Pence going to inauguration, Trump shunned

Richard Cowan and Joseph Ax
·3-min read

With only days left in his presidency, Donald Trump has been silenced by Twitter, shunned by a growing number of Republican officials and faces a renewed drive to remove him from office after he incited his supporters to storm the US Capitol.

Now in another blow to his demand for blind loyalty, Vice President Mike Pence says he will attend President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, a senior administration official said on Saturday.

Donald Trump said on Friday he would not attend the inauguration of his successor on January 20.

Democrat Senator Ted Lieu has tweeted that there are plans to bring forward articles of impeachment on Monday. The California Democrat, who helped draft the charges, said the articles had drawn 180 co-sponsors as of Saturday afternoon.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top congressional Democrat, has threatened to impeach Trump for a historic second time unless he resigned "immediately," a move the pugnacious president is unlikely to consider.

Pelosi has also asked members to draft legislation aimed at invoking the US Constitution's 25th Amendment, which allows the removal of a president unable to fulfil the duties of the office.

The intensifying effort to oust Trump from the White House has drawn scattered support from Republicans, whose party has been splintered by the president's actions. Democrats have pressed Vice President Mike Pence to consider the 25th Amendment, but a Pence adviser has said he opposes the idea.

The odds that Trump will actually be removed before January 20, when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in, remain long. Any impeachment in the House would trigger a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, which is scheduled to be in recess until January 19 and has already acquitted Trump once before.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a memo to his fellow Republican senators suggesting a trial would not begin until Trump was out of office, a source familiar with the document said. A conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds vote.

Democrats will take control of the Senate later this month, after Georgia certifies two runoff elections won by Democratic challengers.

Twitter permanently cut off Trump's personal account and access to his nearly 90 million followers late on Friday, citing the risk of further incitement of violence, three days after Trump exhorted thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol as Congress met to certify Biden's November 3 election victory.

The resulting assault, viewed with shock around the world, left a police officer and four others dead in its wake, as rioters breached the Capitol and forced lawmakers into hiding for their own safety.

Trump later used the official @POTUS government account to lash out at Twitter, vowing that the 75 million "great patriots" who voted for him "will not be SILENCED!" He said he was considering building his own social media platform.

Twitter quickly deleted those posts and soon after suspended the Trump campaign account as well.

The suspension came a day after a subdued Trump denounced Wednesday's violence in a video in which he also vowed to ensure a smooth transition of power.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on Thursday and Friday found 57 per cent of Americans want Trump to be removed immediately from office following the violence.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said on Friday that Trump should resign immediately and suggested she would consider leaving the party altogether if it could not seperate itself from him.

Trump allies, including Senator Lindsey Graham and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, however, urged Democrats to shelve any impeachment effort in the name of unity.

"Impeaching President Donald Trump with 12 days remaining in his presidency would only serve to further divide the country," said White House spokesman Judd Deere.