- In a video posted on Twitter, President Donald Trump praised rioters who overtook the US Capitol while asking them to stand down.
- Trump also repeated false claims that there was widespread election fraud.
- “This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people,” Trump said. “We have to have peace.”
- “So go home. We love you; you’re very special,” he added, later saying: “But go home, and go home in peace.”
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President Donald Trump praised his supporters on Wednesday in a video released by the White House after a mob of them violently stormed the US Capitol.
After hours of violence and chaos, Trump told his supporters to “go home” but did not condemn them. Later in the day, went even further in a follow up tweet to depict the siege as inevitable.
He also continued to falsely claim the presidential election was stolen.
“This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people,” Trump said in the video. “We have to have peace. So go home. We love you; you’re very special.”
The president’s statement legitimized his supporters’ anger and perpetuated further baseless claims about the outcome of the presidential election, which Trump lost by a wide margin to President-elect Joe Biden.
“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us,” Trump said. “It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side.”
Twitter quickly took action, adding a label to Trump’s tweet of the video. The social-media company prevented users from engaging with the tweet, citing “a risk of violence.” And it flagged Trump’s claims about election as “disputed.”
— The Recount (@therecount) January 6, 2021
Reactions from mainstream TV hosts and pundits flowed in, with CNN’s Jake Tapper saying the video “pours more fuel on the fire.”
Jake Tapper on Trump's video message kindly asking the coup mob to "go home': "In that video he lies about the election being stolen and pours more fuel on the fire. He continues his shameful behavior of lying to his supporters about what happened. It is absolutely disgraceful." pic.twitter.com/lXYtjaz82Z
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) January 6, 2021
Pro-Trump protesters breached the US Capitol earlier Wednesday afternoon, forcing Congress into a recess after it had convened for a joint session to certify Biden’s 2020 victory. Lawmakers, reporters, and staff were evacuated from the building after mobs gathered outside the House and Senate chamber doors.
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman said sources close to Trump told her they “are certain he wanted this and is enjoying it.”
In the second tweet about the siege later on Wednesday, Trump was even more sympathetic with the rioters.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” the president tweeted.
Trump, who has still not acknowledged his election loss, encouraged his supporters to go to the nation’s capital to protest the electoral process. Shortly before the certification process began at 1 p.m. ET, Trump delivered a speech at the White House in which he repeated baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
About 40 minutes after violence broke out, Trump tweeted that his supporters should “stay peaceful.” In another tweet less than an hour later, he wrote: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order â€” respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
Biden later appeared on national television to condemn the violence and call for an end to the protests, and he urged Trump to do the same. Shortly afterward, Trump posted the video clip on Twitter in which he called the rioters “special.”
“I know how you feel. But go home, and go home in peace,” the president said.