„As far as this is concerned, we want no violence — never violence,” Trump said outside the White House before departing for Texas, facing reporters for the first time since his supporters rioted last Wednesday after he urged them to march on the Capitol. „On the impeachment, it’s really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it, and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing.”
But days before, the president himself encouraged his supporters to head to the Capitol and „fight like hell,” and once they were ransacking the building and threatening lawmakers’ lives, he even praised them.
During a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border later Tuesday, the president had a threat for President-elect Joe Biden, warning that Democratic threats to use the 25th Amendment will “come back to haunt” him.
„Free speech is under assault like never before. The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me, but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes, ‘Be careful what you wish for,'” he said. „The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country, and is causing tremendous anger and division and pain, far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the U.S.A., especially at this very tender time.”
Trump has also tried to shift the blame for more potential violent protests, saying it was Democrats — like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — who were „causing tremendous danger to our country,” with their attempt to impeach him over his role in Wednesday’s insurrection. In his brief remarks, he stopped short of issuing any sort of condemnation of his own supporters’ actions.
„For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger,” Trump said. „I want no violence.”
Schumer responded, „What President Trump said this morning shows how despicable a president he is. He blamed the violence that he helped cause — on others. … What Trump did today blaming others for what he caused is a pathological technique used by the worst of dictators.”
The president spoke to reporters again before boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, falsely saying that “everybody” said his speech at Wednesday’s rally „was totally appropriate.”
In reality, his remarks were widely criticized by those across the political spectrum, including those in his own party. His role in Wednesday’s assault prompted House Democrats to push toward impeaching him for an unprecedented second time.
And the day before, House Minority Kevin McCarthy told his colleagues during a conference call that he and Trump spoke that day and that the president had privately acknowledged that he bore some responsibility for the riot, according to a Republican familiar with the comments.
On that same call, though, McCarthy said Trump baselessly blamed the insurrection on far-left antifa sympathizers rather than his own supporters, despite no evidence of any antifa involvement. The president himself encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol, and once they were attacking the building, called them „great patriots.”
When a reporter asked, „What is your role in what happened at the Capitol? What is your personal responsibility?” he responded, „So, if you read my speech — and many people have done it and I’ve seen it, both in the papers and in the media on television. It’s been analyzed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.
„And if you look at what other people have said, politicians at a high level, about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle and various other–other places, that was a real problem, what they said. But they’ve analyzed my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence. And everybody, to the tee, thought it was totally appropriate.”
He began his brief remarks to reporters by attacking “Big Tech” for being “dividing and divisive” after he was banned from their platforms.
“I think that Big Tech is doing a horrible thing for our country and to our country,” he said. “And I believe it’s going to be a catastrophic mistake for them. They’re dividing and divisive, and they’re showing something that I’ve been predicting for a long time. I’ve been predicting it for a long time, and people didn’t act on it. But I think Big Tech has made a terrible mistake, and very very bad for our country.”
He said the tech industry’s approach “causes a lot of problems and a lot of danger” and “there’s always a counter-move when they do that.” He did not elaborate.
“And that’s leading others to do the same thing,” he said. “And it causes a lot of problems and a lot of danger. Big mistake, they shouldn’t be doing it. But there’s always a counter-move when they do that. I’ve never seen such anger as I see right now, and that’s a terrible thing. Terrible thing.”
ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel, Mariam Khan and Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.
Trump lashes out at impeachment effort, claims it’s ‘causing tremendous anger’ originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a non-binding resolution on Tuesday that calls on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove President Trump from office.
Citing Trump’s role in inciting “a massive violent invasion of the United States Capitol” on Jan. 6, the day the president had summoned his supporters to Washington to protest the certification of the Electoral College vote formalizing President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, the resolution, introduced by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., passed by a largely party line vote of 223-205. One Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, was the only lawmaker to break ranks.
The resolution asked Pence “to immediately use his powers under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to convene and mobilize the principal officers of the executive departments in the Cabinet to declare what is obvious to a horrified Nation: That the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office.”
Yet even as the House was in the process of voting on whether to proceed with the resolution, Pence released a letter that he had sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stating that he would not invoke the 25th Amendment to seek to remove Trump from office.
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence said in the letter, adding that invoking the amendment “would set a terrible precedent.”
Ratified in 1967 following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the 25th Amendment allows for the formal transfer of a president’s duties should he or she die in office or become disabled. Under Section 4 of the amendment, a president can be stripped of their powers, although remaining technically in office, if the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet vote to do so.
In introducing the resolution for a vote, Raskin, detailing the attack on the nation’s Capitol, placed the blame for the chaos at Trump’s feet.
“I think every member of this body should be able to agree that this president is not meeting the most minimal duties of office. He is not meeting the oath that he swore to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic,” Raskin said.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., spoke first on behalf of Republicans who voted against the resolution.
“What a sad an ominous way to begin the 117th Congress. Hasn’t this body done enough to divide our country and abuse our Constitution without carrying that damage into the new session?” McClintock said, adding that Trump had “never suggested rampaging the Capitol and disrupting the Congress.”
What followed was a charged partisan debate in which Democrats repeatedly bashed Trump and Republicans largely went after them for it and neither side seemed to agree on much.
While Pence would still have needed to convince a majority of the 15 officials authorized to vote (the heads of executive departments, including both confirmed and acting Cabinet secretaries) to invoke the 25th Amendment, his letter to Pelosi on Tuesday made clear that would not happen.
During a Monday night meeting with Trump, the first since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Pence reportedly pledged to work with the president for the remainder of his term.
If Pence had invoked the 25th Amendment and convinced eight or more of the 15 Cabinet members to join him, Pence would have become acting president for the few days that remain before Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
House Democrats, meanwhile, had anticipated Pence’s refusal to cooperate with their plan, and planned a vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday on the charge of “incitement of insurrection.” At least three House Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said they would vote to impeach Trump. That resolution can pass with a simple majority. But to remove Trump from office requires the votes of two-thirds of the Senate, which for the time being still has a Republican majority.
Here is the full text of the 25th Amendment resolution:
“As service members, we must embody the values and ideals of the nation,” said the statement issued by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
“We support and defend the constitution. Any act to disrupt the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values and oath; it is against the law.”
Amid intense anxiety ahead of next weeks’ inauguration and fears of a repeat of the violence and chaos that reverberated across the world, reports said the uniformed leadership felt obliged to issue the statement and comment on live events, something it generally seeks to avoid doing.
The situation has been made even more tense by the determination of Democrats to oust Donald Trump before he completes his term, even though he has days to go. On Wednesday, the House is due to vote on a move to impeach him for the second time.
They and others have accused Mr Trump of inciting what many have termed an “insurrection”, most obviously during a speech to supporters in Washington DC shortly before hundreds of people stormed into the Capitol.
They were seeking to stop the certification of electoral votes cast for Mr Biden, having been persuaded by Mr Trump and others that the election was rigged. There is no evidence to support any electoral fraud.
The statement was first reported by CNN, which said Gen Mark Milley, the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, issued it along with each of the top commanders of the different branches of the military.
“We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law,” the statement added.
“The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection.”
The statement came as the House was due to vote on a measure calling for Mr Trump to be removed from office through the 25th amendment of the constitution.
House Democrats also plan to vote on Wednesday, to impeach Mr Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection”.
If the vote goes ahead, Mr Trump would the first president to be impeached twice.
With less than two weeks left in Donald Trump’s presidency, a number of administration officials have resigned in apparent protest of his incitement of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday, and the White House is reportedly bracing for more departures.
Here is a running list of Trump administration officials who have tendered their resignations so far:
Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, announced on Monday that he is stepping down from his post. His resignation comes days after he had called on the president asked to “strongly condemn the violence” that took place at the U.S. Capitol.
In a letter to staff, Wolf said that he had intended to serve in his role until the end of the Trump administration but that his decision to depart was “warranted by recent events,” including “ongoing meritless court rulings” regarding the scope of his authority as acting secretary.
In November, a federal judge in New York ruled that he lacked the authority to limit work permits of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, known as Dreamers.
Chao, the transportation secretary, announced her resignation on Thursday afternoon. She is the first Cabinet secretary to resign as a result of the Capitol riot.
In a letter to her colleagues, Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, cited Wednesday’s events as a reason for her departure.
“Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed,” Chao wrote. “As I’m sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”
Chao’s resignation is effective Jan. 11.
DeVos, the secretary of education, announced her resignation Thursday night, becoming the second member of Trump’s Cabinet to resign in the wake of the violence at the Capitol.
In her resignation letter to Trump, DeVos said there is “no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”
“Impressionable children” were watching the events at the Capitol, she added, and “we each have a moral obligation to exercise good judgement and model the behavior we hope they would emulate.”
Mulvaney, Trump’s former acting chief of staff, told CNBC Thursday that he had resigned from his current post as special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland. He said he had called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday night to inform him of his decision.
“I can’t do it. I can’t stay,” Mulvaney said, adding that he had talked with other Trump officials who were also eyeing the exits.
“We didn’t sign up for what you saw,” he continued. “We signed up for making America great again; we signed up for lower taxes and less regulation. The president has a long list of successes that we can be proud of. But all of that went away yesterday.”
Mulvaney added that Trump, in his view, was “not the same as he was eight months ago.”
He said many officials are “choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse” in their place in the 13 days he has left in office.
Grisham, a former White House press secretary, resigned from her current job as chief of staff to first lady Melania Trump.
In a tweet announcing her departure, Grisham did not say whether her resignation was triggered by Trump’s halting response to the violence. But notably, she did not mention the president.
“It has been an honor to serve the country in the @WhiteHouse,” Grisham wrote. “I am very proud to have been a part of @FLOTUS @MELANIATRUMP mission to help children everywhere, & proud of the many accomplishments of this Administration.”
Matthews, the White House deputy press secretary, said in a statement Wednesday that she was “honored to serve in the Trump administration and proud of the policies we enacted.”
But “as someone who worked in the halls of Congress,” she explained, “I was deeply disturbed by what I saw.”
“I’ll be stepping down, effective immediately,” Matthews said, adding: “Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.”
Anna Cristina ‘Rickie’ Niceta
Niceta served as the White House social secretary for virtually all of Trump’s term. According to CNN, which first reported her departure, her duties included overseeing “all events at the White House, from small meetings in the West Wing to the annual Easter Egg Roll, Halloween, state visits and congressional picnics and galas.”
Pottinger, deputy to national security adviser Robert O’Brien and who had served in the administration from its first days, resigned Wednesday, Reuters reported.
He was a top China adviser and a leading figure in the development of Trump’s policy toward Beijing.
“Matt Pottinger has served the nation and the Administration with distinction for the past four years,” O’Brien wrote in a tweet confirming his departure. “His work [led] to a great awakening in our country and around the world to the danger posed by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Goodspeed, chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, told a reporter for the New York Times on Thursday that “the events at the U.S. Capitol yesterday led me to conclude my position was untenable.”
Dreiband, the assistant attorney general and head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, announced his resignation in a statement Thursday.
Facing likely impeachment — and the potential for criminal liability — for helping incite last week’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, President Trump on Tuesday sought to defend himself, saying the speech he gave at a rally shortly before the siege was “totally appropriate.”
Speaking to reporters at Joint Base Andrews before departing for Alamo, Texas, the president was asked whether he accepted any personal responsibility for the events that left at least five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer, after a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol building.
“So if you read my speech, and many people have done it, and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television, it’s been analyzed and people thought what I said was totally appropriate,” Trump replied. “And if you look at what other people have said, politicians at a high level, about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle and various other places, that was a real problem, what they said. But they’ve analyzed my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence and everybody to the T thought it was totally appropriate.”
In December, Trump, on his now frozen Twitter account, urged supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6, promising a “wild” time. He spoke for over an hour at the “Save America” rally prior to the assault on the Capitol, telling supporters, “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
“When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules,” Trump said, in demanding that Vice President Mike Pence refuse to accept the Electoral College slates from several states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden.
“If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” the president said. Pence, who constitutional experts said had no choice in the matter, declined to follow Trump’s order.
Later, a large group of the insurrectionists surging into the Capitol chanted, “Hang Mike Pence.”
“We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump exhorted the thousands of supporters who had gathered on the Ellipse, at the other end of the Mall from the Capitol. “We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about.”
“We’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you,” Trump said, before returning via motorcade to the White House, where he reportedly watched the carnage on television. “We are going to the Capitol. … We’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
Others, including Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr., his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, also spoke at the rally demanding that Republicans block the Electoral College count.
Hours later, as police attempted to clear the building, Trump posted a video telling the rioters it was time to “go home.” He repeated his lie that the election was stolen from him and told the hundreds who had committed federal crimes that they were “very special” and “we love you.”
Last week, Michael R. Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said, “We are looking at all actors here, not only the people that went into the building, but . . . others that maybe assisted or facilitated or played some ancillary role in this. We will look at every actor and all criminal charges.”
When Trump’s “fight like hell” comments were raised, Sherwin reiterated, “We are looking at all actors here, and anyone that had a role, if the evidence fits the element of a crime, they’re going to be charged.”