Biden Says He Expects To Contest In 2024 When He Will Be 82

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about Monday’s mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, in the State Dining Room at the White House on March 23, 2021 in Washington, DC.

 

US President Joe Biden said Thursday his “expectation” is to run for reelection in 2024, an apparent effort to douse speculation that the oldest person to assume the office will step down after a single term.

The Democratic president also attacked Republican efforts to limit voting, describing the actions in dozens of states that would make it more difficult for millions of people to cast ballots as “sick” and “un-American.”

In his first extended grilling by reporters since taking office on January 20, the 78-year-old president faced questions on topics from immigration and North Korea to whether he would support an end to the filibuster blocking tactic in the US Senate.

When asked about his political future barely two months into his presidency, though, Biden chuckled and said: “My plan is to run for reelection. That’s my expectation.”

When pressed, he added that he is “a great respecter of fate” and did not make firm plans so far in advance, but that if he does run in 2024 he “would fully expect” that Vice President Kamala Harris would be on the ticket.

“She’s doing a great job, she’s a great partner,” he said.

Biden also shrugged off whether he believed 2024 would be a rematch with former president Donald Trump, saying he had “no idea” whether the brash and embattled businessman would run.

Biden won the November election with record turnout that helped him beat Trump by more than seven million votes.

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Republican lawmakers in several states have since begun drafting a series of changes to election law that would restrict voting, in moves that would likely hurt Democrats more than Republicans.

Democrats have branded the effort as the most direct assault on American democracy since the Jim Crow era, when state and local governments passed laws that legalized racial segregation.

File photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the State Dining Room following the passage of the American Rescue Plan in the U.S. Samuel Corum/Getty Images/AFP

 

During a question-and-answer session, Biden swatted aside concerns that such moves to curtail voting rights could cause his party to lose control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.

“What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick,” Biden said.

“Deciding that you’re going to end voting at five o’clock, when working people are just getting off work? Deciding that there will be no absentee ballots under the most rigid circumstances?” Biden said, citing examples of the proposed changes.

“The Republican voters I know find this despicable,” he said, adding he would “do everything in my power… to keep that from becoming the law.”

AFP

Donald Trump Says He Might Run For US President In 2024

File photo: Ex-U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. U.S. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

 

Donald Trump told conservatives Sunday he was considering running for president again in 2024, as he reasserted dominance over the Republican Party and warned of a “struggle” for America’s very survival.

Echoing the grievance politics of his 2016 campaign and the harsh rhetoric of his one-term presidency, the 74-year-old fired up an enthusiastic crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.

In a keynote speech — his first since leaving the White House on January 20 — he repeated his false claims that he won the election instead of President Joe Biden, and hammered establishment Republicans who voted against him in the latest impeachment drama.

But while he teased his future plans, he left the crowd guessing about whether he will challenge Biden in a rematch.

“With your help we will take back the House, we will win the Senate, and then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House — and I wonder who that will be?” Trump said to a raucous cheer.

“Who knows?” he boomed about his potential plans. “I may even decide to beat them for a third time, OK?”

Banned from Twitter and other social media, Trump has maintained a low post-presidential profile at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

At CPAC, he walked on stage to revel in a lengthy standing ovation by cheering loyalists, the vast majority maskless despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Like he did so often during his two campaigns, he painted a pitched battle against as Democrats’ “socialist” agenda to remake the nation.

“We’re in a struggle for the survival of America as we know it,” Trump said. “This is a terrible, terrible, painful struggle.”

But he said the “incredible” populist movement that propelled him to victory four plus years ago is just beginning, “and in the end, we will win.”

Trump also put to rest the rumors that he might take his base of support to create a new political party.

“I am not starting a new party,” Trump said. “We have the Republican Party. It’s going to unite and be stronger than ever before.”

Trump as expected took swipes at Biden, saying the Democrat just concluded a “disastrous” first month in office.

In his rambling 90-minute speech he attacked immigrants, slammed “cancel culture,” criticized Biden policies on climate change and energy, and repeated his false claims that “illegal” actions by Democrats had cost him the election.

But he also took aim at Republicans he feels betrayed him — a strong signal that he will seek to help oust them in upcoming elections.

He called out by name the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him in the House of Representatives, and the seven Republicans who voted unsuccessfully to convict him in the Senate.

“Get rid of them all,” he seethed, while the crowd jeered.

Trump remains the most potent force in the Republican Party, something he made clear he was acutely aware of Sunday when he described his own endorsement as “the most powerful asset in politics.”

– ‘Cautionary note’ –

US political parties usually face a reckoning after a string of setbacks such as those the Republicans saw under four years of Trump: losing the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The party is also marked with Trump’s repeated lies about his election loss, his impeachment over inciting the US Capitol riot on January 6, and the faultline his actions have caused between establishment Republicans and pro-Trump populists.

But, instead of jettisoning its troubled leader and charting a new path, much of the party still sees Trump as retaining a vice-like grip on its future.

At least at CPAC, enthusiasm for Trump remained sky high. Attendees posed next to a shiny gold-colored statue of the former president, and cheers rose up whenever panelists praised him.

In a straw poll conducted at the conference, nearly seven in 10 respondents said they want him to run again.

On future direction for the party, support for Trumpism was rock solid, with 95 percent of respondents wanting to continue Trump’s policies and agenda.

But when asked who they prefer as the party’s 2024 nominee, a moderate 55 percent chose Trump, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis a distant second on 21 percent.

Veteran Republican strategist Karl Rove said he would have expected a stronger result for Trump, especially at a gathering so supportive of the ex-president.

“I’d take that as a cautionary note,” Rove said on Fox News.

For some Republicans like Senator Bill Cassidy, who voted to convict Trump, moving on from the brash billionaire is critical.

Republicans can win “by speaking to those issues important to the American people,” he told CNN, “not by putting one person on a pedestal.”

 

AFP

New York Prosecutors Obtain Trump’s Tax Records – Spokesman

(FILES) In this file photo former US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

New York prosecutors investigating former president Donald Trump’s finances have received his tax returns following a marathon legal battle, a spokesman said Thursday.

“Our office obtained the records on Monday,” Danny Frost, a spokesman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, told AFP.

Vance’s office obtained the returns after the Supreme Court on Monday rejected a last-ditch bid by Trump’s lawyers to block the release of the records.

The prosecutor is investigating hush payments made to two women who allege they had affairs with Trump and possible fraud.

Vance, a Democrat, fought for over a year to obtain the eight years of returns.

He issued a subpoena to Trump’s accountants Mazars USA in August 2019 ordering the company to furnish documents stretching back to 2011.

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Vance’s probe was initially focused on payments made before the 2016 presidential election to two women who claim they had affairs with Trump, including porn star Stormy Daniels.

But the state-level investigation is also now examining possible allegations of tax evasion, and insurance and bank fraud.

Trump, who left the White House last month, called the investigation “a continuation of the greatest political witch hunt in the history of our country.”

US presidents are not required by law to release details of their personal finances but every US leader since Richard Nixon has done so.

Trump repeatedly said he would release them pending an audit but ultimately broke with the tradition.

Vance’s investigators have interviewed Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who received a three-year prison term after admitting making hush payments to the two women.

In this file photo taken on December 7, 2020 -ex-US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to wrestler Dan Gable in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. AFP

 

The ex-lawyer had testified to Congress that Trump and his company artificially inflated and devalued the worth of their assets to both obtain bank loans and reduce their taxes.

If Trump were charged and convicted he could face a possible jail term. Unlike federal offenses, state crimes are not subject to presidential pardons.

Investigators also recently interviewed employees of Deutsche Bank, which has long backed the former president and the Trump Organization, US media reported.

They spoke to staff at Trump’s insurance broker Aon, too.

Vance’s investigation is taking place behind closed doors in front of a Grand Jury.

It is unclear if and when it will lead to a prosecution, which would be the first of a former US president.

In July, the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s argument that as a sitting president he was immune from prosecution.

Trump’s lawyers then challenged the scope of the requested documents, saying it was too broad.

AFP

Democrats Unveil Immigration Reforms Offering Citizenship To 11 Million

File photo: House members, media and others are seen during a House Judiciary Committee markup of Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump at the Longworth House Office Building on Thursday, December 12, 2019, in Washington, DC. Matt McClain -Pool/Getty Images/AFP

Democrats unveiled legislation Thursday for President Joe Biden’s plan to create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, saying there is no justification for denying them a permanent home in the United States.

Biden called the policy reforms “long overdue” and said they were aimed at reversing the “misguided policies” of his predecessor Donald Trump, who mounted a hardline effort to halt illegal immigration, slash legal immigration and drive out undocumented immigrants, even those in the country for decades.

The new proposal aims to give legal protections to millions of people, mostly from Mexico and central America, who have lived in the country for many years, with homes, businesses and US-born children and grandchildren.

READ ALSO: Blasphemy: Italian Football Federation Fines Juventus Goalkeeper Buffon $6,000

“Immigration is an irrefutable source of our strength and is essential to who we are as a nation,” Biden said in a statement.

“This is an important first step in pursuing immigration policies that unite families, grow and enhance our economy, and safeguard our security,” he said.

The main focus of the legislation is to offer an eight-year path to citizenship to most of the undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States.

Some, including farmworkers and people brought to the country as children — so-called Dreamers — will get an immediate path to permanent residency or a “green card,” allowing them to work legally.

Others addressed include thousands of people in the United States under temporary protected status (TPS) due to violent upheavals or natural disasters in their home countries.

And, underscoring the Biden administration’s reversal from Trump’s strident anti-immigration policies, the legislation also proposes the end of calling undocumented immigrants “aliens” in US law.

Instead, they will be referred to as “non-citizens.”

– ‘Moral imperative’ –
“It’s time to bring all 11 million undocumented out of the shadows,” said Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, a leading backer of the legislation.

“We have an economic and moral imperative to pass big, bold and inclusive immigration reform that leaves no one behind, not our dreamers and TPS holders, not our farmworkers and meatpackers, not our essential workers, not our parents, friends, and neighbors,” he said.

Menendez noted that many of the immigrants work in the farm, food, and healthcare industries that have been essential during the Covid-19 pandemic, while risking higher rates of coronavirus infection and death.

“They are essential workers, so essential that our economy would not function without them. Yet they live under constant fear,” he said.

Biden announced on January 20, his first day in office, that he would pursue comprehensive reforms to immigration laws to lay out a more “humane” and “just” system.

A major focus is the Dreamers, people brought to the United States illegally as children who grew up here.

Biden was vice president in the administration of President Barack Obama, who sought citizenship for Dreamers, only to be forced to compromise with Republicans for short-term measures.

Trump attempted to reverse the Dreamers program as part of more than 400 executive orders to curb immigration and punish the undocumented.

But it was only partially reinstated, leaving the status of millions uncertain.

Besides offering a pathway to citizenship for millions already living in the United States, Biden wants a more forgiving policy at the border, ending Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach and reuniting families separated by it.

Menendez called on Democrats to take advantage of their narrow control of both houses of Congress to push through the legislation.

Republicans condemned it, saying the changes would lead to a new border crisis as people from Central American countries flock north with hopes of entering the United States.

“This blatantly partisan proposal rewards those who broke the law, floods the labor market at a time when millions of Americans are out of work, fails to secure the border, and incentivizes further illegal immigration,” said Republican Representative Jim Jordan.

In another immigration-related move Thursday, the Biden administration ordered US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to limit its apprehension and expulsion of illegal immigrants mainly to those who constitute national security risks.

Under Trump, ICE conducted roundups and deportations against migrants with even minor infractions such as traffic violations.

AFP

Republican ‘Complicity’ With Trump ‘Endangers America’ – House Speaker

In this file photo taken on December 3, 2020 US President Donald Trump speaks before awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to retired football coach Lou Holtz in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP
In this file photo taken on December 3, 2020 US President Donald Trump speaks before awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to retired football coach Lou Holtz in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

The top Democrat in the US House of Representatives accused Republicans on Monday of endangering America by blocking moves to immediately remove President Donald Trump from office.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed Republican lawmakers for blocking a resolution introduced by Democrats calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution and remove Trump from the White House.

READ ALSO: Trump Twitter Ban Problematic, Says Merkel

“The House Republicans rejected this legislation to protect America, enabling the president’s unhinged, unstable and deranged acts of sedition to continue,” Pelosi said in a statement.

“Their complicity endangers America, erodes our democracy, and it must end.”

 

File photo: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) presides over Resolution 755 as the House of Representatives votes on the second article of impeachment of US President Donald Trump at in the House Chamber at the US Capitol Building on December 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

 

The move came after a violent mob, egged on in a speech and social media posts by Trump, stormed the US Capitol last week as lawmakers were certifying Joe Biden’s election victory over Trump.

“On Wednesday, the President incited a deadly insurrection against America that targeted the very heart of our Democracy,” Pelosi said.

“The president represents an imminent threat to our constitution, our country and the American people, and he must be removed from office immediately,” she added.

Pelosi said a vote would be held in the House on Tuesday on the demand by Democrats that Pence invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office.

“We are further calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours after passage,” she said.

“As our next step, we will move forward with bringing impeachment legislation to the floor,” the speaker of the Democratic-controlled House said.

“The president’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action.”

AFP

 

Biden Urged To Renounce Sole Control Of US Nuclear Weapons

US President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 25, 2020. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP
File photo: US President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 25, 2020. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP

 

A former US defense secretary has called on President-elect Joe Biden to reform the system that gives sole control of the nation’s nuclear arsenal to the president, calling it “outdated, unnecessary and extremely dangerous.”

The call from William Perry came the same day US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with the nation’s top military leader about ensuring that an “unhinged” President Donald Trump not be able to launch a nuclear attack in his final days in office.

“Once in office, Biden should announce he would share authority to use nuclear weapons with a select group in Congress,” said Perry, who served under President Bill Clinton.

He was writing in Politico magazine with Tom Collina of the Ploughshares Fund, which advocates for stronger nuclear controls.

READ ALSO: Facebook And Twitter Block Trump’s Account For Breaking Rules

They said Biden, who takes office January 20, should also declare that the United States will never start a nuclear war and would use the bomb only in retaliation.

The piece argues that the current system gives the president — any president — “the godlike power to deliver global destruction in an instant,” an approach the authors call “undemocratic, outdated, unnecessary and extremely dangerous.”

Perry, who was defense minister from 1994 to 1997, calls Trump “unhinged” and adds, “Do we really think that Trump is responsible enough to trust him with the power to end the world?”

American presidents are accompanied at all times by a military aide who carries a briefcase known as “the football” which contains the secret codes and information needed to launch a nuclear strike.

Perry and Collina warn that presidents possess the “absolute authority to start a nuclear war.

“Within minutes, Trump can unleash hundreds of atomic bombs, or just one. He does not need a second opinion. The Defense secretary has no say. Congress has no role.”

They then ask: “Why are we taking this risk?”

Such vast presidential authority, the article notes, dates from the waning days of World War II, when president Harry Truman decided, after the nuclear horror unleashed by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, that the power to order the use of atomic weapons should not be left in the hands of the military — that it should be up to the president alone.

AFP

Learn From Events Of US Election, PDP Tells APC

Ex-Adamawa Deputy Governor Tahir Dumps PDP For APC
A photo combination of the PDP and APC logos.

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the All Progressives Congress (APC) to take a cue from the events of the United States presidential election.

In a statement on Friday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party believes the triumph of democratic institutions in the handling of issues related to the poll has again highlighted the demands by Nigerians on the Muhammadu Buhari administration to allow the institutions of democracy to function.

It noted that the US election was a strong lesson to “corrupt and power-drunk leaders” that no matter the desperate attempt to manipulate the system, the will of the people and the Constitution would always prevail.

The main opposition party asserted that the insistence of the US judiciary and the legislature on the provisions of their nation’s Constitution has reinforced the triumph of the collective will of a people through their system.

It alleged that Nigeria’s institutions of democracy, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies, were manipulated in the 2019 general elections.

The PDP, however, stated that the US experience has strengthened the determination by Nigerians to stand up against any manipulation ahead of the 2023 polls.

It called on Nigerians, including those in INEC, the judiciary, the legislature, security forces, and faith-based organisations, among others to join the movement to reposition and strengthen the nation’s institutions for the task ahead.

The statement read,

It is instructive to state that this is the only way to reposition our nation on the path of good governance, political stability, national cohesion, and economic prosperity.

There is no overstressing the fact that for the strong institutions put in place by patriotic leaders of the United States, that nation would have been thrown into terrible turmoil or succumb to a chaotic order that would have no regard for the law and the will of the people,” the party said.

Our party, therefore, urges the Buhari Presidency to check all acts that weaken our institutions and encourage the manipulation of our security, judiciary, legislative and electoral bodies.

Mr President should take steps to ensure reforms that would strengthen our system, including ending all acts of nepotism in appointments into such sensitive institutions.

The American example equally underpins the demand for public officers, particularly the APC leadership in the National Assembly, to begin to pay greater loyalty to our country and her interest over the parochial interest of their party or the executive arm.

The patriotism displayed by American Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell, in rejecting the attempt to undermine their nation’s electoral system is a direct call on APC leaders in the National Assembly against the unpatriotic practice of putting narrow partisan interests above the national interest.

Moreover, the APC must stop being a community of people with common selfish interests and desperation for personal enrichment, who are not ready to stand up for the truth in the face of acts of injustice, deprivation and callousness against the Nigerians people and our constitutional order.

US Unrest Is A ‘Disgrace For Democracy’ – Turkish President Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech after cabinet meeting at Presidential Complex in Ankara on November 3, 2020. Adem ALTAN / AFP
File photo: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech after cabinet meeting at Presidential Complex in Ankara on November 3, 2020. Adem ALTAN / AFP

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday called the storming of the US Congress by Donald Trump’s supporters a disgrace that has “shocked humankind”.

Erdogan had developed a close personal friendship with the outgoing US leader and had waited three days before congratulating Joe Biden over his November 3 presidential election win.

READ ALSO: US Education Secretary Resigns From Trump’s Cabinet

But he pulled no punched in condemning what happened on Wednesday in, as Erdogan put it, “the so-called cradle of democracy”.

“This is a disgrace for democracy,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.

“We hope that the transition to Mr Biden on January 20 will be peaceful and that America will go back to being at peace.”

Erdogan also extended condolences to the families of those who died in the violence.

Ankara’s relations with Washington suffered from a failed 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan that he blames on a US Muslim preacher Turkey has unsuccessfully sought to extradite.

But Erdogan’s friendship with Trump has helped shield Turkey from past sanctions and also muted US criticism of Erdogan’s deteriorating record on human rights.

Erdogan’s comments Friday represented one of his strongest repudiations to date of the Trump administration.

The Turkish foreign ministry had issued a more muted statement late Wednesday urging the US to “overcome this internal political crisis in a mature manner”.

AFP

US President-Elect Biden Names Economic Team

File photo: President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre on November 25, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Mark Makela/Getty Images/AFP

 

US President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled his picks for commerce secretary, labor secretary and small business administrator to fill his incoming economics team.

The transition named Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and former Obama official Isabel Guzman as nominees for the three positions, respectively.

“With two dozen cabinet nominees announced, President-elect Biden has put forward the most diverse cabinet in American history,” the Biden team said in a statement.

Biden had already revealed choices for part of his economic team in early December, composed mostly of women, minorities and those who had served under former president Barack Obama.

Most notable was former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary.

“They share my belief that the middle class built this country and that unions built the middle class,” Biden said of the group he has assembled, according to the statement.

The new officials’ priority will be “digging us out from the worst jobs crisis in nearly a century by supporting small businesses, dramatically increasing union density, and rebuilding the backbone of America — our middle class,” the transition’s statement said.

READ ALSO: US Education Secretary Resigns From Trump’s Cabinet

Last spring, the Covid-19 pandemic triggered the worst financial crisis since 1929, with millions of Americans losing their jobs or seeing their hours cut.

US President-elect Joe Biden speaks after a meeting with governors in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 19, 2020.(Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

 

 

If her nomination is confirmed by the Senate, Raimondo would take on business-government relations, handling issues such as trade wars instigated by outgoing President Donald Trump and how to regulate tech giants.

Walsh would be the first union leader to head the Department of Labor in 50 years, according to the Biden statement, and would take on such tasks as reviewing working conditions disrupted by the pandemic.

AFP

Trump Pledges ‘Orderly Transition’ After Congress Affirmed Biden’s Win

File photo: US President Donald Trump delivers an update on “Operation Warp Speed” in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on November 13, 2020. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

Outgoing US President Donald Trump on Thursday offered the clearest signal yet that he will voluntarily leave office on January 20, saying there will be an “orderly transition” to Joe Biden’s presidency.

“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,” Trump said in a statement minutes after the US Congress formally certified Biden’s victory.

READ ALSO: Former US Presidents Denounce Capitol Violence

“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,” he added, hinting at a potential 2024 run.

AFP

US Congress Certifies Joe Biden As Winner Of Presidential Election Despite Mob Violence

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden gestures after speaking during election night at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, early on November 4, 2020. ANGELA WEISS / AFP
File photo: President-elect Joe Biden gestures after speaking during election night at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, early on November 4, 2020. ANGELA WEISS / AFP

 

The US Congress on Thursday certified Joe Biden’s win in November’s presidential election, hours after President Trump’s supporters laid siege on the Capitol on Wednesday.

Republican Vice President Mike Pence certified the Electoral College count of 306 electors in favor of the Democrat against 232 in favor of outgoing Republican President Donald Trump.

Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives successfully beat back Republican efforts to deny Biden the electoral votes needed to win, prompting loud cheers when the certification was announced.

READ ALSO: Former US Presidents Denounce Capitol Violence

The affirmation of Biden’s 306-232 victory over Trump in November essentially closes the door on the unparalleled and deeply controversial effort by Trump and his loyalists to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

 

Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi preside over a Joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 Electoral College results after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol earlier in the day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on January 6, 2020. Erin Schaff / POOL / AFP

 

The president immediately released a statement pledging an “orderly transition” but suggesting he would remain in frontline politics, amid speculation that he may run again in 2024.

“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,” he said.

“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 certification came hours after a mob breached the US Capitol and sent lawmakers scrambling for safety. They were able to return hours later, shaken but determined to complete the task.

Egged on in an extraordinary rally across town by an aggrieved Trump, a flag-waving mob had broken down barricades outside the Capitol and swarmed inside, rampaging through offices and onto the usually solemn legislative floors.

Security forces fired tear gas in a four-hour operation to clear the Capitol. Police said that one woman, reportedly a female Trump partisan from southern California, was shot and killed and that three other people died in the area in circumstances that were unclear.

One Trump backer in jeans and a baseball cap was pictured propping a leg up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk, as throngs climbed onto risers set up for Biden’s inauguration.

 

Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

 

Another held a banner that read: “We the people will bring DC to its knees/We have the power.”

Biden called the violence an “insurrection” and demanded that Trump immediately go on national television to tell the rioters to stand down.

“Our democracy’s under unprecedented assault,” Biden said in his home state of Delaware.

“This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now.”

Trump soon afterward released a video in which he called on the mob to leave but repeated his unfounded claims of election fraud.

“We have to have peace. So go home. We love you — you’re very special,” he said.

In a significant new crackdown, social media companies pulled down the video on charges it aggravated violence and Twitter temporarily suspended his account, warning the tweet-loving tycoon of a permanent ban if he does not conform to rules on civic integrity.

– Democracy ‘death spiral’ –
The chaos at the Capitol came a day after Biden enjoyed a new triumph, with his Democrats projected to win two Senate seats in runoffs in Georgia — handing the party full control of Congress and dramatically increasing Biden’s ability to pass legislation, starting with new Covid-19 relief.

 

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. ALEX EDELMAN / AFP

 

Historians said it was the first time that the Capitol had been taken over since 1814 when the British burned it during the War of 1812.

For more than two centuries, the joint session of Congress has been a quiet, ceremonial event that formally certifies the election winner.

But Trump urged members of his Republican Party to dispute the outcome.

Congress rejected challenges to Biden’s win in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Efforts were made to challenge the counts in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin, but after the mob violence Senate Republicans dropped objections to Biden’s wins there, eliminating any need for debate.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, closely aligned with Trump throughout his presidency, had tried to prevent the challenges. He noted that the election results were not even close, and that dozens of courts had thrown out lawsuits alleging irregularities.

“If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” McConnell said.

But Senator Josh Hawley, who has taken the lead on the effort and is seen as a future Republican presidential aspirant, insisted on going ahead even after the mob attack.

“Violence is not how you achieve change,” the 41-year-old senator said, insisting that he wanted to offer a “lawful process” to Trump supporters to assess their unfounded claims of fraud.

– ‘Everlasting shame’ –
Senator Mitt Romney, one of Trump’s most vocal critics inside the Republican Party, pointedly said that the best way to respect voters “is to tell them the truth.”

“Those who continue to support this dangerous gambit,” Romney said, “will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.”

With Democrats already in control of the House of Representatives, there was never any chance that Congress would overturn Biden’s victory.

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who is set to become majority leader after Tuesday’s election victories, described the violence as an attempted coup and said it would be remembered in US history much like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

“This mob was in good part President Trump’s doing, incited by his words, his lies,” Schumer said, adding that Trump would bear “everlasting shame.”

Former president Barack Obama called the violence “a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation.”

“But we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise,” Obama said, adding that it was “incited” by Trump, “who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election.”

Former president George W. Bush also did not mince words, saying: “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic.”

– Calls to remove Trump –
Trump has only two weeks left in office but, with little on his public schedule for weeks and multiple reports he is losing his grip on reality, several news reports said his cabinet was whispering about removing him as unfit for office under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.

“President Trump’s willingness to incite violence and social unrest to overturn the election results by force clearly meet this standard,” all Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence.

In an angry, rambling speech outside the White House before the violence, Trump urged his supporters to march to the Capitol and demanded that Pence, who ceremonially led the session, intervene to reverse their loss.

The vice president refused, and it was ultimately Pence standing before the joint session of Congress who announced his and Trump’s loss to Biden and incoming Vice President Kamala Harris.

Thousands of Trump supporters headed to Washington at his urging in recent days, with downtown businesses boarding up in fear of violence and Mayor Muriel Bowser ordering a curfew Wednesday night.

AFP

Leaked Audiotape: Outrage Over Trump’s Request To ‘Find’ Votes For Him In Georgia

President Donald Trump

The release on Sunday by US media of a stunning audiotape in which President Donald Trump pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes to overturn his election defeat there to Democrat Joe Biden sent shockwaves across Washington.

The tape, a rebel push by scores of Republican lawmakers to challenge Biden’s electoral win later this week, a pair of runoff elections in Georgia to decide control of the US Senate and expected pro-Trump protests in Washington are combining to set the stage for a fiery week in American politics.

Lawmakers got back to work Sunday on Capitol Hill, where Democrat Nancy Pelosi was narrowly reelected as speaker of the House of Representatives, but the real political fireworks are to come later in the week.

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Following the release of the recording, Democrats and a few Republicans heaped scorn on the outgoing president, who fired off a tweetstorm of unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the November 3 election.

The taped conversation between Trump and fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, first obtained by The Washington Post, includes vague threats by Trump that Raffensperger and another official could face “a big risk” if they failed to take moves toward overturning Biden’s victory.

“There’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated” the vote tally, Trump is heard saying on the tape. “You’re off by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

Raffensperger is heard responding: “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”

Biden won the long Republican-leaning state by fewer than 12,000 votes — a narrow margin, but one that has remained unchanged through a series of recounts and audits.

“The current margin is only 11,779. Brad, I think you agree with that, right?” Trump says. “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes.”

Making Trump’s call more surprising is the fact that even a hypothetical reversal in Georgia, which has 16 Electoral College votes, would not overturn victory by Biden, who won by a margin of 306 to 232.

Ahead of the release of the audio, Trump tweeted about the call, saying that Raffensperger “was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters’, dead voters, and more.”

Raffensperger tweeted back, also ahead of the release of the audio, saying: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”

After the release, the White House declined to comment.

Democrats reacted furiously.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris slammed it as “the voice of desperation” and a “bald-faced, bold abuse of power by the President of the United States” during a rally in Savannah, Georgia.

One moderate Republican, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, tweeted: “This is absolutely appalling. To every member of Congress considering objecting to the election results, you cannot — in light of this — do so with a clean conscience.”

 

– Key elections in Georgia –

It was unclear what impact the tape’s release might have on the twin runoff elections in Georgia on Tuesday, which will decide who controls the US Senate.

Both Trump and Biden are due to appear at rallies in the southern state on Monday.

Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are facing off against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively.

Victory by Ossoff and Warnock would give Democrats, and Biden, a major boost — Senate seats would be evenly divided between the parties at 50 each, but incoming Vice President Harris would wield a tie-breaking vote. Democrats already control the House.

“This is going to be a very tough battle but it is absolutely within the realm of possibility — in fact, the realm of likelihood — the Democrats can win,” Stacey Abrams, the charismatic former Georgia lawmaker who has emerged as a party leader, told CNN on Sunday.

 

– ‘Time to move forward’ –

News of the Trump tape came hours after the US Congress opened its new session Sunday.

Pelosi, the highest-ranking woman in the history of US politics, will serve another term as speaker of the House after her reelection.

Congress will convene in a rare joint session on Wednesday to certify Biden’s election result — but it will not be the usual dry pro forma affair.

So far, 12 Republican senators loyal to Trump have announced plans to block certification, instead demanding the formation of a special commission to do an “emergency” election audit.

With Democrats controlling the House and many Senate Republicans expected to confirm Biden’s victory, the rebel effort is all but certain to fail, but it has raised tensions on Capitol Hill.

It has also underscored a sharp divide within the president’s party, as Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has asked his caucus to respect the Electoral College result.

Senator Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential candidate, called the campaign an “egregious ploy” that served only to “enhance the political ambition of some.”

He and a bipartisan coalition of senators on Sunday called on Congress to certify the result, saying: “The 2020 election is over… It is time to move forward.”

Pro-Trump protesters not quite willing to concede are expected to rally in Washington on Wednesday.

Trump, who has urged thousands to support his cause, tweeted Sunday: “I will be there. Historic day!”

AFP