US is in uncharted waters – sheer anger has sparked calls to remove Trump from office now

For the Speaker of the House of Representatives – the third in line of succession to power in the United States – to call for the immediate removal of the president was a breathtaking statement on the crisis of democracy in America.

In the congressional TV studio where Nancy Pelosi made her announcement, it was a stunning moment in 24 hours of unprecedented developments.

The veteran Democrat brushed aside questions of how realistic it would be to remove Donald Trump in the remaining days of his presidency.

“This is urgent,” she said.

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‘Trump committed unspeakable assault on our nation’

It is unlikely she will get the response she wants from Vice President Mike Pence – that he is ready to invoke the 25th amendment and drag Mr Trump from the Oval Office.

It is perhaps equally unlikely that Congress will be able to crank the machinery of impeachment into gear – for the second time in the case of Donald Trump – in the space of two weeks.

But it is sheer anger on the part of members of Congress that is driving these moves, because the violence this week came right to their own doorstep.

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Senator Mark Warner was visibly shaken as he surveyed the damage inside the Capitol building. The smashed windows, defaced statues, ripped door frames and graffiti were, in his mind, squarely the responsibility of Mr Trump.

Storming the Capitol: A timeline

Storming the Capitol: A timeline

Senator Lindsey Graham, a man who has journeyed from a fierce critic of Mr Trump to his weekend golfing buddy, talked chillingly of the possibility that protesters “could have killed us all”.

That the debris of the rampage still littered the corridors a day on was an illustration of an institution that is still rattled by what happened. The beefed-up security and nervous officials were giving off the vibe of being extremely on-edge.

The president’s video message, released more than 24 hours after the violence subsided, did at least contain, finally, a concession of sorts – but the video edits suggest he said more than was released.

The promise of a peaceful transition to Joe Biden will be welcomed in the midst of a worrying unease about everything connected to US politics.

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WH press secretary makes quick getaway from podium

Whether Mr Trump remains on message for the remainder of his presidency is something no one can take for granted.

When even John Kelly, the retired US Marine Corps general who served as Trump’s loyal chief of staff, says members of the cabinet should be gathering to discuss his removal – and that he would vote “Yes” if he were there – you know the country is in uncharted waters.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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