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'I can't stay': US envoy to Northern Ireland resigns after pro-Trump rioters storm Capitol Hill

The deputy national security adviser and the first lady’s chief of staff have also resigned.

Mick Mulvaney during his time as White House chief of staff at a coronavirus briefing.
Mick Mulvaney during his time as White House chief of staff at a coronavirus briefing.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

Updated Jan 7th 2021, 1:12 PM

THE US SPECIAL ENVOY for Northern Ireland has said that he is resigning from his role following on from a pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill last night.

In the days before Trump supporters broke through barricades and swarmed inside the Capitol yesterday, Trump had encouraged people to march on Washington in a protest against allowing the US Congress to formally approve the November election result.

Many members of White House staff have resigned and Republican politicians have changed their stance on opposing the election result after the Capitol Hill riot. 

Mick Mulvaney told CNBC in an exclusive interview today: “I called [Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo last night to let him know I was resigning from that.

“I can’t do it. I can’t stay. 

“Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in,” he said.

In the aftermath of the November presidential election, Mulvaney said that if Donald Trump lost, he would “absolutely” put him on a shortlist to run again in 2024.

So far, several White House officials, including the deputy national security adviser, have resigned after pro-Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building yesterday. 

Th US Congress this morning affirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election, after the riot forced a delay in the process.

Trump supporters broke through barricades and swarmed inside the Capitol building, rampaging through offices and engaging in standoffs with police. 

upi-20190909 Stephanie Grisham, one of the White House staff members who has resigned since yesterday's riots. Source: UPI/PA Images

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s chief of staff and a former White House press secretary, submitted her resignation, but declined to say what has prompted her move.

Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, White House social secretary Rickie Niceta and deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews also resigned, according to officials.

dc-press-secretary-kayleigh-mcenany-press-briefing-at-the-white-house Image of White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews earlier this year. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

The New York Times White House correspondent has also said on Twitter that more resignations are expected today.

One of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, senator Lindsey Graham, said “enough is enough”.

Representative Nancy Mace said Trump’s accomplishments in office “were wiped out” yesterday.

Former Republican president George W Bush described the violent mob as “a sickening and heartbreaking sight”.

He declined to call out Trump or his allies, but the implication was clear when Bush said the siege “was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes”.

Representative Liz Cheney, a senior House Republican and the daughter of Bush’s vice president, was much more direct in an interview on Fox News.

“There’s no question the president formed the mob. The president incited the mob,” she said. “He lit the flame.”

Reserved Republicans

ny-pro-trump-riot-in-washington-dc Rioters breaching through the windows into the Capitol building in Washington DC yesterday. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Despite this criticism, the overwhelming majority of the Republican party has been far more reserved, eager to keep Trump’s fiery base on their side.

His grip on his party appeared weakened when members of Congress returned to the Capitol last night, having spent several hours hiding in secure locations after being evacuated.

Before they left, a handful of Republican senators and more than 100 Republican House members were set to oppose the vote to certify Biden’s presidential victory.

It was led by senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, each with his own 2024 presidential ambitions, over the objection of Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who warned that that US democracy “would enter a death spiral” if Congress rejected state election results.

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When they resumed debate, much of the energy decreased and several Republicans dropped their objections. Hawley and Cruz did not, but they offered scaled-back arguments.

Hawley condemned the day’s violence but also called for an investigation into “irregularities and fraud”. Earlier in the day, his home town newspaper, the Kansas City Star, released an editorial charging that he “has blood on his hands” for enabling Trump’s false claims.

Others Republicans were clearly more concerned about the day’s violence and the events that preceded them.

“Dear MAGA (Make America Great Again) – I am one of you,” former White House aide Alyssa Farah tweeted.

“But I need you to hear me: the Election was NOT stolen. We lost.”

Jefferson Thomas, who led Trump’s campaign in Colorado, expressed regret about joining his team in the first place, calling Wednesday’s events “an embarrassment to our country”.

“This isn’t what I ever imagined when I signed up to #MAGA. Had I known then that this is how it would end, I never would’ve joined,” he wrote on Twitter.

Trump’s former secretary of defence, James Mattis, who denounced the president as a threat to the constitution last year, described the violent assault on the Capitol as “an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule… fomented by Mr Trump”.

“His use of the presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice,” Mattis said.

Anthony Scaramucci, a former Trump aide, offered his harshest words for Trump’s Republican enablers, tweeting: “Republican elected officials still supporting Trump need to be tried alongside of him for treason.”

- With reporting by Orla Dwyer. 

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