Washington: Protesters seen walking inside Capitol Building
The Capitol building is now in lockdown after protesters managed to infiltrate the premises, one of whom was carrying the Confederate Flag. A message over the Capitol’s PA system warned those inside: “Lock all doors if able. If unable, seek shelter or concealment. Remain calm and await further directions. I repeat… security threats, security threats, security threats inside the US Capitol.” The protests have erupted because of Donald Trump, who refuses to concede defeat to President-elect Joe Biden.
Protestors including the far-right group Proud Boys have torn down barriers and thrown items at police.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Washington DC Mayor have asked the National Guard to come to Capitol Hill to clear the riots, however, this request was denied.
Former Washington DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey told CNN: “This is as close to a coup attempt this country has ever seen,”
In response, the mayor has ordered a city-wide curfew from 6pm (11pm GMT) until 6am on Thursday, January 6, (11am GMT).
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Vice President Mike Pence rebuffed the President’s demand to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden, something Mr Pence does not even have the powers to authorise.
President Trump has, in his usual fashion, taken to Twitter to air his grievances, having tweeted a number of times in the past hour.
On Mr Pence’s refusal, Mr Trump tweeted: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving states a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”
Likely after assessing the gravity of the situation, the President later added: “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our country. Stay peaceful!”
Could Donald Trump be arrested?
It is not entirely clear whether Mr Trump could be arrested while he is still the President of the United States.
The US Constitution explains how a president can be removed from office for “high crimes and misdemeanours” by Congress using the impeachment process.
But the constitution says nothing on whether a president can face criminal prosecution, and the US Supreme Court has not addressed the issue either.
The US Justice Department has a decades-old policy that a President in office cannot be indicted, indicating it would be unlikely for Mr Trump to be arrested at this point.
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But there is no debate on whether a former president can be arrested or face criminal prosecution procedures.
It is also worth noting that no US President in the past has seen the inside of a police cell.
Mr Trump presents a different case, however, because unlike those in office before him, he has been engaged in a number of nontraditional presidential crimes.
The President could try and pardon himself for all crimes he has ever committed before he leaves on January 20, but nobody knows whether presidents can actually do this because it is yet to happen.
Mr Trump has an array of potential convictions under his belt, including; tax fraud, bank and insurance fraud, campaign finance violations, bribery, negligent homicide, obstruction of justice and re-impeachment.
The President has gone to great lengths not to disclose his taxes before declaring any probing of his finances would cross a “red line”.
In terms of bribery, Andrew Weissman, senior prosecutor notes in his book the initial investigation into the President did not delve into his finances, concluding “we don’t know whether he paid bribes to foreign officials to secure favourable treatment for his business interests”.
Former Special Counsel for the Department of Justice, Robert Mueller, who was investigating the President, admitted that while Presidents cannot be charged in office, “a President does not have immunity after he leaves office”.
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