Democrats plunged forward on Friday with plans to impeach President Trump over his role in inciting a violent mob attack on the Capitol, picking up some potential Republican support to move as early as next week to try to force Mr. Trump from office just as his term is drawing to a close.
Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, the No. 4 Democrat, said that if Vice President Mike Pence would not invoke the 25th Amendment to forcibly relieve Mr. Trump of his duties, Democrats were prepared to act by the middle of next week to impeach him for a second time. Speaker Nancy Pelosi planned to gather Democrats by telephone at noon to discuss the effort.
They were rushing to begin the expedited proceeding two days after the president rallied his supporters near the White House, urging them to go to the Capitol to protest his election defeat, then continuing to stoke their grievances as they stormed the edifice — with Mr. Pence and the entire Congress meeting inside to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory — in a rampage that left five dead.
“If the reports are correct and Mike Pence is not going to uphold his oath of office and remove the president and help protect our democracy, then we will move forward with impeachment to do just that,” Ms. Clark said in an interview on CNN.
She added that Democrats would use a fast-track process the could begin as early as “mid-next week.”
“We have a president who incited a seditious mob to storm the Capitol,” Ms. Clark said. “We now have five deaths from that and the harm to our democracy is really unfathomable.”
The prospect of forcing Mr. Trump from office in less than two weeks appeared remote given the logistical and political challenges involved, given that a two-thirds majority in the Senate would be required. But the push unfolded amid a sense of national crisis following the Capitol siege, as White House resignations piled up and some Republicans appeared newly open to the possibility, which could also disqualify Mr. Trump from holding political office in the future.
Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, said he would “definitely consider whatever articles they might move, because I believe the president has disregarded his oath of office.”
“He sworn an oath to the American people to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution — he acted against that,” Mr. Sasse said on CBS. “What he did was wicked.”
Ms. Clark’s comments came a day after Ms. Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, called on Mr. Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, but said they were prepared to move forward with impeachment if he refused.
The House is next scheduled to be in session on Monday, meaning that articles of impeachment could not be introduced until then. On Friday, Ms. Clark said on Twitter that Democrats were working to find “the quickest path to hold Trump accountable,” but added that they faced “obstruction and attempts to delay us by the G.O.P. defenders.”
President Trump, who begrudgingly recognized his defeat less than two weeks before he was due to leave office, announced on Twitter that he would not be attending President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2021
His statement, while a surprise to no one (and a relief to Mr. Biden’s team), nonetheless is another break with tradition that undermines the ceremonial demonstration of a core democratic value Mr. Trump has virulently disregarded since the election — the peaceful transfer of power between administrations.
It remains unclear if Vice President Mike Pence will attend the ceremony, which is expected to take place under heightened security after rioting supporters of Mr. Trump staged a deadly invasion of the Capitol earlier this week in an attempt to reverse his loss.
The announcement also raises the issue of departure from Washington. Before the Christmas break, rumors swirled that Mr. Trump would not return from his gilded golf compound at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, but he flew back in time to briefly disrupt passage of the coronavirus relief package and to whip up his supporters ahead of Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol.
Mr. Pence has signaled his willingness to attend, an administration source said, but has yet to receive a formal invitation.
President Obama, who acknowledged Mr. Trump’s victory immediately after his win and oversaw a detailed transition plan that was ignored by the incoming president, attended Mr. Trump’s inaugural. Michelle Obama described listening to his “American carnage” inauguration speech as one of the most excruciating experiences of her life.
Only three presidents have skipped their successor’s swearing-in: John Adams in 1801, his son John Quincy Adams in 1829 and Andrew Johnson, a Republican who sat out the 1869 inauguration after he was replaced in favor of fellow Republican Ulysses S. Grant.
What was already shaping up as a volatile final stretch to the Trump presidency took on an air of national emergency as the White House emptied out and some Republicans joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a cascade of Democrats calling for Mr. Trump to be removed from office without waiting the 13 days until the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The prospect of actually short-circuiting Mr. Trump’s tenure in its last days appeared remote. Vice President Mike Pence privately ruled out invoking the disability clause of the 25th Amendment to sideline the president, as many had urged that he and the cabinet do, according to officials.
Democrats suggested they could move quickly to impeachment, a step that would have its own logistical and political challenges. Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, the assistant speaker of the House, said Friday on CNN that the Democrats could get an impeachment vote to the House floor as early as the middle of next week.
(The Democrat-led House already impeached Mr. Trump once in December 2019, and he was acquitted in the Senate. The process took months.)
But the highly charged debate about Mr. Trump’s capacity to govern even for less than two weeks underscored the depth of anger and anxiety after the invasion of the Capitol that forced lawmakers to evacuate, halted the counting of the Electoral College votes for several hours and left people dead, including a Capitol Hill police officer who died Thursday night.
After Mr. Trump’s Twitter account was restored, he posted a 2½-minute video on Thursday evening denouncing the mob attack in a way that he had refused to do a day earlier. Reading dutifully from a script prepared by his staff, he declared himself “outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem” and told those who broke the law that “you will pay.”
While he did not give up his false claims of election fraud, he finally conceded defeat. “A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20,” Mr. Trump acknowledged. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
Michael R. Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, did not rule out investigating Mr. Trump himself when he pledged to investigate “all actors” in Wednesday’s siege. The president is said to have discussed pardoning himself.
Despite the talk of healing, however, Mr. Trump quietly made plans to take a trip next week to the southwestern border to highlight his hard-line immigration policies, which have inflamed Washington over the years, according to a person briefed on the planning. He also told advisers he wanted to give a media exit interview, which they presumed might undercut any conciliatory notes. But the first family has discussed leaving the White House for good on Jan. 19, the day before the inauguration.
A United States Capitol Police officer died Thursday night from injuries sustained when he engaged with a pro-Trump mob that descended on the U.S. Capitol the day before.
Officer Brian D. Sicknick died at about 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, the Capitol Police said in a statement. He had been with the agency since 2008.
Mr. Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday and “was injured while physically engaging with protesters,” the agency’s statement said, although officials didn’t immediately elaborate on the nature of his injuries or how he interacted with the crowd. After sustaining the injuries, Mr. Sicknick returned to his division office, collapsed, and was taken to the hospital.
“The entire U.S.C.P. department expresses its deepest sympathies to Officer Sicknick’s family and friends on their loss, and mourns the loss of a friend and colleague,” the statement said. News outlets had prematurely reported on his death earlier in the day while he was apparently still on life support.
Officer Sicknick’s death brings the death toll from Wednesday’s mayhem to five. One of the people participating in the pro-Trump rampage, Ashli Babbitt, was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer inside the building as she climbed through a broken window leading to the Speaker’s Lobby. Three other people died, the police said, after experiencing apparent medical emergencies in the area around the Capitol.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California ordered the flags at the Capitol complex ordered to half-mast in his honor, saying in a statement that “the sacrifice of Officer Sicknick reminds us of our obligation to those we serve: to protect our country from all threats foreign and domestic.”
In his own statement, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, said “Brian was valiantly protecting more than this building and the people inside — he was protecting every American’s way of life.”
“We are forever indebted to him for that,” Mr. McCarthy added.
President Trump did not mention Officer Sicknick in the morning message he posted on Twitter on Friday.
Homicide investigators from the Metropolitan Police Department are involved in the case.
Officials have said that some 50 police officers were injured as the mob swarmed barricades, threw objects, battered doors, smashed windows and overwhelmed some of the officers who tried to resist the advancing crowd.
Capitol Police reported 14 arrests during the incursion, including two people who were detained for assaulting a police officer. Local police arrested dozens of others, mostly for unlawful entry and violations of the city’s Wednesday night curfew.
Steven Sund, the Capitol Police chief, handed in his resignation on Thursday after facing pressure from congressional leaders. The sergeants-at-arms of the House and Senate also resigned.
Dominion Voting Systems filed a sprawling slander and libel lawsuit on Friday against the right-wing lawyer Sidney Powell, accusing her of overseeing “a viral disinformation campaign” that fed lies about the presidential election to millions of people and endangered the lives of the company’s employees and elected officials in states like Georgia.
The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Washington D.C., seeks damages from Ms. Powell of more than $1 billion and represents the most thorough debunking to date of the elaborate conspiracy theories that she and others, including President Trump, have been spreading since Election Day about Dominion’s voting machines.
At news conferences, political rallies and on conservative media outlets like Newsmax and Fox News, Ms. Powell has for months falsely accused Dominion of working with a bizarre cast of characters — from the financier George Soros to Venezuelan intelligence agents — in what she has baselessly described as a plot to flip votes from Mr. Trump to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The wild allegations have been contained in four federal lawsuits Ms. Powell filed across the country, all of which have been roundly dismissed by the judges that heard them.
In a cease-and-desist letter sent last month, Dominion put Ms. Powell on notice that a lawsuit might be coming and demanded that she publicly disavow her false claims that the company’s voting machines were created in Venezuela to help the country’s now-deceased former president, Hugo Chavez, win elections.
Dominion also demanded she retract her baseless statements that Dominion paid kickbacks to officials in Georgia for “no-bid contracts” and then manipulated votes in “an effort to rig the 2020 election.”
But after receiving the letter, Ms. Powell did not retract her claims. Instead, the lawsuit notes, she “doubled down” sending a tweet to her more than 1 million followers that she had “evidence” that fraud occurred in the election even after four judges and various states’ elections officials have repeatedly debunked it.
What she called evidence, the suit said, included “declarations from a motley crew of conspiracy theorists, con artists, armchair ‘experts,’ and anonymous sources who were judicially determined to be ‘wholly unreliable.’”
The suit noted, for example, that one of Ms. Powell’s so-called sources was a “military intelligence expert” who later admitted that he never in fact worked in military intelligence and acknowledged that Ms. Powell’s law clerks had written and convinced him to sign a “misleading” declaration.
“The recent attacks on the democratic process are not singular or isolated events,” John Poulus, Dominion’s chief executive, said in a statement after the suit was filed. “They are the result of a deliberate and malicious campaign of lies over many months. Sidney Powell and others created and disseminated these lies, assisted and amplified by a range of media platforms.”
Ms. Powell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Dominion has suggested that it may sue others as well. Last month, the company sent a series of letters to people including Rudolph W. Giuliani, who led Mr. Trump’s postelection legal campaign, and conservative media figures such as Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, demanding that they keep any evidence relevant to a suit. Company representatives have also said Dominion has not ruled out suing Mr. Trump as well.
Not long after the election, Mr. Trump embraced Ms. Powell, a former federal prosecutor who had represented his onetime national security adviser Michael T. Flynn in a criminal case stemming from the Russia investigation. However, after she appeared with Mr. Giuliani at a bizarre news conference in November where she spouted her conspiracies about Dominion, Mr. Trump distanced himself from her and she was left to file lawsuits on her own.
But after Mr. Trump and his allies lost dozens of their own lawsuits challenging the election, Mr. Trump changed course and brought Ms. Powell back into his inner circle — at one point, discussing the possibility of naming her as a special counsel to investigate voter fraud.
President Trump recorded a two-minute video on Thursday that was played at the Republican National Committee winter meeting that evening, in which he spoke only in upbeat terms about the 2020 election and thanked the committee members for their “loyalty.”
The video came at a time when several Republicans in the Senate and some in the House, as well as former administration officials, are seeking to distance themselves from Mr. Trump after a crowd of supporters quickly went from listening to an inflammatory speech he made on Wednesday to a deadly mob overtaking the Capitol.
Mr. Trump had been considering another campaign of his own in 2024, something many Republican officials now see as an impossibility after the violence on Wednesday.
The president never mentioned the violence during the video to the Republican committee, and he also stayed away from the conspiracy theories and false claims of widespread fraud about the election that he had been spreading for two months.
In the video, Mr. Trump thanks “all my incredible friends at the R.N.C.,” the committee where his loyalist, Ronna McDaniel, is expected to be re-elected for another two-year term. He talked about receiving millions more votes than he did in 2016, the number of Republican women who were elected to Congress as well as the coronavirus vaccine.
“I want to thank you for your friendship and your loyalty,” he said.
With less than two weeks before their tenure in the Trump administration comes to an end, several officials have announced that they are resigning early in protest after a mob of the president’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.
Here is a list of the administration officials who have resigned.
Betsy DeVos, education secretary
Ms. DeVos, the education secretary, submitted a letter of resignation to President Trump on Thursday, saying she would step down on Friday.
In the letter, Ms. DeVos called the mob that disrupted Congress as it was certifying the election results on Wednesday “unconscionable for our country.”
“There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me,” she wrote.
With her letter, Ms. DeVos became the second Cabinet member to announce plans to resign after violent protesters overwhelmed the police and stormed through the Capitol.
Elaine Chao, transportation secretary
Ms. Chao, the transportation secretary, announced her resignation on Twitter on Thursday, becoming the first cabinet member to do so. The unrest at the Capitol, she wrote, “deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.” Ms. Chao, whose resignation is effective on Monday, is married to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.
Mick Mulvaney, a former chief of staff and an envoy for Mr. Trump
Mr. Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s former acting chief of staff, resigned as special envoy to Northern Ireland on Wednesday night, saying he “can’t stay” after watching the president encourage the mob that overtook the Capitol complex.
Matthew Pottinger, deputy national security adviser
Mr. Pottinger has been Mr. Trump’s deputy national security adviser since 2019. He was formerly the administration’s Asia director on the National Security Council, and was known for his on-the-ground experience in China, where he advised Mr. Trump during his meeting with President Xi Jinping in 2017. Mr. Pottinger has resigned, a person familiar with the events said on Thursday.
John Costello, deputy assistant secretary at the Commerce Department
Mr. Costello, one of the country’s most senior cybersecurity officials, resigned Wednesday, telling associates that the violence on Capitol Hill was his “breaking point” and, he hoped, “a wake up call.”
Tyler Goodspeed, White House Council of Economic Advisers
Mr. Goodspeed, the acting chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, resigned on Thursday, citing Mr. Trump’s incitement of the mob that stormed the Capitol. “The events of yesterday made my position no longer tenable,” he said in an interview, after informing the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, of his decision.
Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s chief of staff
Ms. Grisham, the former White House press secretary who served as chief of staff to Melania Trump, the first lady, submitted her resignation on Wednesday after the violence at the Capitol. She had worked for the Trumps since the 2016 campaign and was one of their longest-serving aides.
Rickie Niceta, White House social secretary
Melania Trump chose Ms. Niceta, a former Washington event planner who helped coordinate Mr. Trump’s inaugural celebrations, as her social secretary in 2017. Ms. Niceta has said she was resigning, according to an administration official familiar with her plans who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Sarah Matthews, deputy press secretary
Ms. Matthews, a deputy White House press secretary, submitted her resignation on Wednesday, saying in a statement that she was “deeply disturbed by what I saw today.”
Reporting was contributed by Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni, Christine Hauser and Michael Levenson.
All but one of President Trump’s cabinet secretaries condemned the violent mob that stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday. Some pointed to the president for inciting the violence, and two cabinet members resigned. Here’s what they said:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a statement released hours after the melee, said, “The storming of the U.S. Capitol today is unacceptable. Lawlessness and rioting — here or around the world — is always unacceptable.”
Jeffrey A. Rosen, the acting attorney general, called the violence “an intolerable attack on a fundamental institution of our democracy” in a statement on Wednesday. On Thursday, Mr. Rosen added that law enforcement officials were working to find, arrest and charge those who breached the Capitol.
“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that those responsible for this attack on our government and the rule of law face the full consequences of their actions.
“We will continue to methodically assess evidence, charge crimes and make arrests in the coming days and weeks to ensure that those responsible are held accountable under the law.”
Christopher C. Miller, the acting defense secretary, wrote in a statement on Thursday that he supported a “peaceful transition of power to President-elect Biden on Jan. 20.”
“Yesterday’s violence at the Capitol was reprehensible and contrary to the tenets of the United States Constitution.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned on Thursday night. She condemned the violence in the immediate aftermath on Wednesday, writing that “an angry mob cannot be allowed to attack our Capitol.”
“The peaceful transfer of power is what separates American representative democracy from banana republics.
“The work of the people must go on.”
“Our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the president stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed,” Ms. Chao wrote in a letter posted on Twitter. “It has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”
Chad F. Wolf, the acting homeland security secretary, denounced the president’s supporters who participated in the riot and called on Mr. Trump to more forcefully condemn them.
“What transpired yesterday was tragic and sickening,” Mr. Wolf wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “We now see some supporters of the president using violence as a means to achieve political ends.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will remain in his post and carry out his responsibilities until the inauguration, according to a person familiar with his thinking. Mr. Mnuchin, who was traveling in Israel on Thursday, condemned the violence but made no mention of the president. “These actions are unacceptable and must stop,” he said.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross tweeted a six-word statement in the hours after the riot on Wednesday: “Violence is never the proper solution.”
Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette condemned what he called a “tragic event in our Nation’s Capitol.”
“Politically-motivated violence, regardless of ideology or cause, must always be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” he wrote on Twitter. “No American should excuse wanton disregard for one of our Nation’s most sacred institutions.”
“I am disgusted by the attack on the Capitol we witnessed today. Physical violence and the desecration of this hallowed symbol of our democracy must end.”
“Violence is never an appropriate response regardless of legitimate concerns. Please remember: if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt condemned the violence and praised the actions of the U.S. Park Police, an agency in his department, on Twitter on Wednesday.
“Today’s violence and lawlessness at the U.S. Capitol cannot and will not be tolerated.”
“Thank you U.S. Park Police for always fulfilling your selfless duties to safeguard lives and protect our symbols of democracy.”
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia on Wednesday called the attack “a low point in the history of our democracy. We must immediately rise above this.”
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said to reporters in Georgia that he was “disappointed” in the president for inciting the mob, adding it “was not the right thing to do.”
“I’m very discouraged by the people who were there that felt compelled to breach the Capitol and do the things they did.”
“We’re going to go forward as America. We have a new president.”
Robert L. Wilkie, the secretary of veterans affairs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to release nearly all available coronavirus vaccine doses to the states “to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible,” a sharp break from the Trump administration’s practice of holding back some of the vaccine, the Biden transition team said Friday.
“The president-elect believes we must accelerate distribution of the vaccine while continuing to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible,” T.J. Ducklo, a spokesman for the transition team, said.
“He supports releasing available doses immediately, and believes the government should stop holding back vaccine supply so we can get more shots in Americans’ arms now. He will share additional details next week on how his Administration will begin releasing available doses when he assumes office on January 20th.”
Because both of the vaccines that have emergency approval require two doses, the Trump administration has been holding back roughly half of its supply to ensure those already vaccinated receive the booster dose. But the vaccine rollout has been troubled from the start.
As of Thursday, the Trump administration had shipped more than 21 million vaccine doses, and millions more were already in the federal government’s hands. Yet only 5.9 million people had received them. State and local public health officials, already overwhelmed with rising infections, have been struggling to administer the vaccine to hospital workers and at-risk older Americans while most people remain in the dark about when they might be protected.
Releasing the vast majority of the vaccine doses goes against the recommendation of officials from the Food and Drug Administration — experts whose advice Mr. Biden has pledged to follow. But a transition official, speaking anonymously to provide insight into the president-elect’s thinking, said would use the Defense Production Act, if needed, to ensure that enough doses are available.