesterday.”

A number of White House officials resigned Wednesday in the wake of the violence. Among them were Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, and Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff and press secretary to first lady Melania Trump. National security adviser Robert O’Brien was considering resigning but hadn’t made up his mind to do so, according to people familiar with the situation.

President Trump speaking to supporters Wednesday near the White House before the beginning of the joint session of Congress. PHOTO: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
President Trump speaking to supporters Wednesday near the White House before the beginning of the joint session of Congress.

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