Inauguration: Biden To Sign Executive Orders On Day One Amid High Alert

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

 

Joe Biden’s top aide said Saturday the incoming president would sign about a dozen executive orders on his first day in office, as police fearing violence from Trump supporters staged a nationwide security operation ahead of the inauguration.

Authorities in Washington, where Wednesday’s inauguration will take place, said they arrested a man with a loaded handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition at a security checkpoint, underscoring the tension in the US capital which is resembling a war zone.

However, the man said it was “an honest mistake,” and that he was a private security guard who got lost on his way to work near the Capitol.

READ ALSO: Man With Gun, Over 500 Rounds Of Ammunition Arrested Near US Capitol

Incoming Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said in a memo to new White House senior staff that the executive orders would address the pandemic, the ailing US economy, climate change and racial injustice in America.

“All of these crises demand urgent action,” Klain said in the memo.

“In his first ten days in office, President-elect Biden will take decisive action to address these four crises, prevent other urgent and irreversible harms, and restore America’s place in the world,” Klain added.

As he inherits the White House from Donald Trump, Biden’s plate is overflowing with acute challenges.

 

This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP
This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

The US is fast approaching 400,000 dead from the Covid-19 crisis and logging well over a million new cases a week as the coronavirus spreads out of control.

The economy is ailing, with 10 million fewer jobs available compared to the start of the pandemic. And millions of Americans who back Trump refuse to recognize Biden as the legitimate president.

Biden this week unveiled plans to seek $1.9 trillion to revive the economy through new stimulus payments and other aid, and plans a blitz to accelerate America’s stumbling Covid vaccine rollout effort.

On Inauguration Day Biden, as previously promised, will sign orders including ones for the US to rejoin the Paris climate accord and reverse Trump’s ban on entry of people from certain Muslim majority countries, Klain said.

“President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward,” Klain said.

– 500 rounds of ammunition –
Meanwhile, Washington was under a state of high alert after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6. The assault left five people dead, including a police officer.

Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists, possibly carrying explosives, pose a threat to Washington as well as state capitals over the coming week.

Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed in Washington and streets have been blocked off downtown with concrete barriers.

On Friday night, police arrested a Virginia man at a security checkpoint where he tried to use an “unauthorized” credential to access the restricted area where Biden will be inaugurated.

As officers checked the credential, one noticed decals on the back of Wesley Beeler’s pick-up truck that said “Assault Life,” with an image of a rifle, and another with the message: “If they come for your guns, give ’em your bullets first,” according to a document filed in Washington, DC Superior Court.

Under questioning, Beeler told officers he had a Glock handgun in the vehicle. A search uncovered a loaded handgun, more than 500 rounds of ammunition, shotgun shells and a magazine for the gun, the court document said.

Beeler was arrested on charges including possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.

“It was an honest mistake,” Beeler told The Washington Post after being released from jail.

“I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in DC because I’m a country boy,” he said. “I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me.”

Beeler told the newspaper he works as a private security guard near the Capitol, and presented a credential provided by his employer.

 

Flags and a podium are in place as preparations are made ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 16, 2021.ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP

 

He said he was licensed to carry his gun in Virginia, but forgot to take it out of his car before leaving home for his overnight shift in Washington.

Prosecutors did not object to Beeler’s release from jail, the Washington Post said, though he was ordered to stay out of Washington except for court-related matters.

In addition to the heavy security presence in the US capital, law enforcement was out in force at statehouses around the country to ward off potential political violence.

Mass protests that had been planned for the weekend did not materialize on Saturday, with security far outnumbering Trump supporters at several fortified capitols, US media reported.

In St Paul, Minnesota, for example, hundreds of law enforcement officers, some armed with long guns, ringed the Capitol with National Guard troops providing backup.

The number of protesters totaled about 50.

AFP

YouTube Suspends Trump Channel For A Week Over Violence Fears

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

 

Google-owned YouTube on Tuesday temporarily suspended President Donald Trump’s channel and removed a video for violating its policy against inciting violence, joining other social media platforms in banning his accounts after last week’s Capitol riot.

Trump’s access to the social media platforms he has used as a megaphone during his presidency has been largely cut off since a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington DC last week.

Operators say the embittered leader could use his accounts to foment more unrest in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“In light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies,” YouTube said in a statement.

The channel is now “temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a ‘minimum’ of 7 days,” the statement read.

The video-sharing platform also said it will be “indefinitely disabling comments” on Trump’s channel because of safety concerns.

Facebook last week suspended Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following the violent invasion of the US Capitol, which temporarily disrupted the certification of Biden’s election victory.

In announcing the suspension last week, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Trump used the platform to incite violent and was concerned he would continue to do so.

Twitter went a step further by deleting Trump’s account, depriving him of his favorite platform. It was already marking his tweets disputing the election outcome with warnings.

The company also deleted more than 70,000 accounts linked to the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims, without any evidence, that Trump is waging a secret war against a global cabal of satanist liberals.

Trump also was hit with suspensions by services like Snapchat and Twitch.

The president’s YouTube account has amassed 2.77 million subscribers.

The home page of the Trump channel featured a month-old video of Trump casting doubt on the voting process in November’s presidential election, and had logged some 5.8 million views.

On Tuesday, an activist group called on YouTube to join other platforms in dumping Trump’s accounts, threatening an advertising boycott campaign.

AFP

US Carries Out First Federal Execution Of Woman In Decades

 

 

An American woman who murdered a pregnant dog breeder in order to steal her baby was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday, becoming the first female to be executed by US federal authorities in nearly seven decades.

The US Justice Department said Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 am Eastern Time (0631 GMT) at a penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

It said the execution was “in accordance with the capital sentence unanimously recommended by a federal jury and imposed by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri”.

The US Supreme Court cleared the way for Montgomery’s execution just hours earlier — despite doubts about her mental state — after the government of President Donald Trump had pushed for the application of the death penalty.

Montgomery’s defenders did not deny the seriousness of her crime: in 2004, she killed a pregnant 23-year-old in order to steal her baby.

But her lawyer Kelley Henry, in a statement, called the decision — the first for a female inmate since 1953 — a “vicious, unlawful, and unnecessary exercise of authoritarian power.”

“The craven bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight,” Henry said. “Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should feel shame.”

The execution came after a legal back-and-forth that ended with the country’s highest court allowing it to proceed.

Unable to have a child, Montgomery carefully identified her victim — 23-year-old dog breeder Bobbie Jo Stinnett — online.

Under the guise of buying a puppy, Montgomery went to Stinnett’s home, where she strangled her and cut the baby from her body.

In 2007 she was convicted of kidnapping resulting in death and handed a death sentence.

Her defenders believe that she suffered from severe mental health issues stemming from abuse she suffered as a child. She did not understand the meaning of her sentence, they said, a prerequisite for execution.

On Monday evening, a federal judge offered the defense a brief lifeline, ordering a stay of execution to allow time to assess Montgomery’s mental state.

“The record before the Court contains ample evidence that Ms. Montgomery’s current mental state is so divorced from reality that she cannot rationally understand the government’s rationale for her execution,” the ruling stated.

But an appeals court overturned that decision on Tuesday, leaving it up to the US Supreme Court to decide. It said the execution could go ahead.

– Clemency plea ignored –
Trump, like his many of his conservative constituents, is a strong supporter of the death penalty and ignored a plea for clemency from Montgomery’s supporters.

Despite the decline of capital punishment in the US and around the world, Trump’s administration resumed federal executions in July after a 17-year hiatus and has been carrying them out at an unprecedented rate ever since.

Since the summer, 10 Americans have died by lethal injection in Terre Haute. In addition to Montgomery, two men are scheduled for federal execution this week. Their executions were stayed on Tuesday due to them having contracted Covid-19.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin on Monday announced the introduction of legislation to end federal executions. It could be passed once president-elect Joe Biden takes office next week and Democrats regain control of the Senate.

In a scathing statement, Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun known for her activism against the death penalty, spoke over the weekend of federal prosecutors “working all day and through the nights” to counter the appeals of federal inmates.

“You may not have to see the fear or smell the sweat in the execution chamber, but your hand is in this,” Prejean wrote, urging them to “just say ‘no’ this week to working to get one woman and two men executed the week before the Inauguration” of Biden.

Former guards of the penitentiary in Terre Haute have written to the Justice Department to request that the executions be postponed until the penitentiary staff are vaccinated against Covid-19.

Between the executioners, guards, witnesses, and lawyers, an execution assembles dozens of people in a closed environment, which is conducive to the spread of the virus.

US states, including the deeply conservative Texas, have suspended executions for months due to the pandemic — unlike the federal government, which has pushed to carry out many before Trump leaves power.

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.

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

Democrats Forge Ahead To Impeach Trump, Again

Republican and Democrats clap as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) commends Capitol Police and law enforcement for their work after Pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the Capitol in the House chamber on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pool/Getty Images/AFP
Republican and Democrats clap as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) commends Capitol Police and law enforcement for their work after Pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the Capitol in the House chamber on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Pool/Getty Images/AFP

 

US Democrats said Sunday they would push to remove President Donald Trump from office during the final days of his administration after his supporters’ violent attack on the Capitol, with some Republicans supporting the move.

Trump could face a historic second impeachment before the January 20 inauguration of Democrat Joe Biden, at a time when the United States is hit by a surging pandemic, a flagging economy, and searing division.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, said there would be a resolution on Monday calling for the cabinet to remove Trump as unfit for office under the Constitution’s 25th amendment.

If Vice President Mike Pence does not agree to invoke the amendment, “we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation” in the House, Pelosi said.

“As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action,” she added.

Trump was already impeached once by the Democratic-controlled House in December 2019 for pressuring the Ukrainian president to dig up political dirt on Biden.

He was acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate.

Though time is running short, Democrats likely have the votes in the House to impeach Trump again and could draw increased Republican support for the move.

But they are unlikely to muster the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump in the 100-member Senate and remove him from office.

‘Incitement to violence’

Authorities are seeking to arrest more Trump supporters who violently stormed the Capitol on Wednesday after the president held a rally outside the White House repeating false claims that he had lost the election to Biden due to fraud.

Trump’s immediate resignation “is the best path forward,” Republican Senator Pat Toomey told CNN on Sunday, adding, “That would be a very good outcome.”

Toomey said that since losing the November 3 vote, Trump had “descended into a level of madness and engaged in activity that was absolutely unthinkable, and unforgivable.”

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was the first Republican senator to demand Trump’s resignation, saying, “I want him out.” House Republicans, including Adam Kinzinger on Sunday, have echoed that call.

The article of impeachment is set to charge Trump with inciting Wednesday’s violence, which left five people dead.

Hundreds of off-duty police on Sunday lined Constitution Avenue in Washington and saluted as a hearse rolled slowly by carrying the body of Brian Sicknick, the police officer who died in the attack on the Capitol.

Capitol security has been stepped up, with a seven-foot-tall (about two meters) black metal fence erected around the historic building. Extremists have threatened new action in the coming days both in Washington and state capitals.

Trump goes quiet

One reason Democrats might pursue conviction, even after Trump leaves office, is to prevent him from ever being able to run again for federal office.

The president is reportedly furious over Pence’s rejection of Trump’s vocal pressure to somehow intervene in the Congressional confirmation on Wednesday of the election result.

Trump has gone largely silent in recent days — making few statements and holding no news conferences. Twitter, his favored public platform, has banned him for language that could incite violence.

He plans to travel to Texas on Tuesday in one of his final trips as president to highlight his claims of building a border wall to keep immigrants from Mexico out of the US.

Senate rules mean the upper chamber would likely be unable to open an impeachment trial before January 19, and Toomey said he was unsure it was constitutionally possible to impeach someone once out of office.

Some Democrats, for their part, have expressed concern that a Senate trial would overshadow and hamper Biden’s efforts to quickly lay out his agenda, starting with the fight against the coronavirus and the need to support the economy.

“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days” at the start of his term to deal with the most urgent issues, Democratic House whip James Clyburn told CNN.

“Maybe we’ll send the articles sometime after that.”

But Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a centrist Democrat whose vote could be crucial in the new, evenly divided Senate, told CNN an impeachment after January 20 “doesn’t make any common sense whatsoever.”

AFP

Biden To Receive Second COVID Vaccine Dose Monday

President-elect Joe Biden (L) receives a COVID-19 Vaccination from nurse practitioner Tabe Masa at ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital on December 21, 2020, in Newark, Delaware. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images/AFP

 

US President-elect Joe Biden will receive his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, his office announced, three weeks after his first injection was broadcast live on TV to boost public confidence in the jab.

Biden, 78, told Americans “there’s nothing to worry about” when he got his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware on December 21.

His team said that his second jab would also be done in front of the media, without giving further details.

More than 374,000 people have died from the coronavirus in America, and Biden on Friday slammed President Donald Trump’s administration’s troubled distribution of vaccines as a “travesty.”

About 6.7 million Americans have so far received their first shot — far short of the target of 20 million by the end of 2020.

But 22.1 million doses have been distributed nationwide, underlining the logistical challenge of getting the injections administered to the elderly and health workers who are the priority.

Both vaccines currently authorized in the US, developed by Pfizer and Moderna, require recipients to receive booster shots after three and four weeks, respectively.

Biden, who will be inaugurated on January 20, plans to release every available dose of vaccine, rather than holding back half to make sure people receive their booster shots on time as is the current protocol.

US Vice President Mike Pence To Attend Biden Inauguration – Reports

File photo of US Vice President Mike Pence. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

Mike Pence will attend the upcoming inauguration of Joe Biden, multiple media reports said Saturday, the vice president becoming the latest longtime loyalist to abandon an increasingly isolated President Donald Trump.

Relations between Trump and Pence — previously one of the mercurial president’s staunchest defenders — have nosedived since Wednesday when the vice president formally announced Biden’s victory in November’s election.

A mob of far-right demonstrators stormed the US Capitol the same day in a failed bid to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s win, in a riot blamed on Trump that left five dead.

Multiple media reports on Saturday cited senior administration officials as saying that Pence — who was forced to take shelter from the intruders during the riot — had decided to attend Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

The president-elect earlier in the week said Pence would be welcome at his formal swearing-in, due to take place in a scaled-down format due to the coronavirus.

“I think it’s important that as much as we can stick to what have been the historical precedents of how an administration changes should be maintained,” Biden told reporters.

“We’d be honored to have him there, and to move forward in the transition.”

In his final tweet before being removed from Twitter on Friday, Trump said he would not attend the inauguration.

The outgoing president has been accused of provoking Wednesday’s violence, and now faces an unprecedented second impeachment, expected to begin on Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that Democrats would launch the process unless Trump resigned or Pence invoked the 25th Amendment, in which the cabinet removes the president from office.

While Pence has not spoken publicly on the subject, the New York Times reported Thursday he was against invoking the mechanism, never used before in US history.

15 Indicted By US Justice Department Over Capitol Violence

Police detain a person as supporters of US President Donald Trump’s protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification.
ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP

 

 

The US Justice Department announced Wednesday that it has indicted 15 people involved in the assault on Congress, including one man accused of possessing bombs made to act like “homemade napalm.”

The department said it had arrested several suspects, including Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump who invaded the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and another man found with 11 styrofoam-enhanced Molotov cocktails in his truck.

Others whose charges were unsealed include a man alleged to have entered the US Capitol with a loaded handgun, another who is accused of punching an officer, and a West Virginia state legislator who took part in storming the Congress, said Ken Cole, a federal prosecutor with the Washington US attorney’s office.

Cole said that not all the charges over Wednesday’s violence had been unsealed and that more were in the pipeline as the FBI investigates.

“This investigation has the highest priority,” he said, with “hundreds” of Justice Department investigators working the case.

More charges and arrests were expected.

Dozens of people were arrested and charged by local Washington police, but the charges announced by Cole Friday were on the federal level, and potentially carry heftier punishment.

But he said the FBI was not investigating anyone on possible “incitement” or “insurrection” charges.

Some people have called for Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and others to be charged with incitement for openly encouraging the president’s supporters to take action just hours before the mob stormed the Capitol.

“We don’t expect any charges of that nature,” Cole said.

Washington’s Capitol Building Fenced In After Riots

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. ALEX EDELMAN / AFP

 

Washington residents looked on in dismay Friday as crews finished erecting a metal fence around the Capitol building following deadly riots that saw President Donald Trump supporters raid the famous complex.

The approximately seven-foot-tall fence (about two meters) sealed off the entire Capitol grounds, the scene of Wednesday’s extraordinary events that saw hundreds of Trump loyalists ransack the American legislature.

“It’s just incredibly sad,” a local author who asked not to be named said as he snapped pictures of the black fence that had shuttered the area where he normally enjoys a morning walk.

“The fact that violent protesters decided to overthrow the democratic process. It’s a sad week for everyone here.”

Five people died as a result of Wednesday’s mayhem, including one woman who was shot dead and a Capitol Police officer who was pronounced dead from his injuries Thursday.

While the areas around the Capitol and the White House are typically closed off before an inauguration, two Capitol Police officers told AFP the tall metal fence had been erected in direct response to Wednesday’s chaos.

President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will take place on January 20.

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy has said the “nonscalable” fence would remain for at least 30 days.

Scores of National Guard troops and Capitol Police officers were milling around the Capitol complex, though the area was mostly deserted except for a handful of residents and news crews.

“Our hope is never gone,” one Trump supporter yelled at journalists.

The Capitol building is one of Washington’s most distinctive structures, known for its gleaming white dome that tops a grand, neoclassical rotunda.

‘Unhinged’ Trump Told To Step Down Or Be Impeached

US President Donald Trump speaks during election night in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, early on November 4, 2020. MANDEL NGAN / AFP
US President Donald Trump speaks during election night in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, early on November 4, 2020. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

President Donald Trump was told Friday to step down or face impeachment, as the top Democrat in Congress announced she had discussed with the military how to block the “unhinged” leader from the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

As his presidency imploded, Trump signalled a final, unrepentant display of division by announcing on Twitter that he will skip the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20.

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going,” he tweeted.

Biden responded this was “a good thing,” branding Trump an “embarrassment.”

However, Biden showed how wary he is of the growing rush to impeach Trump — and deepen the national political war — over his incitement of crowds who stormed Congress on Wednesday.

“That is a judgment for the Congress to make,” Biden said, adding that the “quickest” way to get Trump out was for him and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to take over in 12 days.

“I am focused now on us taking control as president and vice president on the 20th and to get our agenda moving as quickly as we can.”

Two days after Trump sent a mob of followers to march on Congress, his presidency is in freefall, with allies walking away and opponents sharpening their teeth.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that Democrats will launch impeachment proceedings unless Trump resigns or Vice President Mike Pence invokes the 25th Amendment, where the cabinet removes the president.

“If the President does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action,” Pelosi wrote.

In a jaw dropping moment, Pelosi revealed she had spoken Friday with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley about “preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”

“The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people,” Pelosi wrote.

Democrats in the House of Representatives, who already impeached Trump in a traumatic, partisan vote in 2019, said the unprecedented second impeachment of a president could be ready next week.

“We can act very quickly when we want to,” Representative Katherine Clark told CNN.

Whether Republican leaders of the Senate would then agree to hold a lightning fast impeachment trial before the transition is another matter.

In the House, the senior Republican representative Kevin McCarthy said “impeaching the president with just 12 days left in his term will only divide our country more.”

Too little, too late

Trump, whose actions on Wednesday capped his relentless efforts to overturn Biden’s November 3 election win, finally conceded defeat on Thursday and appealed for calm.

“A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” Trump said in a short video.

However, the evidently reluctant concession, in which Trump failed to congratulate Biden or directly admit defeat, was too little, too late to calm outrage over his role in the Capitol invasion.

Five people died in the mayhem, including one woman who was shot dead and a Capitol Police officer. Flags over the Capitol were lowered to half-mast on Friday.

Senator Ben Sasse, one Republican who says he will “definitely consider” impeachment, recommended that Trump at minimum step back and let his vice president run the show in the dying days.

“I think the less the president does over the next 12 days the better,” he told NPR radio.

Government exit

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos became the second cabinet member to quit, after Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, telling Trump in a letter that such “behavior was unconscionable for our country.”

A string of lower level officials have also left. According to reports, the only reason the trickle hasn’t turned into a flood is the decision by senior figures to try and maintain stability during the transition to Biden.

Trump, however, appears to have lost the grip he once exercised on both the Republican party and his own staff as he rampaged through four years of one of the most turbulent presidencies in US history.

Speaking to CNN, retired Marine Corps general John Kelly, who served as Trump’s chief of staff for 18 months, said the cabinet should consider the 25th Amendment but believed the president had already been put into a box.

“He can give all the orders he wants but no one is going to break the law,” Kelly said.

Biden faces grim inauguration

Biden, who won seven million votes more than Trump, as well as a decisive majority in the vital state-by-state Electoral College, will be sworn in on the Capitol Steps under huge security.

Between drastic Covid-19 crowd restrictions, the absence of Trump, and a new “unscalable” fence around the congressional complex, there will be little of the ordinary inauguration vibe.

And Biden will immediately face extraordinary challenges, starting with his core campaign promise that he can “heal” the nation.

But at the same time, the crisis has sparked such revulsion in Congress on both sides of the aisle that Biden may come into office with an unexpectedly bipartisan tailwind.

Biden said Friday that more Republicans now saw Trump for what he was after he “ripped the Band-Aid all the way off.”

“I think it makes my job easier, quite frankly.”

Top Senate Democrat Says Trump Must Be Removed From Office

 

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said Thursday that President Donald Trump should be removed immediately from office after inciting the “insurrection” at the US Capitol.

“What happened at the US Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer,” Schumer said, two weeks before Trump is scheduled to hand over power to President-elect Joe Biden.

Schumer called for intervention by Vice President Mike Pence, who angered Trump Wednesday by acknowledging he could not overturn their election defeat in a ceremonial congressional session raided by a pro-Trump mob.

READ ALSO: US Crisis: Better To Lose Power Than Disrupt Peace, Says Jonathan

The New York senator called on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, in which the cabinet by a majority vote can remove a president for incapacity to serve.

“The quickest and most effective way — it can be done today — to remove this president from office would be for the vice president to immediately invoke the 25th Amendment,” Schumer said.

“If the vice president and the cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had already told senators to go home until the eve of the inauguration.

But Schumer is in line to become majority leader after Democrats were projected to win two Senate runoffs Tuesday in Georgia.

If the threats are carried out, Trump would become the first president to be impeached twice.

The House of Representatives already voted in December 2019 to impeach him for holding up congressionally authorized aid to Ukraine as he pushed for a far-fetched investigation into Biden.

But Trump remained in office after a vote to remove him failed in the Republican-controlled Senate.

25th Amendment Provides For Transfer Of Power From US President

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
File photo of US President Donald Trump DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

President Donald Trump faced a growing chorus of calls Thursday to be removed from office under the 25th Amendment for inciting the mob violence that swept through the US Capitol one day earlier.

Adopted in 1967, the 25th Amendment lays out the provisions for a transfer of power from a US president who dies, resigns, is removed from office or for other reasons is unable to fulfill his or her duties.

So far it has only been invoked for presidents undergoing a surgical procedure so that power could be shifted temporarily to the vice president.

In October of last year, there was talk of Trump possibly invoking the amendment when he became ill with Covid-19, but in the end, he took no such action.

Now, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer is leading appeals for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the amendment in the waning days of Trump’s term, which ends January 20.

Schumer and others in and out of government are speaking out after Wednesday’s shocking scenes in which an angry and armed mob egged on by Trump overran security at the US Capitol, rampaging for hours and disrupting a proceeding in which Congress ultimately certified that Joe Biden beat Trump in the November 3 election and will be America’s next president.

“What happened at the US Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president,” Schumer said in a statement. “This president should not hold office one day longer.”

“If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president,” Schumer said.

US lawmakers had begun to address the question of power transfer from the chief executive in the late 1950s amid the ill health of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

It took on added urgency following the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the 25th Amendment was passed by Congress in 1965 and ratified by the required three-fourths of the 50 US states two years later.

Section 3 of the 25th Amendment addresses the transfer of presidential powers to the vice president when the chief executive declares that he or she is unable to fulfill the powers and duties of the office.

Section 4 addresses a situation in which the vice president and a majority of the cabinet determine that the president is no longer able to discharge their duties. This section has never been invoked.

Invoked on three occasions

Section 3 has been invoked three times.

The first was in July 1985 when President Ronald Reagan underwent surgery under general anesthesia for removal of a cancerous polyp from his large intestine.

Vice President George H.W. Bush was made acting president for about eight hours while Reagan was in surgery.

President George W. Bush temporarily transferred power to Vice President Dick Cheney in June 2002 and in July 2007 while he underwent routine colonoscopies under anesthesia.

Following Reagan’s serious wounding in a 1981 assassination attempt, a letter invoking Section 3 was drafted but it was never sent.

Under Section 3, the president informs the president pro tempore, or presiding officer, of the Senate — currently Republican Chuck Grassley — and the speaker of the House of Representatives, currently Democrat Nancy Pelosi — in writing that he is unable to discharge the duties of the office and is temporarily transferring power to the vice president.

Under Section 4, the vice president and a majority of the members of the cabinet inform the leaders of the Senate and House that the president is incapable of discharging his duties and the vice president becomes acting president.

“It’s time to evoke the 25th Amendment and end this nightmare,” Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said after Wednesday’s mayhem in Washington.

“The president is unfit. And the president is unwell,” he added.

If a president contests the determination that he or she is unable to fulfill their duties, it is up to Congress to make the decision.

A two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate would be needed to declare the president unfit to remain in office.

Former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe has claimed that former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein raised the possibility of invoking Section 4 against Trump after he abruptly fired FBI director James Comey in May 2017.

But Rosenstein has denied the allegation.