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Thursday December 02, 2021

Trump promises transition as calls mount to remove him

By AFP
January 09, 2021

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump on Friday acknowledged his presidency was ending and promised a smooth transition to Joe Biden in the wake of a mob attack by his supporters on the US Capitol now known to have left five people dead.

After two of his cabinet secretaries quit in protest following Wednesday’s mayhem, an unusually tame Trump condemned rioters who rampaged in his name through a congressional session that certified Biden’s victory, although he did not go so far as to congratulate or even say the name of his successor.

"This moment calls for healing and reconciliation," Trump said in a video released on Twitter after a temporary suspension, a jarring shift of tone a day after a rally in which he encouraged thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol.

"We have just been through an intense election and emotions are high, but now tempers must be cooled and calm restored," said Trump, standing before a lectern with the presidential seal. "A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power," he said.

"Serving as your president has been the honor of my lifetime," Trump said, without explicitly conceding and insisting he was "fighting to defend American democracy." Trump’s turnaround came as the two top Democrats in Congress urged his immediate removal, fearing damage he can still inflict in his less than two weeks left in the world’s most powerful job.

The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal piled on, calling for Trump "to take personal responsibility and resign." Biden, who won seven million votes more than Trump in the November 3 election as well as a decisive edge in the vital state-by-state Electoral College, declined to address demands for Trump’s removal but accused him of an "all-out assault on the institutions of our democracy."

"Yesterday, in my view, was one of the darkest days in the history of our nation," Biden said at an event to introduce his nominee for attorney general, respected judge Merrick Garland, who if confirmed will quickly need to decide whether to prosecute Trump.

"They weren’t protesters," Biden said. "They were a riotous mob, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists." "I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming but that isn’t true. We could see it coming."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer urged Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows a majority of the cabinet to remove a president deemed unable to discharge his duties. They threatened to impeach Trump for an unprecedented second time in the hopes that the Senate will oust him.