While the US is in the midst of recovering from the wake of the siege of the Capitol last week, here’s what’s been happening so far.
Trump to be forced out of office, either through the 25th Amendment, or by impeachment
Things aren’t looking too peachy for US President Donald Trump, who is facing the possibility of being impeached for the second time, following his supporters’ storming of the US Capitol building last week.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that the House will proceed with legislation to impeach the president, calling him a “threat to democracy” after he incited his followers to assault the Capitol. Over the weekend, she called for Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment against Trump, thereby declaring him “ incapable of executing the duties of his office”.
“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” she said. “The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”
The 25th Amendment was first enacted in 1967, and it allows the Vice President to take over in the event that the President is unable to fulfill his duties, owing to a mental or physical illness.
House Democrats are expected to introduce the articles of impeachment on today, and vote as soon as tomorrow. This would then condemn the President’s actions, but also delay an impeachment trial in the Senate for 100 days, in order to allow President-elect Joe Biden to focus on his agendas after his inauguration on 20 January.
Minnesota Congresswoman IIhan Omar has also declared that she will officially introduce two articles of impeachment against the President, charging him with two offences — inciting of violence at the US Capitol and abusing his power by pressuring Georgia election officials to overturn the election results.
Silencing of President Trump on social media
In a bid to control the aftermath of the violent situation, the President’s social media accounts have also been revoked on various platforms, after his posts had caused the violence that erupted at the Capitol.
Facebook and Instagram have temporarily banned him from posting for the next two weeks, until after President-elect Joe Biden has been inaugurated.
Twitter has also suspended the President’s account, @realDonaldTrump, after a review of his tweets, which run the risk of a “further incitement of violence”.
Streaming platform Twitch has disabled Trump’s channel, which he has used to stream his rallies. The platform has cited the move as a “necessary step to protect its community” and “prevent Twitch from being used to incite further violence”.
The full list of platforms that have taken steps to silence President Trump can be found here.
Perpetrators of violence at the Capitol to face prosecution
Army secretary Ryan McCarthy has announced that there are at least 25 domestic terrorism cases that have been opened. As investigations against perpetrators have begun, the authorities have recovered long guns, Molotov cocktails, explosive devices and zipties. One suspect was even found to have a military style semi-automatic rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails.
During the scuffle, there were also dozens who attacked police officers, stole computers, and smashed windows at the Capitol. These people have been arrested as well.
The FBI is also in the midst of investigating whether there were plans by rioters to kidnap members of Congress and hold them hostage, which could possibly explain why some rioters were seen with plastic ziptie handcuffs, and were accessing areas of the Capitol that are generally difficult for the public to locate.
Digital experts from the FBI have also looked into surveillance videos from the Capitol buildings and the area around the complex. Footage from these cameras are then matched with images and faces from social media to identify rioters. In some instances, agents have also found social media posts made by rioters before they stormed the Capitol, declaring their plans to incite violence. These posts will be used by federal prosecutors to bring charges.
For now, as the authorities are focused on those who were directly involved in the violence at the Capitol, it is unlikely that the President will face any charges of a similar nature. A spokesman from the US Justice Department has issued a statement, saying, “Our focus is on the events at the Capitol. As of now, we have not charged anyone with incitement or insurrection. This is an extremely complex and ongoing investigation and we will continue to follow the facts and the law.”
Criticism of authorities’ unequal treatment of rioters and BLM protesters
The police response towards Capitol rioters have sparked comparisons with police treatment of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters in Washington just a few months ago.
President-elect Joe Biden has come forward to point out the stark difference, saying that the restrained handling of violent Trump supporters at the Capitol are a reflection of “unequal justice”, as compared to the peaceful BLM demonstrators that were met with brutality from the police, who used chemical agents to disperse the crowd. The White House also went into lockdown, and the President was rushed to an underground bunker, despite the fact that there no one had breached the White House.
“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,” said Biden.
According to Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, head of the House committee that controls the Capitol Police budget, he said that Capitol Police had informed that everything was under control, and that they were not expecting a violent protest on 6 January.
“There wasn’t going to be any kind of violence anticipated,” Ryan said. “Maybe some dust-ups. Maybe issues around people trying to get guns into the District of Columbia, where they have very strict gun laws, but absolutely nothing like this.”
However, this statement seems to run contrary to what experts say.
Arizona State University criminologist Ed Maguire states, “All you had to do is go on Parler (the alt-right social media platform) for 10 minutes. I was on the night before. They were talking about violence. This is open source material, and the police would have had more.”
In comparing the BLM riots and the Capitol riots, Maguire said, “How the Trump administration handled the BLM protests was draconian and outrageous. Flexing military muscle and trampling peoples’ rights. We had a massive over-response. But the problem on Wednesday was a massive under-response, it’s fine to start with officers wearing a “soft” uniform, because that tends to de-escalate tensions. But out of sight, officers in hard riot gear should be nearby.”