In the aftermath of Wednesday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters during the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral vote victory, Republicans remain divided.

Sometime early Thursday morning, Republican Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the joint session of Congress that certified Biden’s win, changed his Twitter background to a photo of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris waving to a crowd of supporters.

A screenshot of Vice President Mike Pence’s Twitter profile on Thursday morning shows a photo of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. | Jeff Parrott, Deseret News

Trump loyalists on Twitter compared Pence to the biblical Judas — who betrayed Jesus.

White House staffers resign

A cabinet member and a handful of White House staffers had resigned by Thursday from top posts in the Trump administration because of the president’s handling of the violent riots in Washington.

  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced her resignation Thursday, saying in a statement that Wednesday’s events had “deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”
  • Former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney stepped down from his current role of U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland, according to CNBC.

“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,” Mulvaney told the network. “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.”

“We didn’t sign up for what you saw last night,” he added during the Thursday interview. “We signed up for making America great again, we signed up for lower taxes and less regulation. The president has a long list of successes that we can be proud of.”

  • Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger resigned, citing Trump’s “reaction to the mob of his supporters breaching the U.S. Capitol,” CNN reported.
  • Ryan Tully, the White House’s National Security Counsel’s senior director for European and Russian affairs, also left his post over the administration’s handling of the protest, according to Politico.
  • Stephanie Grisham, a longtime aide to first lady Melania Trump, confirmed to The Hill she, too, had resigned. CNN reported that Grisham stepped down “in the wake of the violent protests.”
  • Anna Cristina “Rickie” Niceta, resigned from her post as White House social secretary Wednesday, “effective immediately,” according to CNN.
  • National security adviser Robert O’Brien and White House deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell were also considering leaving the administration, Politico reported.

Republicans react

“You have some senators, who for a political advantage, were giving false hope to their supporters — misleading them into thinking that somehow yesterday’s action in Congress could reverse the results of the election,” Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton said on Fox News Thursday morning, “or even get some kind of emergency audit of the election results. That was never going to happen.”

“Yet these senators, as insurrectionists literally stormed the Capitol, were literally sending out fundraising emails,” Cotton added. “That shouldn’t have happened and it’s got to stop now.”

Republican presidential primary contender Bill Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts, called on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which provides a process for the removal of the president if they become unable to perform their duties.

“Yesterday morning, the President of the United States stood in front of a thousands-strong mob — in Washington, D.C. at his invitation and urging — and told them, again, that the election been stolen, that they march to the U.S. Capitol, and that they should fight for him,” Weld said in a statement. The Republican went on to encourage Pence to “deliver that letter invoking the 25th Amendment.”

Sen. Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Wednesday’s events a “failed insurrection.”

“We’ve never been deterred before, and will be not deterred today,” he said. “They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed. ... Now we’re going to finish exactly what we started.”

Some Republicans House members blamed the breach of the Capitol complex on liberals.

Republican Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama said on Twitter Thursday morning that there was evidence that “fascist ANTIFA orchestrated the Capitol attack,” reiterating a claim by Trump loyalists that Wednesday’s riot was a “false flag” operation meant to blame supporters of the president.

At a Trump rally in Washington ahead of the riot, Brooks told Trump supporters to start “taking down names and kicking ass,” Alabama’s News 19 reported. After the rally, members of the crowd overran Capitol Police.

On the House floor Wednesday night, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz said there was evidence that “some of the people that breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters, they were masquerading as Trump supporters,” but were members of Antifa.