Donald Trump has called on Americans to come together after violent scenes in Washington on Wednesday which he condemned as “mayhem” and a “heinous attack”.
In a short video posted on Twitter, Trump said being president had been “the honour of my lifetime” and insisted that in spreading baseless claims of election fraud he had merely been “fighting to defend American democracy”. He also committed to a “smooth transfer of power”.
President Trump returned to Twitter on Thursday following a 12-hour freeze of his account after the social media company said his messages could stoke violence. His 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”.
“Now Congress has certified the results a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th,” the Republican said in a video, without mentioning Mr Biden by name.
“My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
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.
He also praised his “wonderful supporters” and promised “our incredible journey is only just beginning”.
Police officer dies
A US Capitol police officer has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Congress by a pro-Trump mob as top Democrats have called for the president to be removed for “inciting” the riot.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment to the Constitution to declare the president unfit for office.
Alternatively, she vowed to initiate the process to impeach the president.
Under pressure, Donald Trump finally condemned the “heinous attack”.
Wednesday’s violence came hours after Trump encouraged his supporters to fight against the election results as Congress was certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November vote.
Five people have died in relation to the riot, including Brian Sicknick, an officer at the US Capitol Police (USCP) who was “injured while physically engaging with protesters”, the police said.
Meanwhile, the top congressional Democrats – Speaker Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer – have urged Vice-President 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 Trump to be ousted using the 25th Amendment, 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 Pence and at least eight cabinet members to break with Trump and invoke the amendment, something they have so far seemed unlikely to do. Trump is due to leave office on 20 January, when Biden will be sworn in.
SOURCE: BBC, AGENCIES