The US Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden's election win despite the mob that stormed the Capitol, but another task loomed immediately afterwards on Thursday.
Leaders in Washington DC must now decide how to act in response to President Donald Trump's efforts to incite the violent unrest of rioters who invaded the offices and chambers of representatives counting Electoral College votes.
Two of the possible routes in debate were impeaching President Trump in his remaining 11 days in power, or removing him from office by invoking the 25th amendment of the US constitution.
The choice will not only influence how Trump ends his presidency, but could decide whether the US descends into further division and violence, or draws a line beneath one of its darkest periods.
As Americans begin to make sense of the chaotic scenes that unfolded on January 6 - a day described as one of infamy for the US - their representatives are weighing up historic decisions with little precedent to guide them.
Having resisted President Trump's demands to block Joe Biden's election victory, Vice President Mike Pence was under pressure from other quarters on Thursday. House speaker Nancy Pelosi urged him to use the 25th amendment to remove Trump as president.
It's an obscure part of the US political system, unless you're a fan of the television series The West Wing or 24, where it features in seemingly outlandish storylines of the shows.
In short, the 25th amendment provides the procedures for replacing the president or vice president in the event of death, removal, resignation, or incapacitation.
Ratified after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, it was used in the 1970s when Gerald Ford replaced Spiro Agnew as vice president, then when Ford replaced Richard Nixon as president, and later as Nelson Rockefeller became vice president.
Under the amendment, the vice president and a majority of cabinet can declare the president unable to discharge his or her powers and duties. The vice president would become acting president.
The Republican party is going through a lot of soul searching now. With notable exceptions, they drank the Trump Kool-Aid for four years- Professor Wesley Widmaier
Those pressing Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th amendment say President Trump's role in the insurrection proved him unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Cabinet secretaries have reportedly informally discussed the option, but the Vice President is said to oppose it.
Head of the Department of International Relations at the Australian National University, Wesley Widmaier, doesn't believe leaders in Washington, D.C. will remove Trump from office using the amendment.
"The 25th amendment is just not going to happen because the prime mover of it, Mike Pence, has said it's not," he said.
"Mike Pence wants a future in Republican politics and having certified Biden's election, he has to do everything he can to get back in the good graces of the Republican party base."
Cabinet official and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also not support it, being a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024, Professor Widmaier said.
Trump became the third US president in history to be impeached, when the Democrat-majority House of Representatives in 2019 charged him over allegations he improperly sought help from Ukraine to boost his re-election chances.
President Andrew Johnson came close to being removed from office after he was impeached in 1868. Bill Clinton remained in power despite his impeachment in 1998, having been acquitted.
Facing impeachment after Watergate, President Richard Nixon resigned before he was charged.
Impeachment is the means by which Congress can remove a president for high crimes and misdemeanours.
A majority vote in the House of Representatives is needed to impeach an official of the federal government. Following a trial, a two-thirds vote of the Senate is required to convict, the penalty being removal from office.
Put simply, the House indicts, and the Senate tries. In Trump's 2019 impeachment, the result in each chamber was determined largely along party lines.
Professor Widmaier said if House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi pursued impeachment and it was put to a vote, the result in the Democrat-majority chamber would be a foregone conclusion.
How Republicans acted on the question of impeachment could influence the future direction of the party, he said.
"The Republican party is going through a lot of soul searching now. With notable exceptions, they drank the Trump Kool-Aid for four years," Professor Widmaier said.
"A number of Republicans for reasons of self-interest and principle could be thinking 'who are we and what do we stand for?'.
"If some Republicans were peeled off to vote to impeach Trump, I think that could have implications for the Republican party's identity. I don't know how many would, but it would be a repudiation of this fever dream that the Republican party is in."
There are risks in impeaching President Trump. Research associate at the United States Studies Centre, Elliott Brennan, said leaders weighing responses to Trump's actions would need to consider how much more damaging the situation could become in coming days.
"That provocative action of impeaching the president who more or less has inspired these events, could that denigrate the security scenario even more so?," Mr Brennan said.
"I think those are the sorts of questions that will be racing through the minds of Republicans at the moment."
Former Australian ambassador to the US John McCarthy said impeachment would be damaging and probably unnecessary.
"What I would like to see is Pence and [Senate majority leader] Mitch McConnell taking the lead in making announcements for the Republicans for the government that is still effectively in power, and a preparedness to basically regard what Trump is saying as the ravings of a lunatic which should be dismissed."
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