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
57 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
1:26 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Trump pressured Pence to engineer a coup, then put the vice president in danger, source says

From CNN's Jim Acosta

President Donald Trump speaks at the "Stop The Steal" Rally on January 6 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump speaks at the "Stop The Steal" Rally on January 6 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump and top White House officials did little to check in on Vice President Mike Pence while he and members of his family were inside the US Capitol when Trump-backed rioters stormed the halls of Congress on Wednesday, a source close to the vice president tells CNN.

Pence was joined by his wife Karen Pence and his daughter Charlotte for the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes in Congress Wednesday. Several of the violent Trump supporters who were rampaging the US Capitol were heard screaming "where's Mike Pence," the source said, frightening the vice president and his family.

Yet, the President and his top aides barely lifted a finger to check in on Pence to make sure he and his family were unharmed, the source added.

"Was he concerned at all that an angry mob that he commanded to march on the Capitol might injure the vice president or his family?" the source asked.

The White House did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

People close to the vice president now believe he is being set up as a "scapegoat" to shoulder the blame inside Trump-world, after Pence refused to buckle to the President's demands to engineer a procedural coup that would keep Trump in power.

Some more context: On Tuesday, Pence came under intense pressure from Trump to toss out the election results, during a meeting that lasted hours in the Oval Office. The vice president's chief of staff, Marc Short, was banned by Trump from entering the West Wing, the source said, as the President repeatedly warned with "thinly veiled threats" to Pence that he would suffer major political consequences if he refused to cooperate.

"The message was pretty clear," the source said.

The events Wednesday have left some aides to the vice president feeling Pence was betrayed by Trump as well as White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and the President's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

"Rudy, Meadows and their teams have been trying to set up the vice president to take the fall as opposed to admitting they laid out false hope in all of this," the source said.

"Trump just can't admit defeat and wants a scapegoat," the source added.

On Thursday, Charlotte Pence Bond, who had been at the US Capitol with the vice president, tweeted her congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Jim Acosta reports:

1:17 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

House Representative calls for an investigation and criticizes police for "double standard" in response

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

With the U.S. Capitol in the background, lights from police vehicles illuminate Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, on January 6.
With the U.S. Capitol in the background, lights from police vehicles illuminate Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, on January 6. Carolyn Kaster/AP

House Representative Karen Bass called for a “thorough investigation” into the riots.

“You can't even come into the Capitol with a purse without it being screened. How can you break into the Capitol and walk around with flag poles? And you see the Capitol police right there. They were completely overwhelmed. Why did that happen? Why didn't they erect barriers around the Capitol that are present now, the fences? I think a lot of this needs to be investigated,” she said.

Bass also criticized the “double standard” in the police response to the rioters at the Capitol on Wednesday as compared to what happened during the Black Lives Matter riots in the summer.

“Obviously, Black Lives Matters protesters were perceived as very threatening. And for some reason these weren’t,” she said. “It is so demoralizing for people, in particular, African Americans and other people of color, who know … if tens of thousands of young, old African Americans attacked the Capitol like that, what would have happened.”

“We are sick and tired of seeing the same type of double standard,” she said.

1:05 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Pennsylvania State lawmakers – who rejected election results – denounce pro-Trump mob violence

From CNN's Kelly Mena

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier on January 6 at the Capitol in Washington, DC.
Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier on January 6 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. John Minchillo/AP

Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff – two Republicans who had rejected the results of the November election – denounced the violence by the Pro-Trump mob in Washington, DC.  

"Any act of violence or destruction is a crime and should be treated as such,' read the statement they released Wednesday. 'An objection to the electoral process is within the rights of members of Congress and has been exercised by members from both sides of the aisle at different times in our nation’s history. However, that process leads to debate and dialogue, not violence and mayhem."

The two lawmakers most recently signed onto a letter, along with 60 other state legislators, urging the Keystone state’s Congressional delegation to dispute electors. 

"We strongly condemn any act of violence and destruction and pray for all those impacted today' they added. 

2:46 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Biden has no immediate intention to weigh in on 25th Amendment talks

From CNN’s Jeff Zeleny

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has no immediate intention of weighing in on the rising calls for the 25th Amendment to be invoked, people familiar with the matter say. 

The Biden transition team has not commented on this, including today’s call from Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer.

Biden has expressed deep revulsion for what transpired at the Capitol, watching the events in disbelief and horror, as he said himself in his remarks on Wednesday. But he has expressed no appetite for adding his voice to the growing calls for Trump’s removal. 

There also are no conversations among the former presidents about weighing in, people familiar with the matter say, adding that they don’t believe it would be helpful.

"It’s not a question of whether President Trump is fit for office. That’s been long answered," a person close to Biden said. "It’s a question of how much more difficult that would make it to rebuild the country."

Jeff Zeleny reports:

1:00 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

DC police release photos of dozens of people wanted in US Capitol riots

Police in Washington, DC, released surveillance camera images of dozens of people they want to talk to as part the investigation into riots at the US Capitol on Wednesday.

The photos were published on the Metropolitan Police Department’s website on Thursday. Police identify those wanted as "persons of interest in unrest-related offense."

At least one person wanted by police was identified by CNN as part of investigation published Wednesday night. The man is Jake Angeli – a protestor known by followers as the QAnon Shaman. He can be seen in photos roaming the Capitol halls shirtless, holding an American flag affixed to a spear in one hand and a bullhorn in the other. 

You can review the photos released by MDP here.

12:50 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

UK prime minister: "I unreservedly condemn" Trump's incitement of protesters

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Tolga Akmen/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Tolga Akmen/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said President Trump was "completely wrong" to encourage a mob of protesters to storm the Capitol building in DC."

"In so far as he encouraged people to go to Congress, and in so far as the President has consistently cast doubt on the outcome of a free and fair election, I believe that to be completely wrong," Boris Johnson said in a press conference.

"I unreservedly condemn encouraging people to behave in the disgraceful way they did in the Capitol."

12:40 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Mike Pence's daughter tweets congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden

From CNN's Kate Bennett

Charlotte Pence Bond, one of the Vice President’s daughters, has tweeted her congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Charlotte Pence is very close with her parents and has been a frequent presence at the Vice Presidential mansion as well as on trips with the Second Lady and the Vice President. 

Her tweet comes a day after her father, Mike Pence, broke with President Trump in order to carry out his constitutional duty and certify the Electoral College vote. Trump had repeatedly – and falsely – claimed that Pence had the power to overturn the results of the election.

1:00 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Justice Department says charges will be filed today against "some participants" of riots

From CNN's Evan Perez

Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen on Thursday said the Department of Justice is committed to hold accountable those who were responsible for the “attack on our Government,” adding that some participants will face charges for the breach of the US Capitol. 

Rosen, in a statement released Thursday, said prosecutors are working across agencies to ensure they face the “full consequences of their actions under the law.”

Here's the full statement from Rosen:

“Yesterday, our Nation watched in disbelief as a mob breached the Capitol Building and required federal and local law enforcement to help restore order. 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 under the law. Our criminal prosecutors have been working throughout the evening with special agents and investigators from the U.S. Capitol Police, FBI, ATF, Metropolitan Police Department and the public to gather the evidence, identify perpetrators, and charge federal crimes where warranted. Some participants in yesterday’s violence will be charged today, and 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.”
12:26 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Trump's top national security officials urged not to resign

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

President Trump’s top national security officials have received calls within the last 24 hours urging them not to resign following his widely panned response to the mob attack by his supporters on the US Capitol.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien have all gotten multiple phone calls within the last 24 hours from concerned former senior national security officials and the leaders of major corporate national security firms asking if they plan to stay on, according to a person familiar with the conversations who had spoken with all three of them.

Pompeo, Ratcliffe and O’Brien all got a similar message: it was important they stay on for the continuity of government in the national security realm.

These former officials and corporate figures conveyed they did not want a political crisis turned into a national security one, the person told CNN, and were concerned foreign adversaries may try to capitalize on it.

The calls come as several other senior figures are weighing resignations or have already stepped down, including Trump’s deputy national security adviser, Matt Pottinger, who resigned Wednesday. As of now, it appears Pompeo, Ratcliffe and O’Brien will not leave their roles. CNN reported Wednesday that O'Brien was considering quitting. Like many others in the administration, they were dismayed by the scenes that unfolded on Capitol Hill, this person said.