Unapologetic Trump warns his impeachment could lead to more violence
ALAMO, Jan 13: President Donald Trump emerged Tuesday from six days out of public view defiant and unapologetic about his incitement of last week's mob attack on the Capitol and warned that his impeachment could lead to more violence.
The president denied any culpability in the violent riot that killed two police officers and threatened the lives of Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress. He said his remarks encouraging throngs of supporters last Wednesday to march to the Capitol in a show of force to pressure and intimidate lawmakers to overturn the election results were "totally appropriate."
During a visit to a portion of newly constructed border wall here in the Rio Grande Valley, Trump warned against the effort by congressional Democrats to hold him accountable.
"The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country and is causing tremendous anger and division and pain, far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the U.S.A., especially at this very tender time," Trump said.
Trump for the first time addressed the calls from Democrats and even some Republicans for Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove him from office before his term expires. "The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration," Trump said. "As the expression goes, 'Be careful what you wish for.' "
Washington is seeing a heightened police and military presence in and around the city, and law enforcement authorities are bracing for future violence in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.
Trump at first hesitated to tell his supporters to stand down when they stormed the Capitol, captivated by the spectacle playing out on live television and entranced by the notion that the rioters were fighting for him, people with knowledge of the events said. And when he issued a video last Wednesday afternoon telling them to "go home," he also declared his support for them by saying, "We love you."
Trump changed his tune here in Texas on Tuesday. Reading from a prepared script, the president seemed to instruct his supporters not to rise up in violence. "Now is the time for our nation to heal. And it's time for peace and for calm. Respect for law enforcement is the foundation of the MAGA agenda," he said, referring to his "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump deflected a reporter's question about his "personal responsibility" in the Capitol attack as he boarded Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews for the flight to Texas. "People thought what I said was totally appropriate," Trump said, claiming he had seen this view reflected across the media. In fact, he has been almost universally condemned for his remarks, including by many of his Republican allies.
Trump then drew a comparison to racial justice demonstrations last summer and suggested other political leaders were more culpable for violence related to those events than he was for what happened at the Capitol last week.
"If you look at what other people have said - politicians at a high level - about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle, in various other places. That was a real problem, what they said," Trump said. "But they've analyzed my speech and words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody, to the T, thought it was totally appropriate."
On Capitol Hill, Trump's allies differed with that assessment. A spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he disagreed with Trump that his comments were "totally appropriate." The spokesman added that McCarthy told House members on Monday that the president bore blame.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to comment, and a spokesman for House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., pointed to her previous comments decrying Trump's Jan. 6 remarks at the Ellipse.