WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said there would be an “orderly transition” on Jan 20 after Congress concluded the electoral vote count early on Thursday (Jan 7), certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory hours after he appeared to excuse the violent occupation of the US Capitol by his supporters.
Trump, in a statement, said, “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.”
He added, “While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”
Trump has spent the last two months refusing to concede the election and making baseless allegations of mass voter fraud that have been rejected by dozens of courts and Republican officials, including his former attorney general.
Vice-President Mike Pence presided over the formal session that ended early Thursday morning tallying the electoral college vote.
Earlier, Trump appeared to excuse the violent occupation of the US Capitol by his supporters on Wednesday, hours after they stormed the symbol of American democracy in an effort to disrupt the formalisation of his electoral defeat.
Trump, who had encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol to protest lawmakers' actions, expressed empathy for the mob, which violently forced its way inside, clashed with police and forced lawmakers into hiding.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Trump wrote in a message that was later deleted by Twitter.
He added, “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
In an earlier video he had praised the protesters as “special” people and said he understood their pain.
Twitter later locked his account for the first time as it demanded he remove the tweets and threatened “permanent suspension."
Trump spent much of Wednesday afternoon watching the insurrection on television from his private dining room off the Oval Office.
But aside from sparing appeals for calm issued at the insistence of his staff, he was largely disengaged as the nation’s capital descended into unprecedented scenes of chaos as a mob of thousands tried to halt the peaceful transition of power.
Instead, a White House official said, most of Trump’s attention was consumed by his ire at Vice-President Mike Pence, who said he would not overturn the will of voters in the congressional electoral count.
The official was not authorised to discuss the matter and spoke only on the condition of anonymity.
The violence, coupled with the president’s tepid response, appeared to drive many Republicans to the breaking point after years of allegiance to Trump.
In a sign of growing frustration, a number of White House aides were discussing a potential mass resignation, according to people familiar with the conversation.
However, some harbored concerns about what Trump might do in his final two weeks in office if they were not there to serve as guardrails when so few remain.
Four people died on Wednesday, including a woman who was shot as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol.
Police also arrested 52 people, 47 of which were made in relation to violations of District of Columbia Maypr Muriel Bowser's 6pm curfew.
Several others were arrested on charges related to carrying unlicensed or prohibited firearms.