A week after his supporters stormed Capitol Hill in a deadly riot and hours after his second impeachment in the House of Representatives, President Donald Trump on Wednesday pronounced his strongest condemnation to date of the January 6 violence.
“I want to be very clear. I clearly condemn the violence we saw last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement,” Trump said in a video posted on White’s official Twitter House was posted account.
Trump took no responsibility for the attacks.
The five-minute video in which Trump appears to be speaking from the Oval Office’s Resolute Desk came as the President faces an impending Senate trial.
Democrats have pushed for Trump’s immediate impeachment, arguing that his presence in power poses a “clear and present threat” to the nation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said he was undecided how to vote in the process.
Trump’s message also comes as federal agencies and the District of Columbia Attorney General haven’t ruled out Trump being prosecuted for inciting the crowd of his supporters who have invaded the Capitol.
The president’s own Twitter account had been permanently banned days earlier in response to his initial reactions to this invasion.
As his supporters flocked to the Capitol and derailed a joint congressional session shortly after the process of confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory began, Trump tweeted an attack on Vice President Mike Pence, who was leading the event.
Trump had pressured Pence to try to reverse the election results and put additional pressure on Pence during a rally in front of thousands of his supporters outside the White House just before Congress convened to validate the electoral college’s votes. Many of these supporters went straight to the Capitol after the president’s speech.
On the same day, Trump, in a video posted on social media, urged his followers to “go home” while re-launching the false conspiracy theory that his election had been stolen.
“So go home. We love you. You are very special. You saw what happened. You see how others are treated who are so bad and so angry,” Trump said in this video.
Five people, including a US Capitol police officer, died as a result of the siege of the building. Lawmakers and others, including Pence, were forced to vacate their respective chambers and hide from the crowd for hours as rioters demolished offices, stole property, and clashed with law enforcement agencies.
The Justice Department has charged more than 70 people in the riot and opened more than 170 investigations. Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said more arrests are coming.
Democrats moved at unprecedented speed to draft an impeachment article against Trump for inciting a riot. On Wednesday afternoon, the article was passed by 232 to 197 votes, with 10 Republicans voting against Trump.
Trump had only defended his statements at the rally before the uprising on Tuesday.
“People thought what I was saying was perfectly fair,” Trump claimed, although many of his own supporters in Congress, including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Said the president was responsible for the mob .
Trump in his recent remarks made no mention of his rally last Wednesday in which he turned his supporters on the Capitol after making a series of false and misleading allegations about election fraud. Nor did he mention his last impeachment, which came less than a week before Biden’s inauguration.
But he said there should be no political violence or vandalism and that “those who participated in the attacks last week will be brought to justice”.
“No true follower of mine could ever advocate political violence. No true follower of mine could ever disregard law enforcement or our great American flag. No true follower of mine could ever threaten or harass their fellow Americans,” Trump said in the video.
Media such as the Washington Post reported that Trump was difficult to contact during the crisis in the Capitol, also because he was watching the chaos live on television.
The president, a heavy social media user whose online presence was largely wiped out after the uprising, also condemned “the unprecedented attack on freedom of expression we have seen in recent days”.
“These are tense and difficult times. Efforts to censor, cancel, and blacklist our fellow citizens are wrong,” he said. “What we need now is that we listen to one another and not silence one another.”
Trump has acknowledged that Biden’s administration will soon take over, but he has not yet officially conceded the race to the Democrat.
Officials have raised concerns that before Biden’s inauguration, there could be more mob violence in Washington and other state capitals. The National Guard was stationed in the Capitol and produced stunning images of groups of uniformed service members resting in hallways and against pillars in the heart of the US government.