After pro-Trump rioters attacked the Capitol and attempted to prevent Congress from certifying his electoral defeat, President Donald Trump has insulated himself inside the White House, surrounded only by his closest aides.
The president’s publicly available schedule was empty yet again on Thursday as a statement released to the press read: “President Trump will work from early in the morning until late in the evening. He will make many calls and have many meetings.”
The White House later confirmed that Mr Trump had presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom awards to golfers, with a White House press release stating: "Today, President Donald J. Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to Babe Zaharias.
“The President also presented the award to previously announced recipients Annika Sorenstam and Gary J. Player. This prestigious award is the Nation’s highest civilian honour, which is awarded by the President to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavours.”
Going into the weekend, Business Insider reported that the president would be making a last visit to Camp David, which he is expected to depart to on Friday afternoon.
His weekend getaway comes following a tense week in Washington. Having been locked out of his social media accounts on Wednesday evening, Mr Trump could not fire off his typical false claims of voter fraud and election rigging, which led in part to the demonstrations seen on Wednesday in Washington and at statehouses across the country.
In the early hours of Thursday, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino released a statement from the president effectively committing to a peaceful transfer of power after the pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol and clashed with police and security officials.
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“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,” the statement read. “I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. 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!”
Of course, the facts were not on Mr Trump’s side. His own Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security have both released statements saying the national vote was conducted free of fraud, with Homeland Security describing the 2020 election as the “most secure” in American history.
On Wednesday, Mr Trump’s aides reportedly urged him to release a video during the violent riot in the Capitol calling for calm, encouraging the president not to include false claims of rampant voter fraud in his message to supporters. But Mr Trump went on to post a video to Facebook and Twitter that decried the election as having been “stolen” before eventually telling the mob to “go home”.
That video was eventually removed by both platforms as the president’s accounts were suspended.
The city of Washington declared a 6:00 p.m. curfew on Wednesday, and after some delay, the National Guard was eventually called in to help disburse the riots.
Watch: Schumer calls on Pence to invoke 25th Amendment
Read more: Timeline of events in Washington DC
At the White House during the riots, Mr Trump was behaving like a “total monster” according to The Washington Post, citing anonymous sources that said the president developed a “bunker mentality” in response to the controversy.
The president surrounded himself with Stephen Miller, one of his closest advisers in the West Wing, as well as his most loyal aides, like Mr Scavino and personnel director Johnny McEntee, the newspaper reported, while many others in the White House contemplated resignations in the wake of the mob.
States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
First Lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff abruptly resigned on Wednesday, along with an additional staffer who said they were disturbed by the riots targeting the Capitol.
Mr Trump wanted Mr Pence to step in during the election certification, and after learning the vice president would not intervene in the procedure, he was furious beyond the point of return, reports said.
“The thing he was most upset about and couldn’t get over all day was the Pence betrayal,” one former senior administration official briefed on the matter told the Post. “All day, it was a theme of, ‘I made this guy, I saved him from a political death, and here he stabbed me in the back.’”
“All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN,” Mr Trump tweeted before his account was suspenced. “Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”
Washington police said at least four people died during the riots at the Capitol on Wednesday, while at least 14 officers were injured. Some officials have warned demonstrations could continue leading up to Mr Biden’s inauguration later this month.
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