Trump Says His Comments Before Capitol Riot Were 'Totally Appropriate'
Eight days from the end of his presidency, President Trump expressed no regret for his comments last week ahead of a riot and mob violence at the U.S. Capitol that resulted in the deaths of at least five people and multiple injuries.
"People thought that what I said was totally appropriate," Trump said Tuesday when asked about his role in the siege, despite many at the highest levels of government — Republicans and Democrats — saying otherwise, three of his Cabinet members having resigned and a second impeachment effort now underway.
Trump continued by deflecting reporters' questions and shifting focus.
"And 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 and various other places, that was a real problem — what they said," Trump claimed, referring to protests over racial inequality and police brutality.
He went on to say of his own speech that "everybody — to the T — thought it was totally appropriate." He later added, "You have to always avoid violence."
Trump made the comments to reporters on his way to Texas for a visit to one of his signature campaign promises — the border wall.
What Trump — and his son Donald Trump Jr. and his attorney Rudy Giuliani — said last Wednesday at a rally on the Ellipse outside the White House has been roundly criticized by various members of Congress from both political parties, who were in direct danger.
Cabinet secretaries reportedly discussed enacting the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, and past officials, including two former chiefs of staff to the president, have been critical.
Trump put out two videos in response to the violence at the Capitol. The first sympathized with his supporters but told them to "go home."
Another highly scripted one said he was focused on an "orderly and seamless transition of power."
This week, Congress is moving toward a second impeachment of this president. If the effort is successful — and it appears there are enough votes in the House for it to pass — Trump will go down in history as the only president to be impeached twice.
While some Republicans back the effort, not many appear ready to sign on. Some have called on him to resign; others just hope he doesn't cause any other violence with so few days left in his presidency.
But Trump's Twitter account was permanently suspended after he said he would not attend Biden's inauguration. Twitter said that and other comments were being interpreted by various right-wing militia groups as a green light for violence. There have reportedly been other attacks planned for this weekend.
The Capitol complex — and U.S. Supreme Court across the street — will not be as easily accessible this time, however. They are now surrounded with non-scalable, 7-foot-high steel fencing with troops stationed inside the fencing every few hundred feet.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.