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CRISIS IN WASHINGTON

Trump, Pence met in Oval Office on Monday night for first time since crisis erupted Wednesday

BREAKING: US Homeland Security secretary resigns days before inauguration, FBI warns of armed protests being planned for DC, all 50 state capitals

U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

With just eight days to go before the inaugural of the next American president on Jan. 20, tensions are running high.

“The FBI received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January,” states an FBI bulletin. “They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment, a huge uprising will occur.” 

POTUS is an acronym for President of the United States.

Security officials are growing increasingly concerned for the safety of those who will be involved in the ceremony. There is also intelligence indicating that armed protests are being planned not only for Washington, D.C., but in all 50 state capitals.

More than 15,000 National Guard troops will deployed in D.C. for the inauguration, and the U.S. Secret Service is ratcheting up plans to safeguard events at the Capitol and White House.

Yet in an unsettling development, acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Monday announced his immediate resignation, effective at 11:59 pm last night. 

Wolf is the third Trump Cabinet secretary to resign since Wednesday. 

President Trump on Thursday abruptly withdrew Wolf’s nomination to be the full-time Homeland Security chief hours after Wolf publicly urged Trump to more “strongly condemn” the attacks on the Capitol. 

“This is unacceptable — these violent actions are unconscionable, and I implore the President and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday,” Wolf wrote on Twitter.

The White House insisted that the president’s decision to withdraw Wolf’s nomination was not connected to Wolf’s statements.

Wolf reportedly had planned to stay in office until President-elect Joe Biden's team appointed a new secretary, but concluded he could not continue working with Trump.

Meanwhile, with millions of people in Israel and throughout the Middle East focused on the ongoing crisis in Washington in the final days of the Trump presidency, the unprecedented rupture between the American commander-in-chief and the vice president of the United States has been one of the most bizarre aspects of the drama.

For at least five full days since last Wednesday, the president and VP have neither seen each other nor spoken to each other, though that finally changed Monday evening.

“President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence have spoken for the first time since last week’s Capitol insurrection, during which Pence was forced to flee the Senate chamber and retreat to a secure location,” The Associated Press reported at 7:05 p.m. eastern Monday evening.

A senior administration official, who spoke to AP reporter Jill Colvin, on the condition of anonymity, said the two had a “good conversation,” discussing the week ahead and “reflecting” on the administration’s accomplishments over the last four years.

The White House official said that during the meeting, Trump and Pence agreed that “those who broke the law and stormed the Capitol last week do not represent the America First movement backed by 75 million Americans” and pledged to continue working on behalf of the country for the remainder of their term.

The official did not give the AP reporter any insights into Trump’s “lingering anger over Pence’s refusal” to accede to his request to send the election results back to the States, the report noted.

Nor did the person discuss “whether Pence confronted Trump for using him as a scapegoat and tweeting that he lacked courage while the siege was underway.”

Reuters is reporting that “a source familiar with the situation said Trump had not reached out to Pence to check on his safety on Wednesday when he was evacuated after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in the middle of the certification process.”

A former White House official with close ties to Pence told CBS News that the vice president is “discouraged, disheartened, hurt and stunned” by Trump’s actions and hostility.

The source told CBS News that “Pence never seriously considered using the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office” and noted that “during conversations earlier in the administration, White House lawyers researched its applicability and found it really covered incapacity, due to things like a serious injury or undergoing anesthesia. Under the 25th Amendment, the Vice President can assume power as acting president if a majority of the Cabinet determines the president is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’”

Last week, Sen. Jim Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican – a close and long-time friend of the VP - told his hometown newspaper, The Tulsa World, that he had never seen Pence as “angry” as he had when Trump tried to pressure him to decertify the results of the presidential election.

“I’ve known Mike Pence forever,” Inhofe said. “I’ve never seen Pence as angry as he was today.”

“I had a long conversation with him,” said Inhofe. “He said, ‘After all the things I’ve done for (Trump).’”

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, has defended Pence’s conduct in the confrontation with Trump.

"Vice President Pence was a profile in courage,” Gingrich tweeted last Thursday. “He understood that his oath was to the Constitution not to a party, policy, or person. He did what he believed was right and he did so under enormous pressure. Whether you agreed with his actions his courage deserves credit.”

Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.

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