President Trump acknowledged the end of his term in the Oval Office early Thursday morning and said just minutes after Congress formally certified the Electoral College votes in favor of President-elect Joe Biden that there would be an “orderly transition of power” on Jan. 20.
“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 20th,” Trump said in the statement shared by Dan Scavino, the White House deputy chief of staff for communications. “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!”
Scavino shared the statement on Twitter just before 4 a.m., minutes after congressional lawmakers formally tabulated the Electoral College votes showing Biden’s victory. The certification dragged into the early morning hours after the process was interrupted just an hour into debate on Wednesday afternoon when Trump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol in a chaotic and violent episode, resulting in both the House and Senate chambers having to gavel out.
Trump, who has not condemned the violence, had encouraged his supporters to protest the certification process as he and some of his allies undertook a futile effort to overturn the results.
Facebook and Twitter temporarily suspended the president from his social media accounts after his tweets about the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol ran afoul of platform guidelines. In the offending tweets, Trump urged his supporters to go home in peace but also continued to insist falsely that he won the election.
Earlier in the day, Trump told a crowd of supporters he would “never concede,” instead insisting as he has for almost two months that the election was stolen from him through coordinated and widespread fraud — claims that neither he nor his lawyers have proven.
“Make no mistake — this election was stolen from you, from me and from the country,” Trump told supporters.
The breach of the Capitol prompted a host of lawmakers, and Democratic and Republican former U.S. presidents, to call on Trump to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R- Ark.) said in a statement Trump should “quit misleading the American people.” Many have publicly blamed the president for inciting the violence.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has aligned himself closely with Trump, said in a fiery floor speech late Wednesday that he had tried to support the president but “enough is enough.”
“Trump and I, we had a hell of a journey. I hate it being this way. … All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough. … We’ve got to end it,” Graham said.
A handful of White House aides resigned from their positions on Wednesday following the chaos and more were said to be weighing potential exits, two weeks before Trump is set to leave office. Administration officials also began discussions about the extraordinary possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, a source told The Hill late Wednesday, though the conversations appeared to be limited and it was unclear if any Cabinet officials had been involved.
Updated 6:17 a.m. Morgan Chalfant contributed.