'We will not be silenced': Trump hits out at Twitter ban
Donald Trump has lashed Twitter after it "permanently suspended" his account.
In a now-deleted series of tweets posted from @POTUS, the official Twitter account of the US President which Mr Trump has largely rejected during his term, he said Twitter had conspired with the "radical left" to silence him.
"As I have been saying for a long time, Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech, and tonight, Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me - and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me," Mr Trump wrote.
The outgoing US President said he and his supporters would "not be silenced", and would look at "building out our own platform in the near future".
"Twitter is not about FREE SPEECH. They are all about promoting a Radical Left platform where some of the most vicious people in the world are allowed to speak freely."
He concluded: "STAY TUNED!"
It came after Twitter "permanently suspended" Mr Trump's personal accout, @realdonaldtrump, after the company determined his tweets had breached its rules against "the glorification of violence".
Mr Trump's permanent suspension - effectively a ban on his account - follows a 12-hour suspension earlier this week after he posted a video telling rioters storming Washington's Capitol building "we love you, you're very special".
It also comes just one day after Facebook announced it would suspend Mr Trump's account for at least two weeks - the remainder of his presidency - as founder Mark Zuckerberg said the "risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great".
In a statement, Twitter said it had made the move to freeze Mr Trump's account "due to the risk of further incitement of violence".
"In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter rules would potentially result in this very course of action," the company said.
"Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.
"However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things."
The company said it had assessed Mr Trump's two tweets following his 12-hour suspension, praising "American patriots who voted for me" and saying they would not be "treated unfairly in any way" and that he would not be attending President Elect Joe Biden's inauguration as part of a broader context of violence.
"As such, our determination is that the two tweets above are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so."
Mr Trump had more than 88 million followers on Twitter before his account was permanently suspended.
Twitter's move in the last days of Mr Trump's presidency also comes after 350 of its employees implored co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey and other top executives to remove his account, calling its earlier 12-hour suspension inadequate.
The Washington Post reported the internal letter also asked for "an investigation into how our public policy decisions led to the amplification of serious anti-democratic threats," and said the social network had served as "Trump's megaphone" to incite the Washington riots.
BIDEN REFUSES TO TAKE STANCE ON DEMOCRATS' IMPEACHMENT MOVE
Joe Biden has distanced himself from a move to impeach Donald Trump, as top US military officials have been asked to put in place measures to curb the US President's ability to launch a nuclear strike.
Quizzed over reports that Democrats could introduce articles of impeachment as soon as Monday (local time) unless Mr Trump steps down willingly or is removed by Cabinet, the President-elect responded: "What the Congress decides to do is for them to decide."
He said his priority presently was preparing for his new administration and had three main concerns: the coronavirus, vaccine, and economic growth.
"I'm focused on the virus, the vaccine and economic growth. What the Congress decides to do is for them to decide. But I'm going to have to, and they're going to have to be ready to hit the ground running, because when Kamala and I are sworn in, we'll be introducing immediately significant pieces of legislation to deal with the virus, deal with the economy, and deal with economic growth," Mr Biden said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not comment on when the impeachment process could commence following a lengthy conversation with her Democratic colleagues.
She said Democrats of the house hoped Mr Trump would "immediately resign" but if he did not, action would be taken.
"Today, the House Democratic Caucus had an hours-long conversation that was sad, moving and patriotic. It was a conversation unlike any other, because it followed an action unlike any other," Mrs Pelosi said.
"It is the hope of Members that the President will immediately resign. But if he does not, I have instructed the Rules Committee to be prepared to move forward with Congressman Jamie Raskin's 25th Amendment legislation and a motion for impeachment. Accordingly, the House will preserve every option - including the 25th Amendment, a motion to impeach or a privileged resolution for impeachment.
"With great respect, our deliberations will continue.
Earlier, Mrs Pelos said she had sought a guarantee from military chiefs that they would prevent a nuclear launch by Mr Trump.
She spoke to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about curbing Mr Trump's ability to launch a military or nuclear strike.
"This unhinged President could not be more dangerous," she said in a statement.
TRUMP TO SKIP BIDEN INAUGURATION
Meanwhile, Mr Trump has confirmed he won't attend Joe Biden's inauguration.
"To all of those who have asked, I will not be going," Mr Trump tweeted.
The statement scuppered any idea that Trump might seek to spend his remaining 12 days helping his Democratic successor to calm tensions.
To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2021
Not since 1869 has an outgoing US president missed the inauguration of the incoming leader, a ceremony symbolising the peaceful transfer of power.
Mr Biden said it was a "good thing" Mr Trump would not be attending.
"He's exceeded my worst notions about him. He's been an embarrassment for the country and embarrassed us around the world. He's not worthy to hold that office," Mr Biden said.
He said Vice President Mike Pence would be "welcome" at his inauguration.
Mr Biden, who won seven million votes more than Mr Trump, as well as a decisive majority in the vital state-by-state Electoral College, will be sworn in on the Capitol Steps under huge security.
Between drastic COVID-19 crowd restrictions, the absence of Trump, and a new "unscalable" fence thrown up around the congressional complex, there will be little of the ordinary inauguration vibe.
PROBE INTO US CAPITOL COP'S DEATH
Washington DC authorities opened a federal murder case over the death of a Capitol police officer who died from injuries incurred while fighting off rioters.
The passing of Officer Brian Sicknick late Thursday night brought to five the number of deaths from the breach of the Capitol.
"The death of Officer Sicknick will be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department's Homicide Branch, the USCP, and our federal partners," said the Capitol Police in a statement.
Mr Sicknick, 42, died a day after collapsing when he returned to his division office. Police told the New York Times and Associated Press that he had been struck on the head with a fire extinguisher.
Police vehicles formed a motorcade early Friday in front of the Capitol and drove to the Washington Monument to honour the fallen officer.
A Trump-supporting Navy veteran, Ashli Babbitt, 35, died after being shot by police in the neck when she was trying to enter the House Chamber and three others died in "medical emergencies".
Investigations into the melee have resulted in dozens of arrests, with 24 rioters appearing in DC Superior Court on Thursday night, local time. One man was arrested with a military style semiautomatic weapon and 11 Molotov cocktails.
TRUMP SUPPORTERS WON'T BE 'DISRESPECTED'
Mr Trump's new-found voice of calm in which he finally conceded to Mr Biden the night before didn't last long, with his earlier return to Twitter a familiar marshaling of his followers.
Although he had finally conceded to Mr Biden the night before and promised an orderly transition of power, he said his MAGA followers would "not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form".
The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2021
Bleeding support, blamed and shamed by fellow world leaders and starved of his social media audience, Mr Trump on Thursday had issued a late-in-the-day condemnation of the mob he had instigated and called for "unity" and "healing".
"Tempers must be cooled and calm restored," he said in a video speech from the White House.
"We must get on with the business of America."
Mr Trump also warned that offenders would be punished.
"To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country," he said.
"And to those who broke the law, you will pay."
Mr Trump had insisted until this point that he could still retain the presidency despite none of his claims of electoral fraud being proven.
"My campaign vigorously pursued every legal avenue to contest the election results," he said.
"My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote."
DEMOCRATS TO DISCUSS IMPEACHMENT
Mr Trump's political enemies will on Saturday (AEDT) meet to discuss impeaching him for a second time after their calls for him to be removed from office were reportedly rejected by Vice President Mike Pence.
With just 11 days remaining in office and Congress on a break, any impeachment of Mr Trump would likely be symbolic. But it would further taint the legacy his behaviour since November 3 has all but destroyed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow senior Democrat Chuck Schumer earlier revealed they had tried to contact Mike Pence to discuss invoking the 25th amendment to remove Mr Trump from office but the vice president refused to take their call.
"Speaker Pelosi and I tried to call the vice president this morning to tell him to do this," Mr Schumer said.
"They kept us on hold for 25 minutes and then said the vice president wouldn't come on the phone."
President-elect Joe Biden earlier slammed Wednesday's rioting as one of the "darkest days" in US history and "an unprecedented assault on our democracy".
"What we witnessed yesterday was not dissent. It was disorder," he said.
"It was not protest. It was chaos. They weren't protesters. Don't dare call them protesters.
"They were rioters, a mob. Insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists."
As the fallout continued with a string of resignations from his Administration and the police chiefs blamed for letting the rioters breach the Capitol, Mr Trump also found himself in new legal peril.
US Attorney Michael Sherwin, the federal prosecutor overseeing Washington DC, would not rule out charging Mr Trump for his role in inciting the riot.
"We're trying to deal with the closest alligators to the boat right now, and those are the people that obviously breached the Capitol and created violence and mayhem there," Mr Sherwin said.
"But yes, we are looking at all actors here. Not only the people who went into the building."
When asked if that included the president Mr Sherwin said: "We're looking at all actors here, and anyone that had a role and the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they're going to be charged".
Mr Trump has previously boasted on social media that he has the power to issue a presidential pardon to himself, an option he has reportedly been discussing with aides in the past two days.
Legal opinion is divided on whether he has the power to pardon himself and if successful it would only protect him from federal charges rather than state ones such as those being pursued by the New York lawyer over his financial dealings within the Trump Organisation.
World leaders including the UK's Boris Johnson and Germany's Angela Merkel piled on Friday, blaming Mr Trump for the mayhem.
"He encouraged people to storm the Capitol, and in so far as the president has consistently cast doubt on the outcome of a free and fair election, I believe that was completely wrong," Mr Johnson said.
"I believe what President Trump has been saying about that has been completely wrong and I unreservedly condemn encouraging people to behave in the disgraceful way that they did in the Capitol."
Mrs Merkel said: "We all saw the unsettling pictures of the storming of the US Congress yesterday evening, and these images made me angry and also sad".
"I regret very much that President Trump not acknowledged his defeat since November and also again not yesterday. Doubts about the election outcome were stirred and created the atmosphere that made the events of last night possible."
In another frustration, Mr Trump will be blocked from posting on Facebook at least until after he leaves office "to ensure that the remaining 13 days and the days after inauguration pass peacefully".
Under increasing fire for its role in fanning extremism, the social media giant said on Thursday morning local time that it would censor Mr Trump "indefinitely".
"We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," said Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg.
"Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete."
With just over a week until Washington's next big public safety test in Mr Biden's inauguration, there were many questions about the apparent collapse of security on Wednesday.
"How could they fail so miserably? We're 20 years from 9/11. Yesterday they could have blown the building up. They could have killed us all. They could have destroyed the government," said Senator Lindsey Graham.
"Warning shots should have been fired. Lethal force should have been used once they penetrated the seat of government."
Republican Senator Roy Blunt, who is on the inauguration committee, also flagged his concerns.
"You want to take one more really hard look at what you thought your crowd security concerns might be for January 20."
Originally published as Trump hit with permanent Twitter ban as he faces impeachment