Trump Promises “Orderly” Transition

Without mentioning Biden by name, Trump acknowledged a “new administration” will take power on Jan. 20.

A cleaning crew vacuums the floor of a hallway at the U.S. Capitol January 7, 2021 in Washington, DC.
A cleaning crew vacuums the floor of a hallway at the U.S. Capitol January 7, 2021 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

In a video posted on Thursday evening, U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to publicly concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden for the first time.

Without mentioning Biden by name, Trump acknowledged the vote certification had been finalized by Congress, and said his focus was now on “ensuring a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power.”

“This moment calls for healing and reconciliation,” he added before telling his supporters that “our incredible journey is only just beginning.”

The move comes as Trump faced backlash from some in his own Republican Party for inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday. The Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for Trump to be impeached for a second time, but only if his cabinet is not up to the task of removing him via the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Trump’s speech can be seen as an attempt to recast himself as a sober defender of U.S. institutions in order to escape prosecution under an incoming Biden administration. Or it simply could have been because the president was seeking to have bans on his Twitter and Facebook accounts lifted so that he can maintain his media influence upon leaving office.

Et tu, Mike? In order for Trump to be removed under the 25th Amendment as Pelosi has suggested, Vice President Mike Pence must convince a majority of the president’s cabinet to support removal. Outgoing Education Secretary Betsy Devos will not have to make that choice; she announced her resignation on Thursday, citing Wednesday’s violence. Nor will Elaine Chao, the outgoing Labor Secretary, who also handed in her resignation on Thursday.

Below cabinet level, a string of other Trump staffers are now jumping ship. FP’s Allison Meakem, Audrey Wilson, and Cailey Griffin have compiled a running list.

Writing in Foreign Policy, John R. Allen, a retired U.S. general and the president of the Brookings Institution, makes the case for invoking the 25th amendment immediately.

Impeachment? If Pence stands by the president, another impeachment is possible. Such a move may be newly attractive for the ambitious Senate Republicans wishing to challenge Joe Biden in 2024, especially if they can disqualify Trump from seeking office ever again.

Jonathan Tepperman, Foreign Policy’s editor at large, spoke with Pablo de Greiff, the first U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence to understand how attempts to prosecute other heads of state have fared around the world.

The fallout. The Atlantic Council’s Emma Ashford wrote a piece on misplaced U.S. foreign policy priorities and excessive ambition in the wake of Wednesday’s attack. Ashford argues that a domestic focus must come first: “Washington’s foreign-policy elites remain committed to the preservation of a three-decade foreign policy aimed at reshaping the world in America’s image. They are far too blasé about what that image has become in 2020.”

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn


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