Trump remains defiant amid calls for removal or resignation
President Trump enters the last days of his presidency isolated and shunned by former allies and members of his own party as he faces a possible second impeachment and calls for his resignation after his supporters’ shocking assault on the nation’s Capitol.
Cut off from the social media channels that have been the lifeblood of his presidency, Trump will nonetheless try to go on offense in his last 10 days, with no plans of resigning.
Instead, he is planning to lash out against the companies such as Twitter and Facebook that have now denied him his favored social-media bullhorns. And aides hope he will spend his last days trying to trumpet his policy accomplishments, beginning with a trip to Alamo, Texas, on Tuesday to highlight his administration’s efforts to curb illegal immigration and build a border wall.
Trump’s decision to travel to Alamo — named after the San Antonio mission where a small group of Texans fighting for independence against the Mexican government was defeated after a 13-day siege — served as a symbol of his defiance as he faces the most volatile end of any presidency in modern history.
Trump has not taken any responsibility for his role in inciting Wednesday’s violence despite a rebellion by some members of his own party and ongoing efforts to remove him from office. A second Republican senator, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, on Sunday called for Trump’s resignation after Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told the Anchorage Daily News: “I want him out.”
Three members of the House of Representatives introduced the article of impeachment, citing the president’s role in ‘incitement of insurrection.’
It was a stunning reversal for a man who had once been considered the leading contender for his party’s nomination in 2024, and could now be stripped of his ability to run for a second term.
A new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday found that more than half of Americans — 56% — believe that Trump should be removed from office before his term ends. Two-thirds of respondents said he deserves a “good amount” or a “great deal” of blame for the rioting last week, which left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer.
Rattled by the violent insurrection and images of Trump loyalists hunting for them in the Capitol’s hallways, House Democrats moved quickly toward a second impeachment this week, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said a trial in his chamber would not begin before President-elect Joe Biden takes office Jan. 20.
They came from across America, summoned by President Trump to march on Washington in support of his false claim that the November election was stolen and to stop the congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden as the victor
While people close to Trump said they would certainly prefer he not become the only president in the nation’s history to be impeached a second time, Jason Miller, a close advisor, noted that Trump’s popularity rose after his first impeachment trial. He argued that Democrats risked turning public sentiment against them and impeding Biden’s agenda by continuing to focus on Trump even after he leaves the White House.
“As I said to the president this morning, never discount national Democrats’ ability to galvanize the Republican base behind you,” Miller said, adding that, if “national Democrats were to go down that path, I think it would boomerang on them very severely.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger likened the U.S. Capitol siege to Nazi attacks in Europe in a video in which he called President Trump “the worst president ever.”
Concerns continued to bubble through the weekend about how Trump, who thrives on chaos and attention, might respond. Wednesday’s episode cut to the core of the nation’s self-identity — that of a functioning, stable republic — and sparked soul-searching in Washington and around the world.
But Trump, who once delighted in how quickly the statements he’d type on his smartphone would land as “breaking news” chyrons on the cable news networks, has not expressed contrition, and has instead been consumed by anger. Trump has been described as apoplectic over the loss of his Twitter platform and is now without an outlet for releasing that anger.
And he remains surrounded by an ever-shrinking coterie of aides as more mull early departures and he rages at others, including Vice President Mike Pence, who had spent the last four years as his most loyal soldier.
The two men have not spoken since Wednesday, when Pence informed Trump that he would not be going along with Trump’s unconstitutional scheme to throw out legal electoral votes to overturn the election. Pence never had that power in the first place, but that didn’t stop Trump from insisting that he did, both publicly and privately, turning Pence into a scapegoat who could be blamed for Trump’s defeat.
Despite ample warnings about pro-Trump demonstrations, U.S. Capitol Police did not bolster staffing Wednesday and made no preparations for the possibility of massive violent riots.
Pence’s allies are now livid about the president, who they believe not only set Pence up for failure but put his life — and the life of his wife, daughter and brother, who were with him at the Capitol — in danger. After repeatedly claiming at a rally Wednesday that Pence could unilaterally reverse the election’s outcome, Trump tweeted that Pence lacked the courage “to do what should have been done to protect our Country” as the siege was underway and never bothered to check in on Pence’s safety, according to a person close to Pence.
There is no indication that Pence is seriously considering invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power, despite continued calls for him to make that move. Aides have not ruled it out explicitly, however, keeping the option on the table in case Trump takes further action that might warrant such discussion, according to two people close to Pence. They, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal planning.
“What I’ve heard from fellow Republicans is that they’ve had enough,” said former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he considered Trump’s conduct grounds for impeachment, saying, “If inciting to insurrection isn’t, then I don’t really know what is.”
Christie also said it was a “national disgrace” that Trump had not ordered the White House flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Brian Sicknick, the Capitol police officer who died of injuries he suffered as he tried to ward off the riotous mob.
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Hours later, the White House quietly lowered the flags, although Trump has still offered no public comment on Sicknick’s death.
While his legacy will surely forever be stained by Wednesday’s violence, aides nonetheless are pushing Trump to spend his final days trumpeting his policy achievements. Events have been discussed to highlight his administration’s efforts to bolster Mideast peace, roll back regulations, support jobs and manufacturing and curb China’s power.
Trump is also mulling potential executive action against big tech after he was banned by Twitter and Facebook and as Amazon moves to shut down platforms such as the conservative favorite Parler amid concerns about violence ahead of Biden’s inauguration.
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