Well over 24 hours after armed rioters stormed the Capitol, President Donald Trump on Thursday condemned the violence and lawlessness that overtook the Hill and promised an orderly transition to the next administration.
“Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem,” Trump said in a video statement he released via Twitter on Thursday evening. “America is and must always be a nation of law and order. The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy. To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay.”
The statement was a stark contrast to the lighthearted messages he sent out shortly after the rioters broke into the Capitol and drove the complex into lockdown. Though he told the rioters at the time to be peaceful, Trump also said, “We love you,” and called the participants “special.” He also wrote in a since-removed tweet: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away.”
Numerous social media platforms removed his posts and disabled his accounts for further inciting violence. Trump’s Thursday evening statement was his first post since Twitter lifted a 12-hour freeze on his account.
The statement was also Trump’s first on-camera acknowledgment that President-elect Joe Biden would take over the White House later this month. Trump tried to justify his monthslong challenge of the election results as an effort to “ensure the integrity of the vote,” even though elections officials across the country denied there was any reason for serious concern. Trump said he would focus the remainder of his time in office on ensuring a smooth transition of power.
“Serving as your president has been the honor of my lifetime,” Trump said. “And to all of my wonderful supporters, I know you are disappointed. But I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning.”
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