April 16, 2021

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Trump condemns Capitol violence a week after riot, as he faces second impeachment trial – CNBC

4 min read
One week after his supporters stormed Capitol Hill in a deadly riot, and hours after his second impeachment in the House, President Donald Trump on Wednesday delivered his clearest condemnation yet of the Jan. 6 violence.

“I want to be very clear. I unequivocally condemn the violence that 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 by the White House’s official Twitter account.

Trump took no responsibility for the attacks.

The five-minute video, which appears to show Trump speaking from the Resolute Desk of the Oval Office, arrived as the president faces an upcoming trial in the Senate.

Democrats have pushed for Trump’s immediate removal from office, arguing that his presence in power poses a “clear and present danger” to the nation. Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he is undecided on how he will vote in that trial.

Trump’s message also comes as federal authorities and the attorney general of the District of Columbia have not ruled out prosecuting Trump for inciting the mob of his supporters who invaded the Capitol.

The president’s own account had been permanently suspended by Twitter days earlier in response to his initial reactions to that invasion.

As his supporters streamed into the Capitol, derailing a joint session of Congress shortly after it began the process of confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Trump tweeted an attack on Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the event.

Trump had pressured Pence to try to overturn the election results, and heaped additional pressure on his veep during a rally before thousands of his supporters outside the White House just before Congress convened to confirm the Electoral College votes. Many of those supporters walked directly to the Capitol following the president’s speech.

That same day, in a video posted to social media, Trump urged his followers to “go home” while once again spreading the false conspiracy that the election had been stolen from him.

“So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil,” Trump said in that video.

Five people, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, died as a result of the siege of the building. lawmakers and others, including Pence, were forced to evacuate their respective chambers and hide from the mob for hours as rioters trashed offices, stole property and clashed with law enforcement.

The Justice Department has charged more than 70 people involved in riots and has opened more than 170 investigations. Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said more arrests are coming.

Democrats moved with unprecedented speed to draft an article of impeachment against Trump for inciting an insurrection. On Wednesday afternoon, the article passed in a 232-197 vote, with 10 Republicans voting to impeach Trump.

Trump as recently as Tuesday had defended his remarks at the pre-riot rally.

“People thought what I said was totally appropriate,” Trump claimed, even though many of his own supporters in Congress, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have said the president bears responsibility for the mob.

Trump in his latest remarks did not mention his rally last Wednesday, where he directed his supporters toward the Capitol after asserting a variety of false and misleading claims about election fraud. He also did not mention his latest impeachment, which came less than a week before Biden is set to be inaugurated.

But he did reject all forms of political violence and vandalism, and said that “those who engaged in the attacks last week will be brought to justice.”

“No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence, no true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag. No true supporter of mine could ever threaten or harass their fellow Americans,” Trump said in the video.

Media outlets including The Washington Post reported that Trump had been difficult to reach during the crisis at the Capitol, in part because he was watching the chaos unfold live on television.

The president, a heavy user of social media whose online presence has been largely wiped out in the wake of the riot, also decried “the unprecedented assault on free speech we have seen in recent days.”

“These are tense, and difficult times, the efforts to censor cancel and blacklist our fellow citizens are wrong,” he said. “What is needed now is for us to listen to one another, not to silence one another.”

Trump has acknowledged that Biden’s administration will soon take charge, but he has still not formally conceded the race to the Democrat.

Officials have expressed concerns that more mob violence in Washington and other state capitols could be coming between now and Biden’s inauguration. The National Guard was deployed to the Capitol, producing striking images of groups of uniformed service members resting in hallways and on columns in the heart of U.S. government.

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