WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump issued on Wednesday a second video message to the nation in which he “unequivocally” condemned the violence in the attack by his supporters on the US Capitol last week.
“I want to make it very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week,” Trump said in the video posted to the White House’s YouTube channel, going on to say that “no true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence.”
He called for calm and asked people to help promote peace throughout the country.
“We have seen political violence spiral out of control. We have seen too many riots, too many mobs, too many acts of intimidation and destruction. It must stop,” Trump said. “Whether you are on the right or on the left, a Democrat or a Republican, there is never a justification for violence … no excuses, no exceptions.”
“America is a nation of laws,” the president went on to say. “Those who engaged in the attacks of last week will be brought to justice.”
“Everybody must follow our laws and obey the instructions of law enforcement,” he said.
Trump made no mention in the video of the House of Representatives vote earlier in the afternoon to impeach him for a second time, this time over “incitement of insurrection” in egging on the mob that put the Capitol under siege.
After the attack on the Capitol, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube banned or suspended the president’s accounts, and in the video, he criticized the efforts by social media platforms to quell inflammatory comments, saying that “The efforts to censor, cancel and blacklist our fellow citizens are wrong and they are dangerous. What is needed now is for us to listen to one another, not to silence one another.”
In the Capitol invasion by the enraged Trump-supporting mob, the rioters attacked police, roughed up reporters and put lawmakers in fear for their safety and perhaps even their lives.
Five people lost their lives amid the violence, including one Capitol police officer beaten to death by the rioters and one female demonstrator who was shot to death by police.
Trump said in the video that he was “shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol” and he urged that any demonstrations or protests being planned in the next few days to be “respectful and peaceful.”
Earlier in the afternoon, before the House voted to impeach him for the second time, Trump had asked his followers not to resort to “violence” or break the law in the coming days, after multiple reports have pointed to new armed gatherings being planned before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind,” Trump said in a brief statement released by the White House.
“That is not what I stand for and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You,” he added.
The president’s brief statement came as the House of Representatives was preparing to impeach him for “inciting” insurrection among his followers last week, after which they marched on and invaded the US Capitol building.
Trump has sent contradictory messages regarding the assault by his followers on the Capitol. During the attack he described the rioters as “very special people,” but later he tried to distance himself from them and their actions, condemning the violence they had perpetrated and in which five people, including a Capitol police officer, died.
On Tuesday, Trump refused to take any responsibility for the attack and said that the “speech” he delivered to his angry supporters at the White House was “totally appropriate,” urging them to head for Congress to prevent lawmakers there from certifying Biden’s Nov. 3 presidential election victory.
The president’s new message comes two days after the FBI warned that radical followers of Trump are planning “armed protests” in all 50 states between Jan. 16-20, when Biden will be inaugurated.
The extremist groups, who after the closure of thousands of their Twitter accounts and the blockading of the conservative social network Parler have begun coordinating their activities in encrypted messaging apps like Telegram, have also threatened to make a new assault on the Capitol or the state congress buildings.
Despite Trump’s call to avoid violence, some analysts believe that the president has egged on his supporters even more with his remarks Tuesday that the impeachment being prepared in Congress is creating much “anger” across the country, although he did not say specifically who was angry.
Last week’s violence has led authorities to strengthen security in Washington to the max, and it is expected that before the inauguration more than 20,000 members of the National Guard will be activated, with some such troops already having been deployed to protect the Capitol for the past few days.