The Latest: Education head DeVos quits, cites Trump rhetoric
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the fallout of the storming of the Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump loyalists (all times local):
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has become the second Cabinet secretary to resign a day after a pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
In a resignation letter Thursday, DeVos blamed President Donald Trump for inflaming tensions in the violent assault on the seat of the nation’s democracy. She says, “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao tendered her resignation earlier Thursday. News of DeVos' resignation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
In a farewell letter to Congress earlier this week, DeVos urged lawmakers to reject policies supported by President-elect Joe Biden, and to protect Trump administration policies that Biden has promised to eliminate.
HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW A DAY AFTER PRO-TRUMP FORCES BREACHED CAPITOL:
Congress confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the presidential election winner before dawn Thursday, hours after a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a stunning attempt to overturn the election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Trump in the White House. The top two Democrats in Congress are calling on the Cabinet to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, and if it doesn't, they are considering impeachment again.
— Biden win confirmed after pro-Trump mob storms US Capitol
— Capitol police chief defends response to ‘criminal’ rioters
— World watches US chaos with shock, dismay and some mockery
— After excusing violence, Trump acknowledges Biden transition
— Race double standard clear in rioters’ Capitol insurrection
HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has accepted the resignation of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger a day after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
The Kentucky Republican said Thursday in a statement that he had earlier requested the resignation and later received it. He says Stenger’s resignation is effective immediately.
McConnell says Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms Jennifer Hemingway will now be acting sergeant-at-arms.
He says, “I thank Jennifer in advance for her service as we begin to examine the serious failures that transpired yesterday and continue and strengthen our preparations for a safe and successful inauguration on January 20th.”
Democrat Chuck Schumer had earlier vowed to fire Stenger when Schumer becomes Senate majority leader later this month if Stenger was still in the position.
President Donald Trump is conceding to President-elect Joe Biden and condemning the violent supporters of his who stormed the nation’s Capitol.
In a new video message Thursday, Trump says that now that Congress has certified the results, the “new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20” and his “focus now turns to ensuring a smooth orderly and seamless transition of power.”
He also spoke out against the violence, calling it a “heinous attack” that left him “outraged by the violence lawlessness and mayhem.”
Trump did not address his role in inciting the violence. But in the video, he tells his supporters that, while he knows they are “disappointed,” he wants them to know “our incredible journey is only just beginning.”
Former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. is criticizing President Donald Trump for prioritizing his own interests over the nation’s following the deadly siege of the Capitol by the president’s supporters.
In a statement Thursday, the Trump-era ambassador called on Americans to join together and push through this “anguishing period of history.” His comments come a day after violent protesters broke into the U.S. Capitol, forcing Congress members to halt the ongoing vote to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election and then flee from the House and Senate chambers.
Huntsman says, “Our light has been dimmed by repeated reckless behavior encouraged by our President, who has shown time and again he cares more about his own ego and interests than in building trust in our ever-fragile institutions of democracy.”
Huntsman resigned from his role as ambassador to Russia in 2019 after two years. He joined other former Trump officials in condemning Wednesday’s attack, including former Attorney General William Barr and former White House chief of staff John Kelly.
The head of the U.S. Capitol Police will resign effective Jan. 16 following the breach of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
Chief Steven Sund said Thursday that police had planned for a free speech demonstration and did not expect the violent attack. He said it was unlike anything he’d experienced in his 30 years in law enforcement.
He resigned Thursday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on him to step down. His resignation was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The breach halted the effort by Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Protesters stormed the building and occupied for hours. The lawmakers eventually returned and finished their work.
— By AP writer Michael Balsamo
Democratic leaders of five House committees are seeking an immediate briefing from the FBI on its investigation of Wednesday’s violent breach of the Capitol, which left four people dead and disrupted a congressional proceeding to confirm the results of the presidential election.
In a letter Thursday to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the lawmakers called the riot “a deadly terrorist attack” incited by President Donald Trump and his supporters.
The lawmakers wrote, “Given the incendiary environment caused and exacerbated by President Trump’s rhetoric, along with the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, it is imperative that the FBI leverage all available assets and resources to ensure that the perpetrators of this domestic terrorist attack and those who incited and conspired with them are brought to justice, and that this domestic terrorist group is disrupted from further actions against our government.”
The letter was signed by Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler, Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson, Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff and Armed Services Chair Adam Smith.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says President Donald Trump’s administration found the siege of the U.S. Capitol to be “appalling, reprehensible and antithetical to the American way.”
But while McEnany’s statement to the press Thursday broke the White House’s silence a day after the violence, Trump himself remained quiet.
McEnany, for the first time, said that the White House was committed to the “orderly transition of power” to President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration. She also took pains to try to draw a distinction between the “violent rioters” and other Trump supporters who attended the president’s rally in Washington just before the siege of the Capitol.
But McEnany took no questions. And the impact of the statement would likely be muted, as Trump has long said that only he speaks for his White House.
The president has yet to condemn the violence that was meant to stop the congressional certification of Biden’s victory.
State lawmakers and police are taking extra precautions at state capitol buildings as legislatures in most states return to session.
Pro-Donald Trump demonstrators have rallied outside numerous capitols since the Nov. 3 election, and some groups have said they want a large presence when lawmakers return. Trump has falsely claimed that widespread voter fraud cost him the election and has convinced many of his supporters that President-elect Joe Biden will be illegitimate.
Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol has heightened concerns.
In Washington state, a pro-Trump group has said it will try to get inside the capitol building in Olympia when lawmakers return to work on Monday.
In Oregon, the state police said it is aware of rumors that armed groups are considering taking over the capitol and warned that anyone attempting that would be arrested.
In Michigan, where several men were charged last fall in separate plots to kidnap the governor and storm the statehouse in hopes of inciting a civil war, police briefly closed the capitol on Thursday after a man called to make a bomb threat.
The head of the union representing U.S. Capitol Police is calling on the department’s chief to resign, saying the Capitol riot “should never have happened.”
Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement Thursday that a lack of planning led to officers exposed to violent protesters storming the Capitol. He says officers lacked the backup and equipment needed to control rioters and argues that Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund must be replaced to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Police have been criticized for not immediately arresting many people who stormed the Capitol. Papathanasiou said, “Once the breach of the Capitol building was inevitable, we prioritized lives over property, leading people to safety.”
Papathanasiou is chair of the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee.
A longtime U.S. senator who has been a staunch supporter of Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri says he was “bamboozled” and no longer backs him.
Three-term Republican Sen. John Danforth of St. Louis told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that he first met Hawley when Hawley was a third-year student at Yale Law School and was immediately impressed by his intelligence. Now, he calls his support of Hawley “the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life.”
Danforth cited Hawley’s decision to challenge the legitimacy of Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory in November. Danforth says telling people the election was fraudulent “is very, very destructive to the country,” and the attack at the Capitol building on Wednesday “was the culmination of that whole approach to politics.”
Danforth says he would no longer support Hawley’s political future, whether it be for a reelection bid or a run for president in 2024.
Asked if he believes Hawley bears some responsibility for the attack on the Capitol, Danforth says simply, “Yes, I do.”
President-elect Joe Biden is leaving it up to the current Cabinet to decide whether to remove President Donald Trump from office using the 25th Amendment.
Transition aide Andrew Bates says in a statement Thursday that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are “focused on their duty” - the transition work in preparation for their inauguration on January 20 - “and will leave it to Vice President Pence, the Cabinet and the Congress to act as they see fit.”
The 25th Amendment allows for a majority of the Cabinet to vote to transfer the powers of the presidency to the vice president in cases where the president is unable to perform his duty. Trump officials are facing growing calls to consider the move after pro-Trump protesters, egged on by the president himself, broke into the Capitol on Wednesday in a violent melee that forced lawmakers to evacuate.
Biden avoided weighing in on whether Trump should be impeached again, a move already gaining traction among House Democrats in an attempt to remove the president from power before he leaves office later this month.
One of the people who died of a medical emergency during the storming of the Capitol was the founder of a pro-Trump social media site called Trumparoo and had coordinated transportation for several dozen people from Pennsylvania to Washington.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that 50-year-old Benjamin Philips drove there in a van along with Trump-related memorabilia he had produced. The Inquirer and the Bloomsburg Press Enterprise both spoke with Phillips before the rally.
He was a web developer and founder of Trumparoo, a social media site for supporters of President Donald Trump. His profile on the site said he was organizing a bus from the Bloomsburg area to go to the rally and expressed anger at Democratic officials and moderate Republicans.
The Inquirer reports that members of his group say they last saw Philips around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, and that he did not show up to meet them for a 6 p.m. departure. They learned from police that he had died and had a somber ride back to Pennsylvania.
Philips told the Bloomsburg Press Enterprise on Tuesday that people from other states were staying at his home. He said, “My ‘hostel’ is already full.”
This item has been corrected to show the victim's last name is spelled Philips, not Phillips, as police had initially said.
The top federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia says “all options are on the table” for charges against the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, including sedition.
Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for D.C., says prosecutors plan to file 15 federal cases on Thursday for crimes including unauthorized access and theft of property, and investigators are combing through scores of evidence to bring additional charges.
He says 40 other cases had already been charged in a District of Columbia superior court.
The announcement comes a day after angry and armed protesters broke into the U.S. Capitol, forcing Congress members to halt the ongoing vote to certify Joe Biden’s election and then flee from the House and Senate chambers.
Police say more than 90 people were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday morning.
Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration..
That’s according to two people — one close to Pence and one familiar with the inauguration planning. The people spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the plans had yet to be finalized.
The news comes a day after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop the congressional confirmation of Biden’s victory, with some angrily shouting that they were looking for Pence.
Trump had told his supporters that Pence had the power to reject electoral votes and make him the president instead of Biden, even though he didn’t have that authority. The pressure campaign created a rare public rift between the men after years of Pence’s uncheckered loyalty.
Pence’s press secretary Devin O’Malley tweeted Thursday: “You can’t attend something you haven’t received an invitation to....”
But it is customary for an outgoing vice president to attend the inauguration. Outgoing President Donald Trump has not said whether he plans to attend.
Biden will be inaugurated in Washington on Jan 20.
— AP writers Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller
A marketing firm based in Maryland has fired an employee who wore his company badge when he stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
Navistar Direct Marketing of Frederick said in a statement Thursday that it was made aware that a man wearing a Navistar badge was seen inside the Capitol during the security breach. The statement said that after the company reviewed the photos, the unidentified employee was fired for cause. No additional details were released.
The statement also said that any Navistar worker who demonstrates dangerous conduct that endangers the health and safety of others will lose their jobs, too.
A violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in an attempt to overturn the presidential election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep the president in the White House.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of President Donald Trump’s top congressional allies, says the president must accept his own role in the violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol.
The South Carolina senator said Thursday that Trump “needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution.”
Graham was a foe of Trump’s during the 2016 campaign and questioned his mental fitness for office. Once Trump was in office, however, Graham became one of his closest confidants and often played golf with him.
Graham added that he had no regrets of his support of Trump but that “it breaks my heart that my friend, a president of consequence, would allow yesterday to happen.”
Graham complimented Vice President Mike Pence’s decorum during the Electoral College vote certification process, saying that any expectation that Pence could have overturned the results was “over the top, unconstitutional, illegal and would have been wrong for the country.”
District of Columbia police have identified the three people who had medical emergencies and died during the storming of the Capitol.
They are 55-year-old Kevin Greeson, of Athens, Alabama; 34-year-old Rosanne Boyland, of Kennesaw, Georgia; and 50-year-old Benjamin Philips, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania.
Police Chief Robert Contee would not go into detail about the exact causes of their deaths and would not say if any of the three was actively involved in breaching the Capitol building on Wednesday.
Contee would only say that all three “were on the grounds of the Capitol when they experienced their medical emergencies.”
Greeson’s family says he had a heart attack. They described him as a supporter of President Donald Trump’s but denied that he condoned violence.
The Capitol Police say a fourth person, identified as Ashli Babbitt, was shot by an employee of Capitol Police while the rioters were moving toward the House chamber. She died at a hospital.
The siege at the Capitol by Trump loyalists came as Congress was certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
This item has been corrected to show that the victim's name is spelled Benjamin Philips, not Phillips, as police had initially said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’s seeking the resignation of Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund a day after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol.
The California Democrat also said Thursday that House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, another key security official, had already submitted his resignation. He reports directly to Pelosi, while Sund answers to both House and Senate.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he’ll fire the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger.
Lawmakers have mixed praise for the Capitol Police with harsh criticism for the outfit, which was overwhelmed by Wednesday’s mob and unprepared for it.
Canadian-based e-commerce company Shopify Inc. has removed online stores affiliated with U.S. President Donald Trump, saying his actions have violated the company’s policies.
The company said in a statement Thursday that it does not tolerate actions that incite violence. The president has been accused of inciting his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday after repeatedly and falsely telling them that Democrats had stolen the election from him.
The company says, “Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our acceptable use policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause.”
Sites for Trump hotels, trumpstore.com and campaign store shop.donaldjtrump.com generated messages saying, “Oops something went wrong″ and ”This store is unavailable.″
Trump’s social media channels showed the stores sold items including Christmas ornaments depicting his hotels, flip flops and T-shirts emblazoned with his logo and the American flag, scented candles, teddy bears, bath and beauty products, model airplanes and footballs.
The family of an Alabama man who died of a medical emergency during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol say he was a supporter of President Donald Trump's but deny that he condoned violence.
District of Columbia police said Kevin D. Greeson, of Athens, died of a medical emergency during the fracas on Wednesday at the Capitol.
Officials did not release additional details about the circumstances of Greeson’s death or where he collapsed, but family members said he had a history of high blood pressure and suffered a heart attack.
In a family statement emailed from his wife, Kristi, the family described Greeson as a Trump supporter but maintained he was not there to participate in the rioting inside the Capitol. The family said they are devastated by the loss.
They said, “Kevin was a wonderful father and husband who loved life. He loved to ride motorcycles, he loved his job and his coworkers, and he loved his dogs.”
The family added that Greeson attended the event to show his support for Trump. They say, “He was excited to be there to experience this event- he was not there to participate in violence or rioting, nor did he condone such actions.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump should immediately be removed from office or Congress may proceed to impeach him.
Pelosi on Thursday joined those calling on the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to force Trump from office. It came a day after a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, forcing the building into lockdown. Trump called them “very special” people and said he loved them.
She said at the Capitol: “The president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America.”
Pelosi says he could do further harm to the country: “Any day can be a horror show for America.”
Democrats and some Republicans want Trump removed before his term ends on Jan. 20 with Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The 25th Amendment allows for the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare the president unfit for office. The vice president then becomes acting president.
President-elect Joe Biden is calling the violent group that descended on the U.S. Capitol “domestic terrorists” and laying the blame for the violence squarely at President Donald Trump’s feet.
During remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday, Biden says people should not call the hundreds of Trump supporters who broke into the Capitol protesters. Rather, he says, they are “a riotous mob — insurrectionists, domestic terrorists.” Biden said Trump is guilty of “trying to use a mob to silence the voices of nearly 160 million Americans” who voted in November.
Biden says the president has “made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done” and unleashed an “all-out attack” on the country’s democratic institutions that ultimately led to the violence Wednesday.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is resigning effective Monday, becoming the highest ranking member of President Donald Trump’s administration to resign in protest after the pro-Trump insurrection at Capitol.
In a statement Thursday, Chao, who is married to Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, said the violent attack on the Capitol “has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”
She said her department will continue to cooperate with President-elect Joe Biden’s designated nominee to head the department, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is vowing to fire Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Stenger is in charge of the chamber’s security.
Schumer says, “I will fire him as soon as Democrats have a majority in the Senate.” The New York Democrat will become the majority leader after President-elect Joe Biden and Georgia Sens.-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are sworn in.
Top Republican and outgoing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees that there was a “massive failure’’ by police and other officials that allowed a violent breach at the Capitol Wednesday.
McConnell says a “painstaking investigation and thorough review must now take place and significant changes must follow.’’
He says the “ultimate blame” lies with the criminals who broke into the Capitol and the people who incited them. But he said that "does not and will not preclude our addressing the shocking failures in the Capitol’s security posture and protocols.”
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is calling on President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to remove him from office following Wednesday’s violent assault on the Capitol by the president’s supporters.
In a statement Thursday, Schumer said the attack on the Capitol “was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president.” He added, “This president should not hold office one day longer.”
Schumer said Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment and immediately remove Trump from office. He added, “If the vice president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”