Donald Trump today denied all responsibility for last week’s riot on Capitol Hill, saying his fiery speech to his supporters before they marched on the Capitol was ‘totally appropriate.’
In his first public remarks since Wednesday’s MAGA storming of the Capitol, Trump slammed Democrats, accusing them of creating ‘tremendous danger’ with their attempt to remove him from office but said repeatedly he wanted ‘no violence.’
Trump defended his speech at a rally on ellipse, where he encouraged his thousands of supporters to ‘march’ on the Capitol.
They did so, leaving five dead and a path of destruction in their wake in the form of busted windows, broken furniture and destroyed office space.
Dozens have now been rounded up by police and FBI.
‘If you read my speech – and many people have done it and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television, it is been analyzed – and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate,’ he said as he boarded Air Force One to head for Alamo, Texas, on the Mexican border, to inspect his wall.
‘They’ve analyzed my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence and everybody to a tee thought it was totally appropriate,’ he continued.
He offered no indication of who ‘they’ are.
Trump also denounced the Democrats’ efforts to remove him from office, which has been joined by some Republicans, to remove him from office – and called it a ‘danger,’ not his supporters’ actions.
But, he said he wanted no violence from his supporters. Trump reportedly had initially enjoyed the sight of his supporters on Capitol Hill last week, fighting for him to illegally take a second term in the White House.
He changed his tune and called on them to stand down when he warned he could be held legally responsible for their actions.
‘We want no violence, never violence. We want absolutely no violence,’ he said repeatedly Tuesday before he left for Texas to tout the completion of a section of his border wall.
‘And on the impeachment, it’s really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger,’ he said.
He denounced Democratic leaders but made no mention of the Republicans who have called on him to leave office.
‘It’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path. I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger, I want no violence,’ he said.
The House is voting on legislation calling on Vice President Mike Pence to start the process to remove Trump via the 25th amendment.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi set an ultimatum Monday that if Trump does not resign or Pence does not invoke the 25th Amendment, the House will move forward with impeaching the president for a second time.
Pence’s advisers say he is opposed to this measure, indicating he will likely not move forward with meeting pressures from congressional Democrats in Trump’s final eight days.
The House could vote as early as Wednesday at 9 a.m. on articles of impeachment.
Republicans are not doing a ‘whip count’ – meaning leadership will not be arm twisting their members to support Trump.
Instead top GOP officials said lawmakers should vote their conscious.
Pelosi told ’60 Minutes’ in an interview that aired Sunday that she prefers the 25th Amendment because that forces immediate removal, while impeachment wouldn’t be resolved before Trump’s term is up.
She fears Trump could use his final days to do more damage – like pardoning the mob who stormed the Capitol.
The Senate is in recess, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they would not reconvene earlier than January 19 to receive articles from the House.
This means even if the lower chamber did elevate impeachment, action wouldn’t be taken on the measure until the day before Joe Biden’s inauguration at the earliest.
Trump’s refusal to accept responsibility for Wednesday is likely to only anger further Democrats, but it is the Republican House and Senate caucus’ reactions which will set his fate.
Some Republicans have already called for him to go but none has so far publicly backed impeachment.
Lindsey Graham, who claimed he was ‘done’ with the president last week, appeared to have had a dramatic change of heart and was traveling with him on Air Force One.
But others have privately said they need to see Trump take some responsibility, meaning his refusal could drive them into the Democrats’ camp on impeachment.
Republicans are emerging from Trump’s presidency deeply divided and the impeachment vote could scar the party even more.
Trump’s allies, including his son Donald Trump Jr., are threatening to primary any Republican who does not support the president.
Meanwhile, a group of former administration officials and anti-Trump Republicans – calling themselves the the Republican Accountability Project – said they would make a $50 million commitment to support GOP lawmakers who voted for Trump’s impeachment, The New York Times reported.
Trump also road-tested a defense for his impeachment in his remarks on Tuesday.
At the end of Trump’s remarks, he appeared to reference guidance he has received from attorneys and aides about the content of his Wednesday speech – which form the basis for the impeachment article charging him with ‘incitement of insurrection.’
His comment follows reports that White House counsel Pat Cipollone had warned Trump that he faces potential legal exposure for the remarks he made to the crowd that went on to storm the Capitol.
Although Trump did not specifically tell anyone to break a window or trespass, he did tell them to ‘fight,’ that ‘when you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules,’ that ‘we’re going to have to fight much harder,’ and that ‘if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.’
He also spoke as if Vice President Pence could make a difference in the outcome. ‘If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,’ Trump said – meaning overturning the Electoral College results, which Pence said he did not have the power to do.
The final substantive paragraph, which he defended, told his supporters that ‘we’ would march to the Capitol to ‘take back our country.’
‘So we are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue – I love Pennsylvania Avenue – and we are going to the Capitol.,’ he said.
‘And we are going to try and give — the Democrats are hopeless, they are never voting for anything, not even one vote — but we are going to try to give our Republicans — the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help — going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,’ Trump said. ‘So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.’
He in fact returned to the White House.
Trump’s initial response to the MAGA riot was to release a video message where he told his followers he loved them.
‘We love you, you’re very special,’ he said in the short video posted to his Twitter account, which was still active at the time.
And he reiterated his original message, which had helped incite the mob, that the election had been stolen.
‘I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it. Especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace,’ he said.
His message appeared to have no effect on the mob, who was heard yelling for Vice President Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The day after the riots, Trump released a second video message where he acknowledged a ‘new administration’ was coming into the White House but he didn’t congratulate President-elect Joe Biden nor even mention his name.
It is not known which group of lawyers are currently advising Trump on his role before and during the riots.
Lawyer Rudy Giuliani spoke before Trump at the rally, telling participants to engage in ‘trial by combat.’
Lawyer Cleta Mitchell was on the line during Trump’s call to ask a Georgia election official to ‘find’ 11,780 votes, but she resigned from her firm in the aftermath.
Trump broke his public silence after revealing his false belief that ‘ANTIFA people’ were behind Wednesday’s riot in a private call to the most senior Republican in the House – who claimed that the president does accept some blame for the unrest that killed five people.
And he also publicly contradicted Kevin McCarthy, the fiercely loyal House Minority Leader, who told House Republicans on Monday that Trump bears some blame for last week’s deadly Capitol riots and has accepted some responsibility, Politico reported, citing four Republican sources on a private call.
That left McCarthy publicly embarrassed, at a time when his caucus is splitting over what to do about Trump and donors are deserting.
Trump’s abdication of responsibility came amid mounting fears that the violence is not over.
On Monday evening lawmakers were briefed by law enforcement that there were three active plots, including one involving 4,000 ‘armed patriots’ planning to surround Congress.
They had been issued with ‘rules of engagement,’ Conor Lamb (D-PA) told CNN – meaning when they would shoot people.
Trump on Monday declared a state of emergency in D.C. amid ratcheting tensions over violent plots which could rock Capitol Hill ahead of Biden’s inauguration.
The declaration allows the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate with local authorities as Democrats had been demanding.
Last week’s chaos resulted in the deaths of four rioters and one Capitol Police officer from his wounds and the suicide of another; dozens of injuries; and extensive damage throughout the ransacked building.
McCarthy strongly pushed back against Trump’s claim that the rioters were Left-wing agitators intent on discrediting Trump and his followers – a claim made by staunchly pro-Trump congressman Matt Gaetz, and repeated by Fox News’ anchors and pundits.
‘It’s not ANTIFA, it’s MAGA,’ McCarthy replied.
What Trump told supporters before they ransacked the Capitol in ‘totally appropriate’ speech
We’re going to have to fight much harder
‘Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back. It’s like a boxer. And we want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people. And we’re going to have to fight much harder.’
We’re going to walk down to the Capitol
‘We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.
‘Get tougher’ / You are allowed to go by very different rules
‘The Republicans have to get tougher. You’re not going to have a Republican Party if you don’t get tougher. They want to play so straight. They want to play so serious. “The United States, the Constitution doesn’t allow me to send them back to the states.” Well, I would say yes, it does, because the Constitution says you have to protect our country, and you have to protect our Constitution, and you can’t vote on fraud, and fraud breaks up everything, doesn’t it? When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do, and I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he’s listening toWhen you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do, and I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he’s listening to.’
Takes ‘more courage not to step up’
‘I also want to thank our 13 most courageous members of the U.S. Senate … I actually think, though, it takes, again, more courage not to step up, and I think a lot of those people are going to find that out. And you better start looking at your leadership, because your leadership has led you down the tubes.’
‘We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough.’
On ‘fake news’ and ‘Big tech’
‘They rigged an election, they rigged it like they have never rigged an election before.’
‘All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by bold and radical left Democrats, which is what they are doing, and stolen by the fake news media. That is what they have done and what they are doing. We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.’
‘We will not take it anymore’
‘Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about.’ And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal.’
Denied Biden’s vote count
‘He had 80 million computer votes. It’s a disgrace. There’s never been anything like that. You can take Third World countries, just take a look, take Third World countries, their elections are more honest than what we have been going through in this country. It’s a disgrace. It’s a disgrace. Even when you look at last night, they were all running around like chickens with their heads cut off with boxes, and nobody knows what the hell is going on. There’s never been anything like this. We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen.’
[Note: Biden got more than 81 million votes; Trump rounded up his own total to 75 million.]
Call for military and law enforcement to join
‘And I would love to have, if those tens of thousands of people would be allowed, the military, the Secret Service and we want to thank you — and the police and law enforcement — great, you’re doing a great job. But I would love it if they could be allowed to come up with us. Is that possible? Can you just let them, please?’
Pressure on Mike Pence: Says it takes ‘courage’ to do nothing
‘I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election … All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to re-certify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people.’
‘And I actually, I just spoke to Mike. I said, Mike, that doesn’t take courage, what takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage, and then we are stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot, and we have to live with that for four more years. We’re just not going to let that happen.’
Won’t stand for Biden win
‘We want to go back, and we want to get this right, because we’re going to have somebody in there that should not be in there, and our country will be destroyed. And we’re not going to stand for that.’
‘You’re not the people that tore down our nation’
‘If this happened to the Democrats, there’d be hell all over the country going on. There’d be hell all over the country.
But just remember this, you’re stronger, you’re smarter. You’ve got more going than anybody, and
they try and demean everybody having to do with us, and you’re the real people. You’re the people that built this nation. You’re not the people that tore down our nation.’
March peacefully … we will see whether Republicans stand strong
‘I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.
Today, we will see whether Republicans stand strong for the integrity of our elections. But whether or not they stand strong for our country — our country, our country has been under siege for a long time. Far longer than this four-year period’
‘Ashamed … throughout eternity’
‘Today, we see a very important event, though, because right over there, right there, we see the event that’s going to take place, and I’m going to be watching because history is going to be made. We’re going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity. They’ll be ashamed. And you know what? If they do the wrong thing, we should never, ever forget that they did. Never forget.’
Calls Republicans who voted not to count certified votes ‘warriors’
‘I want to thank the more than 140 members of the House. Those are warriors.15
They’re over there working like you’ve never seen before, studying, talking, actually going all the way back studying the roots of the Constitution because they know we have the right to send a bad vote that was illegally gotten.’
Biden will be ‘illegitimate’
‘But think of this: If you don’t do that, that means you will have a president of the United States for four years with his wonderful son, you will have a president who lost all of these states, or you will have a president, to put it another way, who was voted on by a bunch of stupid people who lost all of these states. You will have an illegitimate president. That is what you will have, and we can’t let that happen.’
Call to ‘do something’ about radical left
‘The radical left knows exactly what they were doing. They are ruthless, and it’s time that somebody did something about it.
And Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. (APPLAUSE) And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you. I will tell you right now. I’m not hearing good stories.’
Election was ‘stolen’
‘Make no mistake, this election was stolen from you, from me, and from the country, and not a single swing state has conducted a comprehensive audit to remove the illegal ballots.
This should absolutely occur in every single contested state before the election is certified.’
Alleges ‘criminal enterprise’
‘So, when you hear — when you hear, “While there is no evidence to prove any wrongdoing,” this is the most fraudulent thing anybody’s — this is a criminal enterprise. This is a criminal enterprise.’
Fight like hell
‘And again, most people would stand there at 9 o’clock in the evening and say, “I want to thank you very much,” and they go off to some other life.
But I said something is wrong here, something is really wrong, can’t have happened, and we fight. We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.’