POSTSCRIPT / January 10, 2021 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Trump concedes, but will snub turnover

AS demands mounted for his quick removal from office after his followers — inflamed by his claims of poll fraud and his urgings to march on Congress — stormed the US Capitol, President Trump finally conceded Friday that he lost the Nov. 3 election.

Trump promised a “smooth, orderly and seamless” transfer of power, but tweeted later that he won’t attend the inauguration on Jan. 20 of his Democratic successor Joe Biden.

A draft impeachment complaint, meanwhile, is circulating in the House with a single article citing “incitement of insurrection” that Democrats said could be introduced on Monday and put to a full House vote in the middle of the week.

The article charges Trump with “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States” with his statements at the rally outside the White House that it says “encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—imminent lawless action at the Capitol.”

In a video posted on Twitter, Trump made his first direct denunciation of the attack – which Biden described as an “insurrection” — where five persons, including a police officer, were killed and the Congress premises left in shambles. Trump said in part:

“I would like to begin by addressing the heinous attack on the United States Capitol. Like all Americans I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem. America is and must always be a nation of law and order.

“The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy. To those who engage in the acts of violence and destruction: you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law: you will pay. We have just been through an intense election and emotions are high, but now tempers must be cooled.

“Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”

Trump called for “healing and reconciliation,” but took time to prime his supporters with: “I know you are disappointed, but I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning.”

Also on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer placed a call to Vice President Pence urging him to invoke the 25th Amendment, otherwise they would seek Trump’s ouster by impeachment.

They said the 25th Amendment would “allow the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to remove the President for his incitement of insurrection and the danger he still poses”. They added that Trump’s “dangerous and seditious acts necessitate his immediate (ouster).”

Impeachment, the other ouster option, requires the filing of a proper complaint in the House, which will look into it and decide by majority vote whether or not to forward the charge to the Senate for hearing and decision. A two-thirds vote is needed to convict and remove the President.

It may look awkward for Pence to lead a move in the Cabinet against Trump, not only because he has been beside the President these many years but also because he as Vice President would be the direct beneficiary of Trump’s removal.

Another elusive point is determining the majority in the Cabinet since the number has been changing with key officials resigning, and potentially being replaced. As of Friday, the officials who have resigned include:

*Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who told colleagues: “Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed. As I’m sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”

*Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sent her resignation letter Thursday, telling Trump, “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me… Impressionable children are watching all of this, and they are learning from us. I believe we each have a moral obligation to exercise good judgment and model the behavior we hope they would emulate.”

*Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former acting chief of staff, has resigned as special US envoy to Northern Ireland. He has informed State Secretary Mike Pompeo. “I can’t stay,” he said, adding that other officials were also thinking of quitting. “We didn’t sign up for what you saw. We signed up for making America great again; we signed up for lower taxes and less regulation. The president has a long list of successes that we can be proud of. But all of that went away yesterday.”

*Stephanie Grisham, a former White House press secretary, resigned from her current job as chief of staff to first lady Melania Trump. In a tweet, Grisham said: “It has been an honor to serve the country in the @WhiteHouse. I am very proud to have been a part of @FLOTUS @MELANIATRUMP mission to help children everywhere, & proud of the many accomplishments of this Administration.”

*Sarah Matthews, White House deputy press secretary, said she was “honored to serve in the administration and proud of the policies we enacted.” But as someone who had worked in Congress, she explained, “I was deeply disturbed by what I saw. Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.”

*Matthew Pottinger, deputy to national security adviser Robert O’Brien and who had served in the administration from its first days. He was a top China adviser and a leading figure in the development of Trump’s policy toward Beijing. O’Brien said Pottinger’s work led to an “awakening in our country to the danger posed by the Chinese Communist Party.”

*Tyler Goodspeed, chair of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, told a New York Times reporter on Thursday that “the events at the US Capitol led me to conclude my position was untenable.”

*Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general and head of the justice department’s Civil Rights Division, announced his resignation Thursday.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 10, 2021)

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