President Donald Trump’s dark-of-night statement vowing an “orderly transition” was issued in part to stanch a wave of resignations from within the West Wing and the broader administration, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The resignations began Wednesday with the first lady’s chief of staff, the White House social secretary,
a deputy press secretary and Trump’s deputy national security adviser all exiting before the night’s end.
Other officials, sources told CNN, had been considering resigning. And a growing number of Republican
leaders and Cabinet members told CNN on Wednesday that they were considering having Trump
removed from office by impeachment or through the invocation of the 25th Amendment.
But at least one person who was believed Wednesday to be considering resigning 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 20” 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 invoking the 25th Amendment and restarting impeachment
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless
there will be an orderly transition on January 20,” Trump said in a statement after Congress certified his
loss. “I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted.
While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of
our fight to Make America Great Again.”
The overnight statement was issued without the knowledge of the White House press office, a White
House official said.
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.
Trump, who has repeatedly refused to concede the election, on Wednesday egged on his supporters
who would later breach the US Capitol in an attempt to stop lawmakers from counting the electoral votes
cast in the 2020 presidential election.
“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. And we’re gonna cheer on our brave senators and
congressmen and women. And we’re probably not going to be cheering, so much for some of them,
because you’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to
be strong,” Trump said, addressing his supporters who gathered maskless on the Ellipse near the White
House Wednesday morning.
After a speech filled with lies and misrepresentations that incensed the crowd, Trump returned to the
White House to watch a violent crescendo to his constant spreading of misinformation about the
electoral process. The mob broke into the Capitol, stormed both the House and Senate floors and
Trump supporters could be seen lounging in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.
A woman was shot and killed in the chaos. Police have yet to release more details about her death.
Three others had medical emergencies and died, according to police.
Republicans and Democrats alike condemned the rioters for entering the country’s legislative chambers
and destroying federal property, and several lawmakers blamed Trump for the violence that broke out.
In remarks Wednesday afternoon, Biden called on Trump to appear on national television “to fulfill his
oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.”
Trump, instead, released a taped video statement on social media, addressing the rioters and urging
them to “go home.” But Trump, who campaigned on a message of “law and order,” also appeared to
sympathize with them, saying, “We love you. You are very special.”
Trump’s video, in which he also repeated his unfounded claims about a stolen election, was removed by
Twitter and Facebook in what the companies claimed was an attempt to prevent further violence.
Multiple people told CNN that Trump was borderline enthusiastic over the protests and did not wish to
condemn them. He only agreed to record a short video after multiple staffers and Republican lawmakers
lobbied him to make a statement.
Trump has yet still to condemn the violence at the US Capitol on Wednesday.
On Wednesday night, once the Capitol was secured again, lawmakers returned from lockdown to the
House and Senate chambers, to continue counting the votes nearly six hours after the crowd wreaked
havoc on America’s symbol of democracy.
objections lodged against the votes sent by two states, Arizona and Pennsylvania. Before 4 a.m. ET, the
joint session of Congress had completed tallying up the electoral votes and Vice President Mike Pence,
who presided over the count, declared that Biden won the Electoral College by 306 votes to 232 for
Trump did not say in his statement whether he plans to attend the inauguration of Biden and Vice
President-elect Kamala Harris on January 20.( CNN / IM )