An act by the US Vice President has spelt trouble for Donald Trump as his staunchest defenders distance themselves from the leader.
And the President’s most significant allies rebuked the commander in chief as he failed to accept his election loss and defend the constitution.
Protesters stormed the meeting place of Congress on Wednesday (local time) as it met to certify the Electoral College votes that would see Biden become the next US president.
After continuing to make baseless claims of electoral fraud and that victory was “stolen” from him, Trump made one last desperate plea to his Vice President Mike Pence, who plays a largely ceremonial role in the certification process, to block certification of Biden's win.
Pence was set to preside over a joint session of Congress on Wednesday as it received the results of the state-by-state Electoral College votes that determined the winner of the presidential election.
And despite growing pressure from Trump to overturn the election result, Pence defied his boss with plans to not interfere with the election certification when presiding in Congress.
Trump’s subtle threat to Pence over election results
Trump had pressed Pence to throw out election results in states the president narrowly lost, although Pence has no authority to do so.
Trump claimed however Pence had the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors, but Pence was refusing to act.
"If he doesn't come through, I won't like him quite as much," Trump said ahead of the Congress meeting.
Protests erupted in Washington and disrupted the ritual that would officially announce Biden the winner, Pence subsequently condemned the violence and ordeal that saw one woman shot dead, and three others.
“Today was a dark day in the history of the US Capitol,” he said when Congress finally resumed on Wednesday night.
“We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms...Violence never wins, freedom wins... let’s get back to work.”
He also defended the constitution, an act President-Elect Joe Biden had pleaded with the president to do.
Trump posted a video calling the rioters “special people” and continued to claim the election had been stolen.
Another one of Trump’s staunch defenders, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, also said the constitution would be honoured.
“We'll complete the process, the right way, by the book, we'll follow our precedents and our laws, and our constitution, to the letter. And we will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election,” he said.
“Criminal behaviour will never dominate the United States Congress. This institution is resilient. Our democratic republic is strong. The American people deserve nothing less.”
Trump loyalty damaging for Republicans
Associate Professor in US politics at the University of Sydney US Studies Centre, Brendon O’Connor, told Yahoo News Australia the situation had become so extreme people were required to stand up for democracy and the truth.
“Putting loyalty to Trump ahead of all those things – he is really calling for far too much from Mike Pence,” he said.
“[Pence] wants to see himself as viable to be the president elected in 2024, and to continue to follow Trump down these ridiculous paths of lies and conspiracies and claims of fraud – at some point it is damaging to the Republican Party and future presidential candidates.”
Mr O’Connor said Pence had accepted the writing was on the wall for Trump and there was a limit to the “nonsense” that had occurred.
“The Vice President is moving in a different direction from Trump, and Mitch McConnell, who has hardly criticised Trump, has now given public rebukes,” he said.
“Trump is becoming more isolated which I think people long imagined might happen, but Trump maintained incredible loyalty.
“There was fear Trump could turn against republican candidates and lead them to not be viable candidates in future elections but this is a sign the tide is turning on Trump.”
Donald Trump must realise the ‘game is over’
Mr O’Connor said the moment had come for Trump to call for peace and the harmonious process of democracy, however it was unlikely.
“A game republicans played after the election was to not question Trump and be silent,” he said.
“Conceding isn’t an official thing, it’s a courtesy. The official thing is the certification of the results.
“It’s usually a ceremonial process and the loser is usually gracious. In this case, the opposite has occurred and this division is occurring at the moment of official reckoning of Trump’s loss.”
Mr O’Connor said while Trump appears to be refusing to concede, he hoped the President would have the decency to realise “the game is over”.
“His headquarters was invaded by his own supporters,” he said.
“Under normal circumstances, people would condemn this and call for peace and the harmonious process of democracy to take place. With Trump it will be unlikely.”
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