The top Democrats in Congress called on Thursday for President Trump’s immediate removal from office for his role in urging on the violent mob that overtook the Capitol a day before, disrupting the ratification of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s electoral victory.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows him and the cabinet to wrest the power of the presidency from Mr. Trump.
If Mr. Pence declines to act, they said, Democrats were prepared to impeach Mr. Trump for a second time.
“While it’s only 13 days left, any day can be a horror show for America,” Ms. Pelosi said, calling Mr. Trump’s actions on Wednesday a “seditious act.”
The speaker’s plan was announced during an extraordinary news conference in the reclaimed Capitol, hours after the building was overrun by a mob of Trump supporters who temporarily halted Congress’s confirmation of Mr. Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Speaking to reporters, Ms. Pelosi singled out members of the cabinet by name, asking why they would not intervene.
“Are they ready to say for the next 13 days this dangerous man can assault our democracy?” Ms. Pelosi said of the cabinet.
She said she hoped to have an answer from Mr. Pence by the end of the day on whether he would attempt to use the 25th Amendment. The two leaders tried to call the vice president directly on Thursday but were left on a holding line for 20 minutes without him picking up. Mr. Pence is opposed to invoking the 25th Amendment, a person close to the vice president said Thursday evening.
It was unclear how quickly Democrats could move to impeach Mr. Trump. There is no clear precedent for putting a former official on trial in the Senate, and with only 13 days left in his term, it was not certain Democrats could actually accomplish such a complicated and politically fraught process on a compressed timetable.
Mr. Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, said: “What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer.”
Ms. Pelosi was the most prominent voice in a growing chorus of Democrats, and a few Republicans, who surveyed the aftermath of Wednesday’s historic events and concluded Mr. Trump was too dangerous to remain in office until Jan. 20, when Mr. Biden is set to be sworn in.
Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, had issued a similar call earlier on Thursday, posting on Twitter that the president had become “unmoored not just from his duty or from his oath but from reality itself.”
His statement followed similar ones by Representatives Charlie Crist and Ted Lieu on Wednesday and a letter signed by 17 Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee was sent to Mr. Pence calling to invoke the 25th Amendment.
Gov. Larry Hogan, Republican of Maryland, echoed those calls on Thursday, saying, “I think there’s no question that America would be better off if the president would resign or be removed from office.”
Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden transition, did not take a stand on the 25th Amendment or impeachment.
“President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are focused on their duty — preparing to take office on Jan. 20 — and will leave it to Vice President Pence, the cabinet and the Congress to act as they see fit,” Mr. Bates said. “In the meantime, Donald Trump must stop blocking cooperation with the transition that could harm the readiness of the United States government to overcome the pandemic and the other crises he has worsened.”
On Thursday morning, a Washington-based law firm, Crowell & Moring, which represents a number of Fortune 500 companies, added its voice to the growing chorus of civic and business leaders calling for the president’s removal. In asking other lawyers to join, the firm said that “when it comes to defending our Constitution and our system of laws, we have a special duty and an exceptional perspective.”
A bipartisan group of more than two dozen lawyers, including a former top Trump administration official, also called on Thursday for Mr. Trump to be removed from office.
“Both constitutional remedies are necessary and appropriate to hold Trump accountable and to protect the nation,” the group said. “Those processes should be carried out immediately, unless he resigns first.”
The group included many conservative lawyers, including the former general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security, John Mitnick; and the ardent Trump critic George Conway, the husband of Mr. Trump’s former adviser Kellyanne Conway. Also among the group was the liberal Harvard Law School professor Laurence H. Tribe.
Vice President Mike Pence is opposed to a call by Democrats in Congress and some Republicans to invoke the 25th Amendment to strip President Trump of his powers before his term ends, a person close to the vice president said.
It is unclear when Mr. Pence will alert Congress of his position. But the decision by Mr. Pence is said to be supported by several Trump cabinet officials. Those officials, a senior Republican said, viewed the effort as likely to add to the current chaos in Washington rather than deter it.
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, read a statement to reporters on Thursday “on behalf of the entire White House” condemning the violence by Trump supporters at the Capitol complex a day earlier in “the strongest possible terms.”
“Those who violently besieged our Capitol are the opposite of everything this administration stands for,” she said, though she made no mention of President Trump or his speech that set the violence in motion.
The president’s silence on the violent mob stretched to nearly 24 hours as Ms. McEnany spoke for two minutes, then immediately left the White House’s press briefing room without questions from reporters.
She called for full prosecution of those who breached the Capitol. “What we saw yesterday was a group of violent rioters undermining the legitimate First Amendment rights” of Trump supporters who had gathered by the National Mall to protest the results of the election, which Mr. Trump has repeatedly declared was stolen from him.
The Justice Department said on Thursday that it would not rule out pursuing charges against President Trump for his possible role a day earlier in encouraging a mob of his supporters to march on the Capitol just before thousands stormed the building.
“We are looking at all actors, not only the people who went into the building,” Michael R. Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, told reporters.
Mr. Sherwin was asked whether such targets would include Mr. Trump, who exhorted supporters during a rally near the White House, telling them that they could never “take back our country with weakness.” Propelled by Mr. Trump’s baseless claims of election irregularities, the protesters had gathered to demonstrate against Congress’ certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College victory and moved on to the Capitol after the president’s rally.
Mr. Sherwin said that he stood by his statement. “We’re looking at all actors,” he said. “If the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they’re gonna be charged.”
His comments were an extraordinary invocation of the rule of law against a president who has repeatedly pressured law enforcement officials to advance his personal and political agendas. The Justice Department generally views that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.
Mr. Trump is also said to have discussed in recent weeks the possibility of pardoning himself, an unprecedented and untested use of presidential power, but it is uncertain whether that would ultimately protect him.
Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., also told the crowd on Wednesday that Republicans in Congress should back Mr. Trump’s efforts to undo the election result: “We’re coming for you,” he said of lawmakers who refused. And Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, said that to win the election, his supporters would need to engage in “trial by combat” against Democrats.
Federal prosecutors filed on Thursday their first charges stemming from the riot, charging one man with assaulting a police officer and another with illegally possessing a loaded handgun.
Both criminal complaints were filed in Federal District Court in Washington. The city’s Metropolitan Police Department had announced earlier that they had arrested nearly 70 people at the riot on charges that included unlawful entry, gun possession and assault.
In a separate statement, the Capitol Police announced the arrest of 14 other people on Thursday.
The first federal complaint accused Mark J. Leffingwell of assaulting a Capitol Police officer around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday in a hallway in the Senate wing of the Capitol building. The officer, Daniel Amendola, said in the complaint that Mr. Leffingwell was part of a crowd that had “breached a window.” When Officer Amendola sought to stop him and others from entering the building any further, Mr. Leffingwell punched him repeatedly in the head and chest, according to the complaint. Mr. Leffingwell then “spontaneously apologized.”
Prosecutors also unsealed charges against a Maryland resident, Christopher Alberts, accusing him of illegally carrying a black Taurus 9-millimeter pistol at the riot. Officers first saw Mr. Alberts leaving the Capitol complex around 7:30 p.m. and noticed “a bulge” on his right hip. When they stopped Mr. Alberts, the officers found the pistol, which had one round in the chamber and a magazine filled with twelve rounds, according to the complaint. They also discovered that he was wearing a bulletproof vest and had a gas mask in his backpack.
After he was taken into custody, the complaint said, Mr. Alberts told the police that he had the weapon for “personal protection” and did not intend to harm anyone.
John F. Kelly, a former chief of staff to President Trump who has criticized him on several occasions since leaving his post two years ago, said on Thursday that if he were still in the cabinet, he would vote to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Mr. Trump “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
“I don’t think it’ll happen, but I think the cabinet should meet and discuss this, because the behavior yesterday and the weeks and months before that has just been outrageous from the president,” Mr. Kelly said on CNN. “And what happened on Capitol Hill yesterday is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the frauds.”
When the CNN host Jake Tapper asked whether he would support invoking the 25th Amendment if he were in the cabinet, Mr. Kelly paused for a moment before saying, “Yes, I would.”
Mr. Trump’s incitement of the mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday led multiple administration officials, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, to resign and has drawn criticism even from Republicans who previously stood by the president.
But given that members of the Trump administration will be out of a job in 13 days and that Democrats will control the White House and both chambers of Congress, the resignations and rebukes have little, if any, practical significance.
Congressional Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have called on Vice President Mike Pence to start the process of declaring Mr. Trump unfit for office, and Ms. Pelosi said impeaching Mr. Trump a second time was a possibility if Mr. Pence did not do so.
In his interview on CNN, Mr. Kelly said that Mr. Trump simply did not listen to dissent within his administration.
“You don’t survive on telling this president the truth,” he said. “Not for very long, anyway.”
Elaine Chao, the secretary of transportation, is resigning after President Trump’s incitement of a mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, she announced in a letter posted on Twitter.
Ms. Chao, who is married to Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, is the first cabinet official to join a growing exodus of administration officials in the final days of the Trump administration — largely symbolic resignations given that most would have been out of jobs with the change of administration anyway.
In the letter, she said that she would leave her post on Jan. 11 and that her office would cooperate with President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s nominee for transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg.
“Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the president stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed,” Ms. Chao wrote. “As I’m sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”
Ms. Chao decided to quit on Wednesday as she watched the events at the Capitol unfold on television, but held off until speaking with her department staff, according to a person with direct knowledge of her actions.
She briefly discussed the matter with Mr. McConnell when he returned, exhausted, from the Capitol at about 5 a.m. Thursday, then consulted with him again after he had rested. Both agreed it was the right thing to do, the person said, adding that one of her primary concerns was staying on long enough to ensure a smooth transition to Mr. Buttigieg, whom she plans to speak with on Friday.
A Republican official said more cabinet resignations were coming.
The acting chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Tyler Goodspeed, also resigned on Thursday, as did the president’s deputy national security adviser, Matt Pottinger, a person familiar with his decision said. (Mr. Pottinger had been a key advocate inside the White House for a stronger response to the coronavirus and was ridiculed by co-workers for wearing a mask to work, according to The New Yorker.) And Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s former acting chief of staff, resigned as special envoy to Northern Ireland on Wednesday night.
“The events of yesterday made my position no longer tenable,” Mr. Goodspeed said in a brief interview after informing the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, of his decision.
Mr. Mulvaney, who once defended the president’s move to suspend $391 million in aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into his political rivals and was pushed out as acting chief of staff in March, said in an interview with CNBC on Thursday, that he had called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the night before.
“I can’t stay here, not after yesterday,” Mr. Mulvaney said, tying his resignation to the violence at the Capitol. “You can’t look at that yesterday and think ‘I want to be part of that’ in any way, shape or form.”
Mr. Mulvaney praised the small group of people who had quit on Wednesday.
One official — Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien — plans to stay, in part out of concern about leaving no one in the government at its tumultuous end, another person familiar with events said.
And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also will remain in his job and carry out his responsibilities until Mr. Biden is inaugurated, according to a person familiar with his thinking. Traveling in Israel on Thursday, Mr. Mnuchin condemned the violence but made no mention of Mr. Trump.
“These actions are unacceptable and must stop,” he said.
In the hours after Mr. Trump took to social media on Wednesday to openly condone the violence at the Capitol, he found himself increasingly isolated.
Stephanie Grisham, the former White House press secretary who served as the chief of staff to Melania Trump, the first lady, submitted her resignation. Ms. Grisham had worked for the Trumps since the 2016 campaign and was one of their longest-serving aides.
Rickie Niceta, the White House social secretary, also said she was resigning, according to an administration official familiar with her plans. So did Sarah Matthews, a deputy White House press secretary, who said in a statement that she was “deeply disturbed by what I saw today.”
John Costello, one of the country’s most senior cybersecurity officials, also resigned Wednesday, telling associates that the violence on Capitol Hill was his “breaking point” and, he hoped, “a wake up call.”
Mr. Goodspeed had led the economic council since July and served in several economic positions since 2017. His departure leaves no members on the council, which traditionally consists of a chair and two other people. Its last Senate-confirmed chairman, Kevin Hassett, left the White House in 2019, and the former acting chairman, Tomas Philipson, departed in June.
Outside of government, a Pennsylvania lawyer who worked for the Trump campaign withdrew on Thursday, saying in a court filing that his services had been used “to perpetrate a crime.”
The lawyer, Jerome Marcus, has been an attorney on a federal lawsuit involving the access of Republican poll watchers in Philadelphia. In a statement, Mr. Marcus said that case and others like it “were used by President Trump to incite people to violence.”
“I refer specifically to his urging people to come to Washington for a ‘wild’ protest,” he said. “I want absolutely no part of that.”
Nicole Perlroth and Alan Rappeport contributed reporting.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday introduced his pick for attorney general, Judge Merrick B. Garland, declaring that the longtime federal jurist would serve as an impartial arbiter of justice and not as a “personal attorney to the president” — a pointed rebuke of President Trump’s approach.
Judge Garland will be “the people’s lawyer,” Mr. Biden declared at an event in Wilmington, Del.
“You won’t work for me,” Mr. Biden said of the leaders of his Justice Department. “You are not the president or the vice president’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation, to guarantee justice.”
Mr. Biden also introduced three other nominees for top positions at the Justice Department, which experienced a period of increased politicization under Mr. Trump. And he began by angrily denouncing the riot at the Capitol on Wednesday incited by the outgoing president.
Calling it “one of the darkest days in the history of our nation,” Mr. Biden forcefully laid blame at the feet of Mr. Trump, pointing to his conduct not just in the aftermath of the November election, but over the past four years.
“What we witnessed yesterday was not dissent,” Mr. Biden said. “It was not disorder. It was not protest. It was chaos. They weren’t protesters. Don’t dare call them protesters. They were a riotous mob, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists. It’s that basic. It’s that simple.”
“And I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming,” he continued. “But that isn’t true. We could see it coming.”
Mr. Biden also spoke of how the rioters were treated by law enforcement. “No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” he said. “We all know that’s true, and it is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable.”
The attorney general had been the most prominent position in Mr. Biden’s cabinet that was still unfilled with Inauguration Day approaching.
Judge Garland currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. President Barack Obama nominated him to the Supreme Court in 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, but Senate Republicans blocked his nomination.
“As everyone who watched yesterday’s events in Washington now understands if they did not understand before, the rule of law is not just some lawyer’s turn of phrase,” Judge Garland said at the event with Mr. Biden. “It is the very foundation of our democracy.”
President Trump has suggested to aides that he wants to pardon himself in the final days of his presidency, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions, a move that would mark one of the most extraordinary uses of presidential power in American history.
In several conversations since Election Day, Mr. Trump has told advisers that he is considering giving himself a pardon and, in other instances, asked whether he should and what the impact would be on him legally and politically, according to the two people.
Mr. Trump has shown signs that his interest goes beyond idle musings. He has long maintained that he has the power to pardon himself, and his polling of aides’ views is typically a sign that he is preparing to follow through on his aims. He has also become increasingly convinced that his perceived enemies will use the levers of law enforcement to target him after he leaves office.
No president has ever pardoned himself, so the legitimacy of doing so has never been tested in the justice system, and legal scholars are divided about whether the courts would recognize it. But they agree a presidential self-pardon could create a dangerous precedent for presidents to unilaterally declare they are above the law and to insulate themselves from being held accountable for any crimes they committed in office.
A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
The extent of Mr. Trump’s criminal exposure is unclear. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, outlined 10 instances in which Mr. Trump may have obstructed justice but declined to say whether he had broken the law, citing legal and factual constraints on prosecuting a sitting president. Former Justice Department officials and legal experts said that several of the acts should be prosecuted.
The discussions about a self-pardon came before Mr. Trump pressured Georgia officials to help him overturn the election results and incited the riot at the Capitol. Mr. Trump’s allies believe that both episodes increased his criminal exposure.
Presidential pardons apply only to federal law and provide no protection against state crimes. They would not apply to charges that could be brought by prosecutors in Manhattan investigating the Trump Organization’s finances.
A day after a mob of pro-Trump supporters storming the Capitol, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California announced that Paul D. Irving, the House Sergeant at Arms, intended to resign from his position.
She also called for Steven Sund, the Capitol Police chief, to resign, saying “Mr. Sund, he hasn’t even called us since this happened.”
Ms. Pelosi’s updates came after Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said he would fire Michael C. Stenger, the Senate sergeant-at-arms, as soon as Democrats took the majority. The statement was first reported by Politico.
“If Senate Sergeant Arms Stenger hasn’t vacated the position by then, I will fire him as soon as Democrats have a majority in the Senate,” Mr. Schumer said.
The sergeants-at-arms are responsible for security in their respective chambers and related office buildings.
Mr. Stenger, who has held the position since April 2018, spent 35 years in the Secret Service and is a former captain in the Marine Corps.
Mr. Schumer’s statement comes as lawmakers in both chambers and from both parties vowed on Thursday to find out how those responsible for Capitol security allowed a violent mob to infiltrate the Capitol. House Democrats announced a “robust” investigation into the law enforcement breakdown.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said in a statement that “a painstaking investigation and thorough review,” was needed after the events of Wednesday, which he described as “a massive failure of institutions, protocols, and planning that are supposed to protect the first branch of our federal government.”
Mr. McConnell added that “the ultimate blame for yesterday lies with the unhinged criminals who broke down doors, trampled our nation’s flag, fought with law enforcement, and tried to disrupt our democracy, and with those who incited them.
“But this fact does not and will not preclude our addressing the shocking failures in the Capitol’s security posture and protocols.”
Michelle Obama, the former first lady, called on social media companies to permanently ban President Trump on Thursday in the aftermath of a violent mob he incited at the Capitol.
“Now is the time for Silicon Valley to stop enabling this monstrous behavior — and go even further than they have already by permanently banning this man from their platforms,” Mrs. Obama wrote in a lengthy statement posted on Twitter. “If we have any hope of improving this nation, now is the time for swift and serious consequences.”
Earlier on Thursday, Facebook said it would block Mr. Trump on its platforms at least until the end of his term on Jan. 20, as the mainstream online world moved forcefully to limit the president after years of inaction.
Mrs. Obama also highlighted the contrast in police response to the mob at the Capitol, when compared with the Black Lives Matter protests that were met with brutal force last year.
“In city after city, day after day, we saw peaceful protesters met with brute force. We saw cracked skulls and mass arrests, law enforcement pepper spraying its way through a peaceful demonstration for a presidential photo op,” she wrote, adding that seeing the inequality of force used was “so painful. It hurts.”
“Yesterday made it painfully clear that certain Americans are, in fact, allowed to denigrate the flag and symbols of our nation,” Mrs. Obama wrote. “They’ve just got to look the right way.”
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to announce Gina M. Raimondo, the governor of Rhode Island, as his commerce secretary and Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston as his labor secretary, as he moves to fill key economic positions that are expected to play a significant role in his administration.
Mr. Biden is also expected to name Isabel Guzman, a small business advocate and former Obama administration official, to run the Small Business Administration.
Mr. Walsh, 53, led Boston’s powerful Building and Construction Trades Council for two years before winning his race for mayor in 2013 with strong backing from organized labor. He is expected to work on fulfilling Mr. Biden’s promise to implement stronger worker protections amid the pandemic and to boost worker pay.
It will fall to the next labor secretary to revisit a number of key regulations issued by the department under President Trump, including a rule that makes it harder for employees of contractors and franchises to recover stolen wages from parent companies when their direct employers lack the resources to do so.
Ms. Raimondo, a moderate Democrat with a background in the financial industry, has served as governor since 2015. She is seen as a relatively traditional choice for commerce secretary, a sprawling post that oversees relations with the business community but also technology regulation, weather monitoring and the gathering of economic data, among other duties.
As governor of Rhode Island, Ms. Raimondo introduced training programs, cut taxes and eliminated regulations to support businesses. She clashed with unions but ultimately found compromise as she overhauled the state pension plan.
Before running for office, she was a founding employee at the investment firm Village Ventures, which was backed by Bain Capital, and co-founded her own venture capital firm, Point Judith Capital. Ms. Raimondo has a law degree from Yale University and earned a doctorate from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes scholar.
As commerce secretary, Ms. Raimondo will control an agency that was at the forefront of an economic fight with China during the Trump administration.
A sprawling agency with nearly 50,000 employees, the Commerce Department has used its vast power to curtail the access of Chinese companies to the American market and technology. The department also played a role in levying significant tariffs on trading partners on the basis of national security, under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
It carried out investigations into the effect of imported steel and aluminum on the domestic industry, which led to President Trump imposing global metal tariffs. It also investigated whether imports of cars and car parts, uranium and titanium sponges posed a threat to national security. While those investigations determined that imports harmed American interests, the Trump administration did not impose tariffs.
Mr. Biden has criticized Mr. Trump for imposing national-security-related tariffs on America’s closest allies, suggesting he may ultimately choose to roll back such an authority.
The events of the last 48 hours — Tuesday’s Democratic takeover of the Senate and Wednesday’s mob violence at the Capitol by President Trump supporters — fundamentally altered the trajectory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidency two weeks before his hand touches the bible.
Once chatty, malaprop-prone and accessible, Mr. Biden has transformed himself into a figure of distance and dignity, taking advantage of the spotlight-hogging futility of Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the election. He has been able to quietly assemble a team and plan for the battles ahead.
The violence, in the view of several people in Mr. Biden’s immediate orbit, has mellowed the intensity of Republican opposition to him, especially among the members of the chamber most eager to distance themselves from Mr. Trump’s antics.
Most notable among them: the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, who had defined unseating President Obama as his primary goal at this point in 2009; and Lindsey Graham, the Republican from South Carolina who has buddied up to both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump over the years.
There is nothing quite like huddling behind barricaded doors with an armed mob roaming the hallways to rekindle the dying embers of bipartisanship. But nobody expects it to last.
Mr. Trump incited the riot and Mr. Biden, a senator for nearly four decades, is universally regarded as a guardian of the institution — which matters a great deal to people like Mr. McConnell.
What does this mean in the short term? For starters, it is likely to diminish (but not eliminate) opposition to Mr. Biden’s cabinet picks, although big fights loom.
Mr. Graham on Wednesday, for instance, praised Merrick Garland, the president-elect’s choice for attorney general, and other senators have signaled a less combative approach that has not been seen since the days before social media provocation dominated the discourse.
The landscape was dramatically altered even before the riot, with the double triumph of the two Democrats, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, in the Georgia Senate runoff elections on Tuesday.
The Biden team had quietly downplayed the idea that they would actually win — in part out of superstition, several jittery Democratic aides suggested in the days leading up to the election.
In the most basic sense, the addition of two Democrats means Mr. Biden needs fewer Republican votes and, just as important, has control over which bills are sent to the floor, a major lever of power unappreciated outside of Washington.
But the pressure from Mr. Biden’s left flank to use these powers will be great. Democrats fear a Republican takeover of the House in 2022, and a similar possibility looms in the deadlocked upper chamber.
Many in Mr. Biden’s circle believe he has two years to jam through Democratic priorities, starting with his pledge to pass a $2,000 payment to Americans to ease the economic hardship of the pandemic. That tension — whether to go it alone or wait for compromise — is likely to define his presidency.
“Biden will say all the public things about how he needs to get Republican support, but the truth is that this fundamentally changes the dynamic,” said David Krone, former chief of staff to former Senator Harry Reid, the last Democratic majority leader. “Democrats now control the floor. So he can bring up all kinds of bills that would have been blocked by the Republicans, and force votes on big bills — like a major infrastructure package.”
Then there’s Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will have more power as the tiebreaking presiding office in a 50-50 deadlocked Senate.
It will also ensure her visibility as Mr. Biden’s partner and natural successor.
Former Attorney General William P. Barr said Thursday that President Trump betrayed his office by encouraging a mob of supporters to intimidate Congress into overturning the election results by storming the Capitol, joining former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in blaming Mr. Trump for the violence.
Mr. Barr, who stepped down from office last month under pressure from Mr. Trump, said in a statement to The Associated Press that the president’s conduct betrayed “his office and supporters” and that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.”
Mr. Barr was widely seen as the cabinet member who did the most to advance the president’s political agenda, and the statement was unusually strong given Mr. Barr’s praise for the president in his departure letter even as Mr. Trump pressured the Justice Department to help his effort to overturn the election results.
Immediately after a violent mob of Mr. Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, Mr. Mattis was among the first former cabinet officials to directly blame Mr. Trump, calling the attack “an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule” that was “fomented by Mr. Trump.”
Former Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and retired Gen. Joseph Dunford, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Mr. Trump, also criticized the politicians who had supported Mr. Trump’s claims and spread false information about the election.
Current law enforcement officials have not gone so far as to acknowledge Mr. Trump’s role in encouraging the attack.
The acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, called the violence at the Capitol “an intolerable attack on a fundamental institution of our democracy,” and said that law enforcement officials were working to find, arrest and charge rioters. And the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, said that the bureau would “pursue those involved in criminal activity” during the mayhem.
Also on Thursday, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Eric S. Dreiband, told his staff that he was leaving the Trump administration effective the following day. While many department leaders left after the election, his abrupt announcement took some people who worked for him by surprise.
He did not cite a reason or say whether his departure was tied to Mr. Trump’s conduct and the riots, but he quoted Martin Luther King Jr. at length, saying: “Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be.”
In the aftermath of a violent mob invading the Capitol building on Wednesday, calls in Congress are growing for President Trump to be stripped of his power from office under the disability clause of the 25th Amendment.
The amendment provides a complex, difficult process for wresting power from a sitting president. Here is a brief history of the 25th Amendment and an explanation of how it operates.
What is the 25th Amendment?
The 25th Amendment to the Constitution is primarily designed to clarify the presidential order of succession. The first three sections deal with when a president resigns, dies or becomes ill or temporarily incapacitated.
The fourth section provides a multistep process for the vice president and a majority of the officials who lead executive agencies — commonly thought of as the cabinet — to declare that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” That process ultimately requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress.
How did the 25th Amendment come about?
In the aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, there was some confusion about how to choose a new vice president after Lyndon B. Johnson became president. And there was concern about what might happen if Johnson fell ill or was incapacitated before his replacement was found. Congress formally proposed the 25th Amendment in 1965, and the amendment became part of the Constitution in 1967, after 38 states ratified it.
How would it actually work, if invoked now?
The first step would be for Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the cabinet to provide a written declaration to the president pro tempore of the Senate (currently Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa) and the speaker of the House (currently Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California) that Mr. Trump “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” That would immediately strip Mr. Trump of the powers of his office and make Mr. Pence the acting president.
But the 25th Amendment would allow Mr. Trump to immediately send a written declaration of his own to Mr. Grassley and Ms. Pelosi saying that he is in fact able to perform his duties. That would immediately allow him to resume his duties, unless Mr. Pence and the cabinet send another declaration to the congressional leaders within four days restating their concerns. Mr. Pence would take over again as acting president.
That declaration would require Congress to assemble within 48 hours and to vote within 21 days. If two-thirds of members of both the House and the Senate agreed that Mr. Trump was unable to continue as president, he would be stripped permanently of the position, and Mr. Pence would continue serving as acting president. If the vote in Congress fell short, Mr. Trump would resume his duties.
Would that ever happen?
The authors of the 25th Amendment intended it to be a difficult process that would make it exceedingly rare. They succeeded.
To put it in context, it is even more difficult to strip a president of power under the 25th Amendment than it is under the impeachment process. A president can be impeached by a simple majority in the House and removed from office by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Stripping a president of power under the 25th Amendment requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers.
The Pentagon is deploying more than 5,000 additional National Guard troops from six states to Washington, and the troops will stay through the inauguration later this month, a senior Pentagon official said Thursday.
After pleas from Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, the Pentagon mobilized all 1,100 available District of Columbia National Guard troops on Wednesday afternoon to confront the violent mob that had stormed the Capitol. About 340 D.C. National Guard had been called up earlier in the week to help with crowd and traffic control.
An additional 5,100 Guard troops from Virginia, Maryland, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are expected to arrive in Washington over the next several days and remain through Jan. 20 for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration, the senior official said.
That will bring the total number of Guard troops in the capital to 6,200.
Pentagon officials said that the additional Guard personnel would support local police and federal law enforcement officers.
In June, some 5,000 Guard troops — from the District of Columbia and a dozen states — were rushed to the streets of the capital to help in the crackdown on mostly peaceful protesters and occasional looters after the killing of George Floyd in police custody.
Some Republican lawmakers on Thursday joined a chorus of Democrats calling for the removal of President Trump from office for his role in inciting a riotous mob to storm the U.S. Capitol.
They did not, however, say if they would support impeaching the president, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi had threatened if Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Trump’s cabinet failed to strip the president of his powers by invoking the 25th Amendment.
Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and the first Republican lawmaker to call for invoking the 25th Amendment after the riot, said that Mr. Trump had “abdicated his duty to protect the American people” by inciting an “insurrection.”
“The president has become unmoored, not just from his duty, or even his oath, but from reality itself,” Mr. Kinzinger, an early opponent of efforts to subvert the results of the election, said in a video posted on Twitter. “It is time to invoke the 25th Amendment and end this nightmare.”
Gov. Larry Hogan, Republican of Maryland and a frequent critic of President Trump within his party, echoed those calls.
“I think there’s no question that America would be better off if the president would resign or be removed from office,” Mr. Hogan said in a news conference addressing the violence. “Enough of the lies. Enough of the hate. Enough of the total dysfunction. Just, enough.”
Representative Steve Stivers, Republican of Ohio, said that he also supported stripping Mr. Trump of his powers through the 25th Amendment. He did not rule out supporting impeachment but argued that Congress could not remove the president through the impeachment process in the time remaining in Mr. Trump’s term.
“The cabinet decides on the 25th Amendment, and if the cabinet decided to do that, I would not oppose it,” Mr. Stivers, a former chairman of the House Republican campaign arm, said in a television appearance. “I do not believe that an impeachment can happen in 13 days.”