Trump had wanted to join the thousands of hardcore followers who assembled at Capitol Hill on Jan. 6. He told aides in the days leading up to the rally that he planned to accompany them to demonstrate his ire at Congress as it moved to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s November election victory.
But the Secret Service kept warning him that agents could not guarantee his safety if he went ahead, according to two people familiar with the matter. Trump relented and instead hunkered down at the White House to watch television images of the mob rioting he is accused of triggering.
The storming of the U.S. Capitol left five people dead, including a police officer, and threatened the lives of Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress, deeply wounding what remained of Trump’s presidency ahead of Biden’s swearing-in on Jan. 20.
Trump’s fiery, grievance-filled speech from the Ellipse Park on the southern outskirts of the White House was a central focus of this week’s hastily arranged proceedings in the House of Representatives that led to his impeachment on a charge of inciting insurrection.
With Wednesday’s vote, Trump became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, as 10 of his fellow Republicans joined Democrats in denouncing him. But it appears unlikely to lead to his ouster before his term ends since there are no plans to convene a vote in the Republican-led Senate, which alone has the power to remove him.
Even so, the House’s unprecedented rebuke capped a week that has been perilously unstable even for a presidency where chaos has long reigned.