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What next from volatile president?

Editorial

As further details continued to emerge yesterday about the storming of Capitol Hill in Washington by Trump supporters, it became clear that something unprecedented in the history of the United States had occurred.

The fact that a rabble, some of them in camouflage dress and waving the Confederate Flag, could force the Vice President and legislators of the Western World's strongest power to flee is almost beyond belief. To think they were encouraged in their violent assault by the President of the United States, including a phrase “I love you”, frankly beggars belief.

Donald Trump did later remove some tweets and urged the protestors to go home but by then the damage had been done. Trump has been banned by both Twitter and Facebook, the latter until the transition but to many it seems too late. Trump has been a skilful user of social media most notably to push his completely unsubstantiated allegation that the presidential election which he lost by seven million votes, was stolen from him. That led to yesterday's turmoil which saw a woman shot and three people die of medical events.

President-elect Joe Biden called this an insurrection, probably an exaggeration but far from entirely without truth.

Trump has now promised a peaceful transition but fears remain about what the volatile president might do until he steps down on January 20.

It was chilling watching television last night to hear one commentator remind us that he holds the codes for a nuclear attack until then.

That potential risk is, hopefully, probably stretching things a little but there are disruptive things he could still do using executive orders.

The only way he can be removed now is for the Cabinet to invoke section four of the 25th amendment to the US constitution which gives it the power to declare a president unfit and remove him. Although there are signs that the Republican Party is starting to belatedly draw away from him that will probably not happen.

But his actions have blighted the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower once renowned for its integrity and stability despite exceptions like Richard Nixon. The situation has further hurt the image of the United States with America now viewed by many as an empire in decline. There are people who will welcome that but it may be a case of “be careful what you wish for.”

Incoming president Joe Biden has a huge task ahead of him in a divided America and has committed to restoring faith in the rule of law, an important first step in the recovery process.