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All eyes on US Congress

What will happen next, after mob storms the bastion of democracy?

By Ricky Browne

The world is filled with news today about the pandemic and how it is hitting people and the economy. But today all eyes are really on only one story, and that is on how a crowd of thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in Washington DC, resulting in at least four people dying.

The world was aghast as US democracy seemed to be rocked to its very foundations.

WHAT HAPPENED

Ashley Babbit

Dead is Ashley Babbitt, a 35-year-old from California and a veteran of the US Air Force who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq. She is believed to have been shot by a policeman out of uniform.

At least three other people are also believed to have died due to ‘medical emergencies.’

Congressmen and Senators feared for their lives, as security was incapable of preventing protestors from entering the building, and then the inner-sanctum of democracy in the US, when they went into the Senate and House chambers.

The rioters were trying to stop congress from certifying that Joe Biden had won the November 3rd election and would be declared President on January 20.

WHAT TRUMP SAID

President Donald Trump was directly implicated in what happened.

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally protesting the electoral college certification of Joe Biden as President on January 6, 2021, in Washington DC. Photo: AP /Evan Vucci

Earlier in the day he held a rally in Washington and told his supporters that they should protest at the nearby Capitol building and let their feelings be known.

Trump supporters celebrate their storming of the Capitol building

After the protest started, President-elect Joe Biden came on TV to demand that President Trump tells the crowd to withdraw.

Trump did release a pre-recorded message shortly afterwards, saying that the election had been stolen, but that the supporters – who are very “special” people — should support the police and go home.

US President Donald Trump

“It was a stolen election and everyone knows it especially the other side. But you have to go home now,” Trump said.

Trump has now been banned from social media, including Twitter. But via a spokesman he did release a message and seemed to accept defeat saying that there will be an orderly transition on 20 January, after the US Congress had certified Biden’s victory.

The US Capitol building under seige

“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!” said Trump via the Twitter account of a spokesman.

WHAT CONGRESS MEMBERS SAID

 

Vice President Mike Pence

“Let’s get back to work” said Vice President Mike Pence, saying that the rioters had failed, and that it had been a “dark day in the history of the United States Capitol”. While he did not specifically condemn the President, he did not do the President’s bidding either, by trying to overturn the election result.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican who has been much-hated by Democrat supporters, also condemned the storming of the Capitol.

Mitch McConnell

 “I want to say to the American people: The United States Senate will not be intimidated,” he said to the Senate.

“We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation.”

He continued: “The United States and the United States Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today. We’ve never been deterred before, and we’ll be not deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy; they failed. They failed.

“Criminal behaviour will never dominate the United States Congress.

“This institution is resilient. Our democratic republic is strong. The American people deserve nothing less.”

But he did not directly condemn the President either.

That did come though from the Democratic side.

“The 45th President of the United States is undoubtedly our worst” said Charles Schumer, Senate minority leader — about to replace McConnell.

Charles Schumer

Schumer compared the day’s events to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 as a day that would live in infamy.

“The president, who promoted conspiracy theories and motivated these thugs, the president who exhorted them to come to our nation’s capital, egged them on – he hardly ever discourages violence and more often encourages it – this president bears a great deal of the blame,” Schumer said.

“This mob was in good part President Trump’s doing, incited by his words, his lies. This violence, in good part his responsibility, his ever-lasting shame. Today’s events certainly — certainly — would not have happened without him. Now, January 6 will go down as one of the darkest days in recent American history,” Schumer said.

Later, even Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who has previously supported the President, could do so no longer.

“All I can say is, count me out. Enough is enough…. It is over,” Graham said in his speech to the Senate.

“I prayed Joe Biden would lose. He won. He’s the legitimate president of the United States. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and vice president of the United States on January 20th.”

Lindsey Graham speaks as the Senate reconvenes to debate the objection to confirm the Electoral College Vote from Arizona, after protesters stormed into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. Photo: Senate Television via AP

For good measure he spoke directly to the President and said: “Trump we’ve had a hell of a journey. I hate it to end this way. Oh my God, I hate it. From my point of view, he’s been a consequential president. But today… all I can say is, count me out. Enough is enough. I’ve tried to be helpful.”

THE FUTURE

But with less than two weeks left to go before the next president is inaugurated, the question must be what else could President Trump do in office. Some are talking about trying to remove him from office with another impeachment. Others are talking about invoking the 25th amendment which could remove him from office and replace him with the Vice President.

Trump supporters in the Capitol building

It seems unlikely that a majority of congress and senate members wouldn’t take unified action to restrain and contain the President in some way – though there would still be some hard core Trump-supporting Republicans who would not.

Even though the President has appeared to accept that he will no longer be President as of January 20, what he may do before that date, and what Congress might do, remains to be seen.

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