Calls grow for Trump's removal after Capitol riot

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:01 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021
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10:16 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Trump's statement pledging an "orderly transition" was meant partly to prevent further resignations

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Donald Trump greets the crowd at a "Stop The Steal" rally in Washington, DC, on January 6.
President Donald Trump greets the crowd at a "Stop The Steal" rally in Washington, DC, on January 6. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump's dark-of-night statement vowing an "orderly transition" was designed in part to prevent a wave of resignations from the West Wing and broader administration, according to a person familiar with the matter.

At least one person, who was believed to be considering resigning on Wednesday, is now planning to remain in the administration. National security adviser Robert O'Brien has told aides he now intends to remain in his post until Trump leaves office, though his plans could still change depending on how Trump approaches the day. He made his decision before Trump released the statement.

O'Brien was persuaded to stay by other senior staffers who expressed concern about the national security implications of a vacant post in the final days of the administration.

The statement from the President, released through his deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino's twitter account at 3:50 a.m. ET, said "there will be an orderly transition on January 20th" even though he disagreed with the outcome of the election.

Trump agreed to the statement after being advised of the dismay and disgust among many of his aides, though the person familiar said it was not the sole reason for its release. It also came after reports that early discussions were underway about evoking the 25th Amendment and restarting impeachment proceedings.

It was meant as a signal from Trump that the next 13 days will proceed without incident. But it came months after Joe Biden won the election and hours after Trump urged his supporters to protest at the Capitol. Even among his team and close allies it is viewed as coming far too late and offering far too little condemnation for what happened at the Capitol building.

8:27 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Congress affirmed Biden's win overnight. Here's what you need to know this morning.

Just after Congress met yesterday for a joint session to certify Joe Biden's Electoral College win, pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol, prompting lawmakers to evacuate the building.

The Capitol was secured later that evening, and Congress returned to resume the certification process, with proceedings stretching into the early hours of this morning.

If you're just reading in now, here's what you need to know about what happened over night:

  • Biden's win certified: Congress formally affirmed Biden's 2020 victory just before 4 a.m. ET. The House and Senate easily defeated Republican objections against the votes sent by two states, Arizona and Pennsylvania.
  • Trump pledges an "orderly" transfer of power: President Trump posted a statement to his Facebook page following Congress’ certification saying, "Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition."
  • Some White House officials resign: Several White House staffers have resigned, including Trump's deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger and Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff to first lady Melania Trump, and more are reportedly considering resignation following the violent riots.
  • Some in the GOP begin considering removing Trump: In addition to expressing obvious horror and anger, a growing number of Republican leaders and Cabinet officials have told CNN they believe Trump should be removed from office before Biden's January 20 inauguration, even if it means invoking the 25th Amendment or disqualifying him from ever holding office again.
7:12 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Russian Foreign Ministry reacts to "dramatic moment" of violence in Washington

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina

In its first comments on the chaotic events at the US Capitol on Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it wishes "the friendly people of America" to go through this "dramatic moment in their own history with dignity."

A spokesperson for the ministry criticized the US election system, calling it "archaic," and claimed it created "opportunities" for violations:

"At the same time, we once again point to the fact that the electoral system in the United States is archaic, it does not meet modern democratic standards, creating opportunities for numerous violations, and the American media have become an instrument of political struggle," spokesperson for the ministry, Maria Zakharova, said as quoted by RIA Novosti. 

"This largely caused the split in society that can be now observed in the United States," she added.

Reminder: Elections in Russia have been long criticized for multiple violations, from ballot stuffing to lack of real competition, according to both foreign and domestic observing organizations. 

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said that 2018 Russian presidential elections have been characterized by "restrictions on fundamental freedoms and lack of genuine competition."

7:20 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Trump's "entire legacy was wiped out yesterday," GOP representative says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Republican Rep. Nancy Mace on January 7.
Republican Rep. Nancy Mace on January 7. CNN

Republican Rep. Nancy Mace, who was just sworn in on Sunday, condemned “anarchy” after pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol yesterday.

“It was a sad day for our nation. I was shocked. I was heartbroken. And I was pissed off and angry by seeing this violent mob. This wasn't protests — this was anarchy last night,” Mace told CNN’s John Berman.

Mace, a single mom, said that she was so concerned by rhetoric “from the President on down” before the rally on Wednesday that she sent her two kids back home after she was sworn in.

“I thought, ‘how neat would that be to roam the halls of Congress, do your virtual classes,’ and instead, I put them on the first flight home Monday morning, because I was worried. And my fears came true yesterday,” she said.  

Mace said the Republican Party needs to “start over,” and some GOP lawmakers should take responsibility for the deadly insurrection. 

Trump’s “entire legacy was wiped out yesterday,” she said. “… We cannot condone the violence. … We need to have leadership more than ever right now in our country. We've got to rebuild our nation and rebuild our party.”

“What happened yesterday is because millions of people across the country were misled by Republicans and by the administration that members of Congress could overturn and usurp the Electoral College in a single vote to object yesterday. And that's simply not true,” she added. 

6:59 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

How Germany's Angela Merkel is reacting to the violence in Washington

German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a statement in Berlin on January 7 — about the previous day's riots in Washington, DC — during a Christian Social Union parliamentary group digital press conference.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a statement in Berlin on January 7 — about the previous day's riots in Washington, DC — during a Christian Social Union parliamentary group digital press conference. Kay Nietfeld/Pool/AP

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed sadness and anger at the scenes of pro-Trump rioters storming the US Capitol on Wednesday.

"A basic rule of democracy is after the election there are winners and losers," Merkel said, adding,

"I regret very much that President Trump did not admit defeat in November and again yesterday."

Merkel is one of many world leaders who condemned Wednesday's violence around the US Capitol.

She made her comments during a virtual meeting with German conservative parties this morning, saying:

"We have all seen the disturbing images of the storming of Congress. I was made angry and also sad by these images. And I'm pretty sure I feel like the vast majority of friends of the United States of America, like millions of people who admire American democratic tradition. A basic rule of democracy is after the election there are winners and losers, both have to play their role with decency and responsibility so that democracy itself remains the winner. I regret very much that President Trump did not admit defeat in November and again yesterday."

However, Merkel expressed optimism that US lawmakers went back to work and certified Joe Biden's Electoral College win, calling it "a sign of hope."

"It is also certain with the confirmation of the election victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that the United States of America will open a new chapter of the democracy in less than two weeks, as it is supposed to happen," she added.

7:02 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Biden formally announces Merrick Garland as attorney general pick

From CNN’s Jessica Dean

Judge Merrick Garland is pictured during a meeting in Washington, DC, on April 28, 2016.
Judge Merrick Garland is pictured during a meeting in Washington, DC, on April 28, 2016. Evan Vucci/AP

President-elect Joe Biden formally announced Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee for attorney general, along with additional members of his justice team, which CNN reported yesterday. 

"Judge Garland’s nomination underscores the President-elect’s commitment to restore integrity and the rule of law, boost morale of the dedicated career professionals at DOJ, and build a more equitable justice system that serves all Americans," Biden's team said in a statement announcing Garland's nomination.

6:31 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

"I was fearful for my life" when protesters stormed the US Capitol, a House representative says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster, pictured at front in blue, shelters in the House gallery as pro-Trump rioters try to break into the Chamber at the Capitol on January 6.
New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster, pictured at front in blue, shelters in the House gallery as pro-Trump rioters try to break into the Chamber at the Capitol on January 6. Andrew HarnikAP

As lawmakers sheltered in place when pro-Trump protesters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday, New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster said she was "fearful for her life."

"We were scrambling to hide behind the wall of the balcony," she said as she described the moment. "I was trying to get my colleagues to safety, getting them behind the railing."

Eventually, the lawmakers were told to evacuate. 

"They told us to use the gas masks that are under the seats, and we had to scramble across the entire length of the balcony," she said. "It was shortly after I left that the shot rang out that broke the window and within minutes, they had breached the door and they were in the chamber."

She added:

"I was frightened that it would be a mass casualty incident, that if they had automatic weapons they could have killed hundreds of members of Congress."

Kuster called the incident "domestic terrorism."

"This was literally the threat from within. And you know, we protect our first amendment and the right to gather," she told CNN. "It wouldn't be unusual to come and present your opinion, but these were terrorists. These were thugs. These were dangerous people."

Watch more:

6:37 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Trump's Treasury secretary calls Capitol violence "completely unacceptable"

From CNN's Andrew Carey

Steve Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, arrives for a meeting at the Capitol on July 28, 2020.
Steve Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, arrives for a meeting at the Capitol on July 28, 2020. Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images

One of President Trump’s most loyal Cabinet members, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, described the violence at the US Capitol Wednesday as "completely unacceptable."  

Standing alongside Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Mnuchin said:

"The violence that occurred last night was completely unacceptable. These actions must stop. Our democratic institutions have been strong for a very long period of time. Our democracy will prevail, and our institutions will remain strong. Now is the time for our nation to come together as one and respect the democratic process in the United States." 
6:04 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Trump's comments "directly led" to violent protests at the US Capitol, UK official says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

Priti Patel, British home secretary, speaks on November 3.
Priti Patel, British home secretary, speaks on November 3. PA/Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s comments "directly led" to the violent protests at the US Capitol, British Home Secretary Priti Patel told British media early on Thursday.

"His comments directly led to the violence," Patel said on BBC Breakfast.

"He basically has made a number of comments yesterday that helped to fuel that violence and, you know, he didn't do anything to de-escalate that," she said.

"Quite frankly the violence that we've seen has just been so appalling and there is no justification for it," she added.

Patel referred to the US as "a beacon of democracy and freedom," adding that the country should now move on and get on with an orderly transition.

Since Patel’s interview, President Trump has said in a statement "there will be an orderly transition on January 20th." This came after a formal affirmation of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.