Trump acknowledges Biden victory amid calls for removal over ‘insurrection’

President Donald Trump has conceded for the first time that Joe Biden will be the next US president, amid calls for him to step down after a mob of his supporters – branded “domestic terrorists” – stormed the US Capitol as Congress was certifying Biden’s victory.

A Trump mob breaks into the US Capitol. Photo: Lev Radin/Sipa USA

A Trump mob breaks into the US Capitol. Photo: Lev Radin/Sipa USA

Trump, who as recently as Thursday morning had continued to claim falsely that the election had been stolen from him, said that “serving as your president has been the honour of my lifetime” in a video released on Thursday evening.

In a message to his “wonderful supporters, Trump said: “I know you are disappointed but I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning.”

Trump said he was turning his attention to a smooth transition after Congress certified the presidential election victory of Biden, following the storming of the US Capitol following the President’s incendiary speech.

The mob invaded the halls of power, forcing officers to evacuate lawmakers and hold rioters at bay at gunpoint. A woman protester was shot dead during the melee.

Trump didn’t acknowledge his role in inciting the crowd, but said he was “outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem”.

“Now, Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20,” Trump said in the video posted on Twister, which temporarily suspended his account in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol riot.

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

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer had earlier called for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the US Constitution to remove Trump from office before January 20.

If not, they said Congress should move quickly to expel him through the impeachment process.

“We are in a very difficult place in our country as long as Donald Trump sits in the White House,” Pelosi said on Thursday at a news conference.

Members of Trump’s Cabinet and allies of the Republican president have discussed invoking the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution which allows them to remove a president who is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, a source familiar with the situation said, though another source said that was unlikely.

Biden denounced the rioters who stormed the US Capitol, and was scathing of Trump for the violence that shook the nation’s capital and beyond.

He said the riot was “not dissent, was not disorder, was not protest. It was chaos”.

Those who massed on Capitol Hill “weren’t protesters”.

“Don’t dare call them protesters. They were a riotous mob – insurrectionists, domestic terrorists. It’s that basic,” he said.

Biden said the actions Trump has taken to subvert the nation’s democratic institutions throughout his presidency led directly to the mayhem in Washington.

“In the past four years, we’ve had a president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done,” he said.

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“He unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of our democracy from the outset. And yesterday was the culmination of that unrelenting attack.”

More than half of House Republicans and eight senators voted to challenge the election results.

During the proceedings, Pelosi pulled Pence off the House floor to talk.

Meanwhile, Trump faced a staff exodus. One Cabinet official, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, said she would resign, citing the violence.

Other Trump officials, including top Russia adviser Ryan Tully and envoy Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff, also quit. More departures were expected.

Both Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris spoke about the police treatment of the largely white protesters on Wednesday, compared with the heavy-handed way in which police have handled Black Lives Matter protests.

“We witnessed two systems of justice, when we saw one that let extremists storm the United States Capitol and another that released tear gas on peaceful protesters last summer,” Harris said.

Biden declared that “no one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol.”

He expressed hope that images comparing the police presence Wednesday to that marshalled to prepare for Black Lives Matters protests would open Americans’ eyes to the needs for reform.

Facebook, a key social media platform for Trump, said it would ban Trump posts until Biden’s January 20 inauguration. Online retailing platform Shopify said it would take down Trump stores.

The FBI asked the public for tips identifying people involved in the mayhem in which four people died.

On Capitol Hill, new fencing was being installed around the Capitol ahead of Biden’s inauguration.

-with AAP

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