Donald Trump has issued a statement asserting that there will be “an orderly transition” to Joe Biden’s new administration on 20 January in response to a shocking night of deadly violence that saw the Republican’s supporters storm the US Capitol in a bid to stop Congress certifying November’s election results.
“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,” the statement declares.
“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!”
The belated announcement from Mr Trump follows months of his refusing to commit to a peaceful transition of power in the event that he was defeated in last November’s election.
When he was, losing the Electoral College to Mr Biden by 306-232 and the popular vote by a margin of 7m ballots, Mr Trump continued to insist the contest was “rigged”, riling up his supporters by pushing unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about manipulated voting machines and corrupt officials on Twitter and seeing over 60 legal challenges thrown out of court as his farcical challenge to the results failed to uncover any proof whatsoever of the “mass voter fraud" he alleged.
The president meanwhile continued to raise funds from his supporters to bankroll his cause as he insisted the election had been “stolen” from him, his pursuit of the fantasy already being credited with costing the Republican Party Tuesday’s crucial runoff elections in Georgia, which saw GOP candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue lose their seats to Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff and the balance of power in the US Senate flipped.
His campaign of outrage culminated in the ugly scenes that took place in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, when supporters egged on by conservative media pundits from Fox News, Newsmax and OANN as well as Republican Trump loyalists like senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, forced through police barriers to break into the US Capitol.
Four people were killed and at least 52 arrested before order was restored in an event that marked the first time the seat of American democracy had been breached since 1814.
As the disturbing scenes of self-appointed militia bearing guns, invading offices and looting were shared across the world, Mr Trump finally took to Twitter to call for the rioters to go home, nevertheless insisting that their demonstrations were just and telling them they were “very special” for their efforts.
His video was quickly censored by Twitter before being taken down, with Facebook and SnapChat likewise moving to block the president’s accounts to prevent the further incitement of unrest.
By contrast, President-elect Biden delivered a message of his own from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, condemning the actions of the demonstrators in full-throated terms as “an insurrection”.
“At this hour, our democracy's under unprecedented assault. Unlike anything we've seen in modern times. An assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself,” he said.
“Let me be very clear. The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America. Do not represent who we are. What we're seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It's disorder. It's chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now.”
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill - who had to go into hiding when the invaders began entering government buildings - have since returned to the Senate chamber to complete the certification of the election results, confirming Mr Biden as the winner.
Their colleagues, notably Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar, have already begun demanding that Mr Trump be impeached for a second time and discussed his removal from office - two weeks ahead of schedule - by invoking the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, ruling him unfit to serve by representing a danger to the country.
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