Shortly after President Donald Trump became the first president in American history to get impeached twice, the president released a powerful statement condemning the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol last week and urging calm amid political violence. While Trump did not mention the impeachment effort — which accuses him of inciting “insurrection” — he explicitly disavowed the rioters who attacked the Capitol and condemned Big Tech’s censorship onslaught.
“As I have said, the incursion of the U.S. Capitol struck at the very heart of our republic. It angered and appalled millions of Americans across the political spectrum. I want to be very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week,” the president declared. “Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the capitol last week.”
He drew a powerful contrast between the assault on the Capitol and his political movement.
“Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and absolutely no place in our movement. Making America Great Again has always been about defending the rule of law, supporting the men and women of law enforcement, and upholding our nation’s most sacred traditions and values,” Trump said. “Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for.”
“No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence,” the president declared. “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. If you do any of these things, you are not supporting our movement, you’re attacking it, and you’re attacking our country, and we cannot tolerate it.”
Trump loudly condemned the rising trend of political violence on both the Left and the Right.
“Tragically, over the course of the past year, made so difficult because of COVID-19, 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,” he declared. “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. Those who engaged in the attacks last week will be brought to justice.”
Trump asked his supporters to “be thinking of ways to ease tensions, calm tempers, and help to promote peace in our country.” He addressed the reports of protests and chatter of violence planned in the lead-up to January 20 and mentioned that Secret Service briefed him on “potential threats.”
Trump insisted that “every American deserves to have their voice heard in a respectful and peaceful way, but he declared that “there must be no violence, no lawbreaking, and no vandalism of any kind. Everyone must follow our laws and obey the instructions of law enforcement. I have directed federal agencies to use all necessary resources to maintain order.”
He announced that the National Guard is bringing in troops to keep order in Washington, D.C.
Trump also addressed “the unprecedented assault on free speech we have seen in recent days.” After the Capitol riot, Big Tech companies crossed a Rubicon, with Facebook and Twitter booting Trump himself; Apple, Google, and Amazon moving against conservative alternative Parler; and restrictions on conservative accounts and bans on pro-Trump slogans.
“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. All of us can choose by our actions to rise above the rancor and find common ground and shared purpose,” Trump argued.
He urged Americans to “focus on advancing the interests of the whole nation,” from fighting COVID-19 to reviving the economy.
“Today, I am calling on all Americans to overcome the passions of the moment and join together as one American people. Let us choose to move forward united for the good of our families, our communities, and our country,” Trump concluded.
The president’s message struck the perfect tone of anguished condemnation, the exact response he should have issued as the attack took place. Instead, he arguably coddled the lawless attackers. While he told his supporters to “go home now,” he also said, “We love you, you’re very special.” In a follow-up tweet, the president wrote, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
Trump’s statement one week after the riots rightly reversed these earlier remarks, but it cannot erase them.
Democrats are wrong to accuse Trump of “inciting an insurrection” in regards to the attack on the Capitol, and this statement will help the president defend himself against that charge.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 13, 2021
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.