Outgoing U.S President Donald Trump said he was “outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem” after a group of his supporters stormed the Capitol and forced a halt to a Congressional joint sitting.
Trump said demonstrators “defiled the seat of democracy” and added “to those who broke the law, you will pay,” in a video posted on Twitter.
Trump did not acknowledge his role in riling up his supporters with with baseless allegations of election fraud and encouraging them to march to the Capitol.
He promised a smooth transition to president-elect Joe Biden, who defeated him in November’s presidential election.
“Now Congress has certified the results, a new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.
“My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” he said.
However, in a message to his “wonderful supporters,” Trump added “I know you are disappointed but I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning.”
The Democratic leaders in Congress, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, demanded that Vice President Mike Pence remove Trump under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment.
The calls were echoed by a Republican governor, a Republican lawmaker and numerous House Democrats.
“If the vice president and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment,” Pelosi told a press conference.
Trump was impeached in 2019, but the Senate cleared him of charges last year.
U.S Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao became the first Cabinet official to announce their resignation following the attack on the U.S Capitol.
Chao, who is the wife of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, said the “traumatic and entirely avoidable event” had “deeply troubled” her.
Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger quit following the resignations of multiple administration officials.
Late on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany condemned the violence that took place on behalf of President Donald Trump and the entire White House.
Trump had earlier issued a statement via his social media director saying there would be an orderly transition, the first time he made such comments since the election.
Social media giant Facebook banned Trump from his accounts indefinitely, citing his intent to “undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power.”
Twitter had locked Trump’s account on Wednesday, though he was able to post from it nearly 24 hours later.
U.S. lawmakers finally certified Biden’s election win in the early hours of Thursday.
The joint session of Congress had been abruptly halted hours earlier after rioters breached both chambers of the Capitol building, forcing lawmakers to flee and hunker down until the siege ended.
One woman was shot and killed by Capitol police during the assault, the force said in a statement.
Authorities said three others died in separate medical emergencies.
Police say they arrested 68 people.
U.S. Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said some participants in the violence at the U.S. Capitol would charged on Thursday and authorities would make more arrests in the coming days.
The Justice Department would ensure that “those responsible for this attack on our government and the rule of law face the full consequences of their actions under the law,” he added.
The U.S. Attorney’s office, in conjunction with the Justice Department’s counter-terrorism division, had so far charged 40 cases, officials said.
The majority of those deal with unlawful entry on the Capitol grounds, while a small handful are assault cases. Eight of the cases were also firearm cases.
Fifteen federal cases will also be filed later in the day.
One man was arrested by federal agents with a military semi-automatic rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails, according to officials at the Department of Justice.
A 2-metre-tall fence was being erected around the U.S. Capitol as of Thursday and will stay in place for the next 30 days, including for Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
More National Guard troops from other states were being deployed to Washington.
The FBI was seeking tips on identifying rioters.
Amid criticism about how security failures allowed the mob to swarm the building, House Speaker Pelosi said she was seeking the resignation of Capitol police chief Steven Sund.
Sund defended his force, which is dedicated to protecting the Capitol grounds, saying officers’ response was “heroic” in the face of “criminal riotous behaviour.”
They were attacked by the rioters with metal pipes and chemical irritants, he said.
After the House and Senate reconvened, McConnell condemned the ransacking of the Capitol as a “failed insurrection.”
Although several Republican senators who had planned to raise objections to the counting of votes in states won by Biden changed course after the attack, two challenges were still put forward.
The moves caused lengthy delays to the certification process, but both challenges were ultimately rejected.
Longtime Trump loyalists including McConnell and Pence rebuffed the president’s demands to block the certification of the election.
The violence around Congress was criticized by leaders around the world. (dpa/NAN)