A day after the assault on the US Capitol that could’ve belonged to an apocalyptic movie, and two months after the 2020 US election was called, President Donald Trump has admitted defeat and accepted a transition of power.
But can we believe him? Probably no.
In a statement released overnight, Trump said: “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. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.”
If we are able to ignore the fact that he still maintains his false belief that the election was rigged, and that he described his term as “the greatest first term in presidential history” despite the 361,000 COVID-19 deaths and the major social justice upheavals that occurred during his presidency, then yes, he did, for the first time, state that there would be a peaceful transition of power.
Yes, he conceded the election; but he never said he lost it.
Only two hours after the Senate and the Congress met at the US Capitol to certify Joe Biden’s victory, Trump held a rally where he encouraged his supporters to “walk down to the Capitol” and “show strength”, stating that “you will never take back our country with weakness.” He told them the election was being manipulated and stolen before their very eyes. All blatant lies that he knew would light the fire that he had been building on for months, even years. Moreover, before the president took the stage, his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani publicly called for “trial by combat” against the Democrats to win the election.
Encouraged by the President (or, at least, not discouraged by him), rioters marched up and into the US Capitol building, vandalized the whole place, draped a Trump flag over the Capitol balcony and paraded, for the first time in history, confederate flags around its corridors. The situation reached a crisis point, where police guards had to draw guns, and four people were killed.
Despite this brutal attack on the US institutions, and on democracy itself, 80 members of the House of Representatives, led by Senator Josh Hawley, still challenged the election results from Pennsylvania, unsuccessfully.
Nonetheless, some Republicans did stand up to Trump. Senator Kelly Loeffler, who was originally planning on objecting to the certification of the results from Georgia, changed her mind when the session was recalled. “The events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider, and I cannot now in good conscience object to the certification of these electors,” she said. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney tweeted after the assault: “What happened at the U.S. Capitol today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States.” Ex-Republican President George Bush, also condemned Trump’s conduct, although he did not name names: “I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement. The violent assault on the Capitol — and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress — was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”
Several members of the Trump administration have also resigned in the last few hours including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger, the First Lady’s Chief of Staff Stephanie Grisham, the Commerce Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Security John Costello, along with a press aide and the White House social secretary. No word from higher officials, nonetheless.
Eventually, Biden’s victory in the 2020 US elections was certified, and democracy was protected. Or was it?
At the moment the United States is facing two questions: Will Trump be impeached? And will he leave the White House peacefully, as promised? In summary: will a President that promoted a coup face any consequences for his actions?
Following the events on Wednesday, multiple Democrats wrote a letter to Vice-President Pence urging the invocation of the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office. Several media outlets have supported the decision. At the same time, Ilhan Omar has presented a resolution of impeachment and called her colleagues to introduce the resolution. 60 of them have already signed it. “Every single hour that Donald Trump remains in office, our country, our democracy, and our national security remain in danger,” she wrote. Later in the day, Nancy Pelosi stated that the impeachment process will begin if the President is not removed under the 25th amendment.
All the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee just wrote a letter to Vice President Pence, urging him to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump: pic.twitter.com/6VrcHI5hMr
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) January 7, 2021
If anyone expects Trump to resign, wake up; where do you think you’ve been for the past four years? No, Trump will not resign, nor he should.
If the United States and, in particular, the Republican party, wants to show that the respect towards its laws and its democracy is still intact, it should force the President out of office in the next two weeks.
In order for that to happen, Pence and the majority of Trump’s cabinet would need to declare that Trump is unable to perform the duties of the presidency and remove him under the terms of the 25th amendment, according to Paul Campos, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Colorado. Pence would then become President until January 20th. However, Trump would still have a chance to declare that he is capable of resuming the job, and the matter would be taken to Congress. Although Congress would need a two-thirds majority of both chambers of Congress to maintain the impeachment, Pence would be President until the issue is voted on, so the House could delay the voting until after Biden’s swearing.
In contrast to the process of impeachment, this process would immediately remove Trump from office, should Pence be brave enough to enact it. If he doesn’t, the fate of the United States will rest upon that feared 20th January, and the hope that the President is willing to leave without a tantrum.
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