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Capitol riot: Trump commits to ‘orderly’ transition of power

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Publishedduration1 hour agomedia captionTrump calls for an ‘orderly transition of power’ to the Biden administration on January 20thUS President Donald Trump has committed to an “orderly” transition of power a day after his supporters stormed Congress, provoking world condemnation.Allowed back on Twitter following a suspension, the Republican president decried the rioters’ “heinous attack”.He spoke as…

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media captionTrump calls for an ‘orderly transition of power’ to the Biden administration on January 20th

US President Donald Trump has committed to an “orderly” transition of power a day after his supporters stormed Congress, provoking world condemnation.

Allowed back on Twitter following a suspension, the Republican president decried the rioters’ “heinous attack”.

He spoke as top Democrats called for him to be removed from office, just 13 days before he is due to step down.

Mr Trump’s remarks were widely seen as his first public acknowledgement of defeat in November’s election.

In the clip he barely touched on his baseless claims of voter fraud, which had riled diehard supporters on Wednesday outside the White House.

During that rally, he urged the crowds to head for the Capitol, where they forced their way inside.

The breach of the seat of US government led to the evacuation of shocked lawmakers, postponing for several hours their certification of US President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Mr Trump.

What did Trump say?

Mr Trump returned to Twitter on Thursday evening, following a 12-hour freeze of his account after the social media company said his tweets could stoke violence. In the new video message, he said: “Now Congress has certified the results a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th.

“My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”

Mr Trump said he had “immediately deployed” the National Guard to expel the intruders, though some US media reported he had hesitated to send in the troops, leaving his vice-president to give the order.

Mr Trump also praised his “wonderful supporters” and promised “our incredible journey is only just beginning”.

media captionPhone footage reveals chaotic scenes inside US Capitol

The video message was the closest he has come to a formal acceptance of his defeat after weeks of falsely insisting he actually won the election in a “landslide”.

In November, he tweeted about Mr Biden: “He won because the Election was Rigged.” But shortly afterwards Mr Trump denied that remark had amounted to a concession of victory to his rival.

Earlier on Thursday, former First Lady Michelle Obama released a statement blaming Wednesday’s disorder on Mr Trump, and she called on Twitter “to stop enabling this monstrous behaviour” by permanently banning him from its platform.

Who has resigned?

On Thursday evening, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos became the second cabinet member to quit following the Capitol riot.

In her resignation letter, Ms DeVos – one of the longest serving members of the president’s administration – accused him of fomenting Wednesday’s disorder.

media caption‘Treason, traitors and thugs’ – the words lawmakers used to describe Capitol riot

“There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me,” she wrote.

Earlier in the day, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao stepped down, saying she had been “deeply troubled” by the rampage.

Other aides to quit include special envoy Mick Mulvaney, and a senior national security official, and the press secretary to First Lady Melania Trump. A state department adviser was also sacked after calling Mr Trump “unfit for office” in a tweet.

Who’s seeking to oust Trump?

The top congressional Democrats, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, are urging Vice-President Mike Pence and Mr Trump’s cabinet to remove the president for “his incitement of insurrection”.

“The President’s dangerous and seditious acts necessitate his immediate removal from office,” they said in a joint statement.

The duo called for Mr Trump to be ousted using the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, which allows the vice-president to step up if the president is unable to perform his duties owing to a mental or physical illness.

But it would require Mr Pence and at least eight cabinet members to break with Mr Trump and invoke the amendment – something they have so far seemed unlikely to do.

If the vice-president failed to act, Mrs Pelosi indicated she would convene the House to launch their second impeachment proceedings against Mr Trump.

However, to succeed in convicting and removing the president, Democrats would need a two-thirds majority in the Republican-controlled Senate, and there is no indication they would get those numbers.

What was the role of the police?

Law enforcement have been heavily criticised after they were overrun by the protesters.

Mr Biden, a Democrat, said: “Nobody could tell me that if it was a group of Black Lives Matter protesters yesterday they wouldn’t have been treated very differently than the thugs that stormed the Capitol.”

media captionJoe Biden: Black Lives Matter protesters would have been treated “differently”

Images captured inside the Capitol building showed protesters roaming through some of the corridors unimpeded.

However, one officer has been placed on leave after fatally shooting a female demonstrator in the House. Law enforcement told US media she was unarmed.

Washington police say 68 people have so far been arrested, only one of them from the DC area.

The FBI is seeking to identify those involved in the rampage. The Department of Justice says those arrested could face charges of seditious conspiracy, as well as rioting and insurrection.

One of those detained at the Capitol had a “military-style automatic weapon and 11 Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs)”, according to the federal attorney for Washington DC.

On Thursday, crews began installing a non-scalable 7ft (2m) fence around the Capitol. It will remain in place for at least 30 days.

The official responsible for security in the House of Representatives, the sergeant at arms, has resigned. Mr Schumer has called for his counterpart in the Senate to be sacked.

Reports say US Capitol Police (USCP) chief Steven Sund is also resigning, effective 16 January, following calls from Mrs Pelosi.

Who died?

Four people have been confirmed dead in Wednesday’s mayhem.

Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old US Air Force veteran from San Diego, California, was named as the woman fatally shot by a police officer.

image copyrightTwitter/Ashli Babbitt

image captionMs Babbitt (right) is pictured at a boat parade for President Trump

Three others died after suffering unspecified medical emergencies on Capitol grounds, police said.

They were named on Thursday as Benjamin Philips, 50, from Pennsylvania; Kevin Greeson, 55, from Alabama; and Rosanne Boyland, 34, from Georgia. Mr Greeson’s family said he died of a heart attack.

On Thursday evening, congressman Dean Phillips, a Minnesota Democrat, tweeted that a USCP officer had also died.

But the police department later said the report was inaccurate.

Police said on Wednesday that 14 officers had been injured in the riot. One had received “significant facial injuries” after being hit by a projectile. Another also needed hospital treatment after being dragged into a crowd and assaulted.

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