January 12, 2021 11:53:24 pm
Almost a week ago, the world watched in horror as US President Donald Trump’s relentless efforts to reverse the 2020 election results took a violent turn, with hundreds of his supporters storming the historic Capitol Building in Washington City.
Many of the supporters, carrying ‘Trump 2020’ flags and wearing T-shirts and hats with the president’s signature ‘Keep America Great’ tagline, broke into the House and Senate chambers, smashed windows and ransacked the place.
Armed with guns, explosives and cable ties, many marchers had come from a rally where Trump had given an incendiary speech in the afternoon, urging his supporters to reject what he called a stolen election.
Visuals showed protesters roaming through the halls freely, some even entering and looting the offices used by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers, who were forced to go into hiding.
According to the Associated Press, so far, at least 90 people have been arrested on charges ranging from misdemeanour, curfew violations to felonies related to assaults on police officers, possessing illegal weapons and making death threats against Pelosi.
The incident led to the death of five people. Here’s what has happened so far from the day the siege:
Call to remove to Trump from Office
Even as Joe Biden is scheduled to take over as the next president on January 20, US Democrats want Trump impeached.
On Monday, the Democrats began a push to force Trump out of office by introducing one article of impeachment, accusing him of inciting insurrection. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is expected to take up the matter as early as Wednesday. Passage would make Donald Trump the only president in US history to be impeached twice.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, many of her fellow Democrats and a handful of Republicans say the Republican president should not be trusted to serve out his term, which ends on January 20.
“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to her fellow House Democrats on Sunday.
She had also said that the House would first vote to push Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the powers of the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
The effort, however, was blocked by Republicans and the House is now expected Tuesday to vote on the resolution calling for use of the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and the Cabinet to remove a president who is incapable of fulfilling his duties. Pence and his fellow Republicans have so far shown little interest in invoking the amendment.
Meanwhile, amidst the impeachment row, Trump announced that he will not attend the inauguration of Joe Biden. “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” he wrote on Twitter.
Social media crackdown
Apart from Trump’s incendiary speech, fingers were also pointed at social media platforms and online forums — where it is alleged that right-wing extremists were openly planning the attack for weeks.
Twitter also permanently suspended President Trump’s account, citing “risk of further incitement of violence”, followed by Facebook Inc, which said it is suspending the president’s account until at least the end of his term.
It also suspended more than 70,000 accounts associated with the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory. The social media company said Tuesday that given the events last week in Washington, D.C., where a mob of pro-Trump loyalists tried to violently storm the Capitol building, it was taking action against online behaviour “that has the potential to lead to offline harm.”
Google too removed from PlayStore a social media platform called Parler, which is believed to be widely used by supporters of President Trump, for several posts that allegedly promoted violent acts. Plans for the Washington DC riot were widely shared on the platform.
Several of Trump’s videos were also taken down by YouTube, which further issued a warning saying that any channel found to be posting false claims three times within a period of 90 days will be removed.
Spree of resignations
Several of Donald Trump’s top aides, including his national security adviser, tendered their resignation following violence at the US Capitol by the pro-Trump mob.
Stephanie Grisham, first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff, and White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews were first to put in their papers. “It has been an honour to serve the country in the White House,” Grisham said in a statement posted on Twitter.
White House social secretary Rickie Niceta also submitted her resignation.
Others to follow suit included Matt Pottinger, Deputy National Security adviser; White House Social Secretary Rickie Niceta; Ryan Tully, National Security Council’s Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs; Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and John Costello, the Commerce Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for intelligence and security.
Officials seek security boost
As Washington braces for a nerve-wracking lead-up to Biden’s inauguration on January 20, authorities and security official have requested increased security and better coordination among the multiple law enforcement agencies involved.
Police have also announced that there will be no public access to the grounds of the US Capitol for the inauguration ceremony.
The FBI, too, has also issued a warning of armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington, DC, in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration, stoking fears of more bloodshed.
An internal FBI bulletin warned as of Sunday: “Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January”.
(Inputs from Agencies)
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.