Trump Faces Mounting Pressure and Calls for Resignation, Removal
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump came under mounting pressure Thursday after inciting a mob of protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol -- facing calls to resign, talk of impeachment and a push for Vice President Mike Pence to undertake extraordinary constitutional moves to oust him from office.
The top Democrats in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, called for Pence and the Trump cabinet to invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which provides an avenue for the president to be removed. Pence hasn’t responded, and Democrats floated impeachment proceedings as an alternative.
Other members of Congress echoed the call for Trump to quit or be forced out, including Congressman Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican and staunch Trump critic.
Resignations continue to mount -- Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao as well as Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland, Mick Mulvaney, who had previously served as his chief of staff, both stepped down because of the episode.
Trump released a brief video statement late Thursday, looking to calm the outrage he’d stoked for weeks and giving his strongest acknowledgment yet that he’s about to leave office.
“Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20th. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth orderly and seamless transition of power,” he said. He also condemned the attack.
Others in the administration, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have said they’ll stay, helping Trump avert a crisis of mass departures. Mnuchin and his senior staff have agreed they will remain at the Treasury to ensure an orderly transition amid the pandemic-induced economic crisis, according to a person familiar with the matter.
President-Elect Joe Biden, speaking Thursday in Delaware, called the storming of the Capitol “an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings.” The riot disrupted Congress’s counting of Electoral College votes. Hours later, lawmakers, with Pence presiding, resumed the session and affirmed Biden’s victory early Thursday morning.
Biden linked Trump to the mob action, saying: “We have a president who has made his contempt for the rule of law clear.”
Schumer on Thursday called for Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to oust the president. If that doesn’t happen, he said Congress should reconvene to impeach Trump.
“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer,” Schumer said.
Pelosi echoed the remarks, saying Trump “incited an armed insurrection against America” and urged Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove the president. Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment otherwise, she added.
Trump is “a very dangerous person who should not continue in office,” Pelosi added. “This is urgent, an emergency of the highest magnitude.”
Three Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee -- David Cicilline, Ted Lieu and Jamie Raskin -- said Thursday they were circulating articles of impeachment.
The articles say that Trump’s effort to subvert the election and incite the mob on Wednesday “has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.”
The articles would bar Trump from holding public office, ending any hope of him returning to the White House in the 2024 election.
Kinzinger said Trump “barely” denounced the violence. “All indications are that the president has become unmoored, not just from his duty or even his oath but from reality itself,” he said.
Justin Amash, a former Republican congressman from Michigan, also said Trump should quit or be removed. Several Democratic senators said the same, including Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey and Ron Wyden.
Financial markets have largely shrugged off the turmoil in Washington, with investors focused on the prospect for a major new round of Covid-19 relief spending after Biden takes office.
U.S. stocks pared gains Wednesday after news of the violence, and resumed their rally Thursday, when all major equity indexes notched records, with about 70% of the companies in the S&P 500 in the green and the Nasdaq 100 jumping 2.5%. The Dow Jones Transportation Average -- a proxy for economic activity -- also hit an all-time high, while the Russell 2000 Index of small caps extended a three-day advance to almost 8%. Benchmark Treasury yields climbed toward 1.10%.
Trump is set to spend the weekend at Camp David. He remains frozen out on some social media platforms -- Facebook Inc. announced that it was indefinitely blocking his accounts for at least two weeks.
His access to his Twitter account was restored Thursday, allowing him to post his latest video. While it struck notes of contrition, he peppered in calls for election law reform, and reversed language he used a day earlier.
“We must revitalize the sacred bonds of love and loyalty that bind us together as one national family,” he said Thursday, a day after telling the violent mob: “we love you, you’re very special.”
The U.S. has charged 55 people with crimes stemming from the siege of the U.S. Capitol, while police in Washington were moving forward with investigations of their own.
Former Attorney General William Barr joined in criticizing Trump, telling the Associated Press that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.”
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf called on “the president and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday,” but said he wouldn’t step down before inauguration on Jan. 20.
Mulvaney, speaking to Bloomberg Radio, said he expected further resignations will be from secondary or tertiary officials, in part because top-ranking ones worry who Trump would appoint to replace him.
He said Wednesday’s events tarnish Trump’s legacy and all those who worked for him.
“We had something to show for the four years,” Mulvaney said. “Now all we’ve got is an association with somebody who’s tied to an insurrection against a government on one of its most important days. and that’s not a happy place to be, there’s no question.”
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