With 13 days left in his term, President Donald Trump finally bent to reality on Thursday amid growing talk of trying to force him out early, acknowledging he’ll peacefully leave after Congress affirmed his defeat.
Trump led off a video from the White House by condemning the violence carried out in his name a day earlier at the Capitol. Then, for the first time, he admitted that his presidency would soon end — though he declined to mention President-elect Joe Biden by name or explicitly state that he had lost.
“A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20,” Trump said in the video. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
The address, which appeared designed to stave off talk of a forced early eviction, came at the end of a day when the cornered president stayed out of sight in the White House. Silenced on some of his favorite internet lines of communication, he watched the resignations of several top aides, including two Cabinet secretaries.
And as officials sifted through the aftermath of the pro-Trump mob’s siege of the U.S. Capitol, there was growing discussion of impeaching him a second time or invoking the 25th Amendment to oust him from the Oval Office.
The invasion of the Capitol building, a powerful symbol of the nation’s democracy, rattled Republicans and Democrats alike. They struggled with how best to contain the impulses of a president deemed too dangerous to control his own social media accounts but who remains commander in chief of the world’s greatest military.