Trump claims violent Capitol insurrection was ‘the end’ of his term – but at what cost?

Analysis: There are many unanswered questions, writes Washington Bureau Chief John T Bennett. Why does Trump deserve to serve his final 13 days in office? Where were the Capitol Police, and why did they show this angry white mob such deference?

<p>A pro-Trump rioter carries a Confederate flag through the halls of the Capitol on Wednesday</p>

A pro-Trump rioter carries a Confederate flag through the halls of the Capitol on Wednesday

“The end.”

Donald Trump finally used those words about his election challenge at 3.49am.

But at what cost?

The president, his Twitter account frozen by the technology giant, used a tweet from an aide to assure the country “there will be an orderly transition on 20 January” after a joint session of Congress certified president-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college win.

But at what cost?

American citizens, transformed into an angry mob by their president, stormed the US Capitol building on Wednesday. “Where the f**k are they?” one Trump supporter yelled of lawmakers on a video taken by a journalist and posted online.

Another screaming man demanded a Capitol Police officer take him to vice president Mike Pence, apparently to do Trump’s ever-loyal deputy harm because he had an hour earlier announced he would not try overturning Biden’s electoral college victory.

The scenes were surreal. American citizens busting out windows and breaking into the legislative hall. One insurrectionist proudly carried a Confederate flag as he and his fellow rioters disrupted a key part of America’s tradition of peacefully transferring power from one duly elected president to the next.

For the first time since the war of 1812, when British troops breached the Capitol, the building the US secret service calls “punchbowl” was taken by an armed mob. For a time, protesters essentially controlled the United States Senate chamber. If it were not for one fast-thinking Senate employee, the traitors likely would have seized the official electoral college certification documents sent by each state and burned them outside.

Pence, once the Senate reconvened on Wednesday night, called it a “dark day” in American history. But it was the boss to whom he has shown so much fealty for four years who instigated the riot and takeover of the Capitol.

“Republicans are constantly fighting, like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back. It's like a boxer. And we want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people. And we're going to have to fight much harder,” Trump said at a midday rally. “And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country because you're sworn to uphold our constitution.”

“We're going to walk down to the Capitol. And we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them,” Trump said to wild cheers. “Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

His loyalists dutifully followed their implied orders.

But at what cost?

The smoke, quite literally, has cleared and the sun has risen on a new day in Washington.

There are many unanswered questions: Why does Trump deserve to serve his final 13 days in office? Where were the Capitol Police, and why did they show this angry white mob such deference?

Why was that law enforcement entity not better prepared and supported by the national guard and other federal personnel at the Capitol before the Trump mob began its vengeance-fuelled march across town? Will any of the traitors be arrested and prosecuted? Will Trump’s cabinet and Pence use the 25th amendment to remove the president from office?

“Mr Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country," his first defence secretary, retired marine corps general James Mattis, said after the shocking violence fomented by his former boss. But 74.2 million Americans voted for him.  Trump has turned the Republican Party into a cult. Another question: Has this populist hardliner finally learned his lesson?

We got that answer early on Thursday morning, in that statement-by-tweet.

“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 20 January,” he said. “I have always said we would continue our ... fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted,” he said. “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!”

Even after a deadly day like Wednesday, the president used the word “fight” twice in that statement and continued pushing his baseless conspiracy theories. Trump appears to have learned nothing.

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