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Capitol riot: Trump commits to 'orderly' transition of power

By Vincent Ashitey
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US President Donald Trump has committed to an "orderly" transition of power a day after his supporters stormed Congress, provoking world condemnation.

Mr Trump's remarks, posted on Twitter following a suspension, were widely seen as his first public acknowledgement of electoral defeat.

He spoke as top Democrats called for him to be removed from office.

Hours later, Capitol Police said one officer had died from injuries sustained during the riots.

Four others also died during the unrest. Officials said one Trump supporter was shot by police, while three died as a result of "medical emergencies".

The breach of the seat of US government led to the evacuation of shocked lawmakers, postponing for several hours their certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory over Mr Trump.

What did Trump say?

Mr Trump returned to Twitter on Thursday evening, following a 12-hour freeze of his account after the social media company said his tweets could stoke violence. In the clip he barely touched on his baseless claims of voter fraud, which had riled diehard supporters on Wednesday outside the White House.

"Now Congress has certified the results a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th," he said.

"My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation."

Mr Trump said he had "immediately deployed" the National Guard to expel the intruders, though some US media reported he had hesitated to send in the troops, leaving his vice-president to give the order.

He also praised his "wonderful supporters" and promised "our incredible journey is only just beginning".

The video message was the closest he has come to a formal acceptance of his defeat after weeks of falsely insisting he actually won the election in a "landslide".

In November, he tweeted about Mr Biden: "He won because the Election was Rigged." But shortly afterwards Mr Trump denied that remark had amounted to a concession of victory to his rival.

READ ALSO: Four dead after Trump supporters ransack Congress

Who has resigned?

On Thursday evening, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos became the second cabinet member to quit following the Capitol riot.

In her resignation letter, Ms DeVos - one of the longest serving members of the president's administration - accused him of fomenting Wednesday's disorder.

"There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me," she wrote.

Earlier in the day, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao stepped down, saying she had been "deeply troubled" by the rampage.

Other aides to quit include special envoy Mick Mulvaney, a senior national security official, and the chief of staff to First Lady Melania Trump. A state department adviser was also sacked after calling Mr Trump "unfit for office" in a tweet.

Who's seeking to oust Trump?

The top congressional Democrats, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, are urging Vice-President Mike Pence and Mr Trump's cabinet to remove the president for "his incitement of insurrection".

"The President's dangerous and seditious acts necessitate his immediate removal from office," they said in a joint statement.

The duo called for Mr Trump to be ousted using the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, which allows the vice-president to step up if the president is unable to perform his duties owing to a mental or physical illness.

But it would require Mr Pence and at least eight cabinet members to break with Mr Trump and invoke the amendment - something they have so far seemed unlikely to do.

If the vice-president failed to act, Mrs Pelosi indicated she would convene the House to launch their second impeachment proceedings against Mr Trump.

However, to succeed in convicting and removing the president, Democrats would need a two-thirds majority in the Republican-controlled Senate, and there is no indication they would get those numbers.

The New York Times reported, quoting unnamed sources, that Mr Trump was considering granting a pardon to himself in the final days of his presidency. The legality of such a move is untested.

What was the role of the police?

Law enforcement have been heavily criticised after they were overrun by the protesters.

Mr Biden, a Democrat, said: "Nobody could tell me that if it was a group of Black Lives Matter protesters yesterday they wouldn't have been treated very differently than the thugs that stormed the Capitol."

Images captured inside the Capitol building showed protesters roaming through some of the corridors unimpeded.

However, one officer has been placed on leave after fatally shooting a female demonstrator in the House. Law enforcement told US media she was unarmed.

Washington police say 68 people have so far been arrested, only one of them from the DC area.

The FBI is seeking to identify those involved in the rampage. The Department of Justice says those arrested could face charges of seditious conspiracy, as well as rioting and insurrection.

One of those detained at the Capitol had a "military-style automatic weapon and 11 Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs)", according to the federal attorney for Washington DC.

On Thursday, crews began installing a non-scalable 7ft (2m) fence around the Capitol. It will remain in place for at least 30 days.

The official responsible for security in the House of Representatives, the sergeant at arms, has resigned. Mr Schumer has called for his counterpart in the Senate to be sacked.

Reports say US Capitol Police (USCP) chief Steven Sund is also resigning, effective 16 January, following calls from Mrs Pelosi.

Who died?

Five people have now been confirmed dead as a result of Wednesday's mayhem.

In a statement on Thursday night, US Capitol Police (USCP) announced the death of officer Brian Sicknick.

The officer was "injured while physically engaging with protesters" at the US Capitol and later collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

"The entire USCP Department expresses its deepest sympathies to Officer Sicknick's family and friends on their loss, and mourns the loss of a friend and colleague," the statement said.

It said his death would be investigated.

Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old US Air Force veteran from San Diego, California, was named as the woman fatally shot by a police officer.

Three others died after suffering unspecified medical emergencies on Capitol grounds, police said.

They were named as Benjamin Philips, 50, from Pennsylvania; Kevin Greeson, 55, from Alabama; and Rosanne Boyland, 34, from Georgia. Mr Greeson's family said he died of a heart attack.

Police said that 14 officers had been injured in the riot.

Source: BBC