What was already shaping up as a volatile final stretch to the Trump presidency took on an air of national emergency as the White House emptied out and some Republicans joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a cascade of Democrats calling for Mr. Trump to be removed from office without waiting the 13 days until the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The prospect of actually short-circuiting Mr. Trump’s tenure in its last days appeared remote. Vice President Mike Pence privately ruled out invoking the disability clause of the 25th Amendment to sideline the president, as many had urged that he and the cabinet do, according to officials.
Democrats suggested they could move quickly to impeachment, a step that would have its own logistical and political challenges. Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, the assistant speaker of the House, said Friday on CNN that the Democrats could get an impeachment vote to the House floor as early as the middle of next week.
(The Democrat-led House already impeached Mr. Trump once in December 2019, and he was acquitted in the Senate. The process took months.)
But the highly charged debate about Mr. Trump’s capacity to govern even for less than two weeks underscored the depth of anger and anxiety after the invasion of the Capitol that forced lawmakers to evacuate, halted the counting of the Electoral College votes for several hours and left people dead, including a Capitol Hill police officer who died Thursday night.
After Mr. Trump’s Twitter account was restored, he posted a 2½-minute video on Thursday evening denouncing the mob attack in a way that he had refused to do a day earlier. Reading dutifully from a script prepared by his staff, he declared himself “outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem” and told those who broke the law that “you will pay.”
While he did not give up his false claims of election fraud, he finally conceded defeat. “A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20,” Mr. Trump acknowledged. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
Michael R. Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, did not rule out investigating Mr. Trump himself when he pledged to investigate “all actors” in Wednesday’s siege. The president is said to have discussed pardoning himself.
Despite the talk of healing, however, Mr. Trump quietly made plans to take a trip next week to the southwestern border to highlight his hard-line immigration policies, which have inflamed Washington over the years, according to a person briefed on the planning. He also told advisers he wanted to give a media exit interview, which they presumed might undercut any conciliatory notes. But the first family has discussed leaving the White House for good on Jan. 19, the day before the inauguration.
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