Under heavy pressure from his advisers, President Trump released a five-minute video on Wednesday, recorded in the Oval Office, condemning last week's mafia violence in the Capitol and urging his supporters to refrain from further riots next week .
The video was made public hours after Mr. Trump was impeached for the second time and was the result, advisers said, of Mr. Trump's realization of the catastrophic consequences of the deadly riot, which also left lawmakers fearing for their lives in the seat. of the Americans. democracy.
The video was released on a White House Twitter account.
Mr. Trump made no mention of humility, regret or self-reflection over his two-month false claims that the election was stolen from him. But it was also a broader condemnation of the violence than he has offered so far.
A week ago, hours after the calamity began, Mr. Trump said to his rebel supporters, “We love you. You are very special. "
Mr Trump's aides have warned him that he may be legally exposed to the riot perpetrated by his supporters immediately following a speech in which the president urged them to "fight" the results of the elections. The House accused him of "inciting violence against the United States government" and charged him with a single article.
Several officials urged him to record the video, with Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and adviser, enlisting assistants and even Vice President Mike Pence to tell him this was the right thing to do. After it was recorded and posted, Mr Trump still needed to be reassured that it was the right choice, officials said.
The release of the video, which was shot after the House impeachment vote, came after the president's company, the Trump Organization, faced canceled contracts in New York, and after Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican majority leader, had told his allies he was satisfied by the impeachment efforts of the Democrats and publicly announced that he was considering voting to condemn the president in a senate process.
"As I said, the US Capitol raid hit the heart of our republic," Trump said. "It angered and upset millions of Americans across the political spectrum."
"I want to be very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence we saw last week," Trump said. “Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country. And no place in our movement. Making America great again has always been about defending the rule of law ”and supporting law enforcement officials.
“Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and what our movement stands for. No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence, ”he said.
“If you do any of these things, you are not supporting our movement. You attack it and you attack our country, ”said Mr Trump. "We cannot tolerate it."
But Mr. Trump mentioned the name of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. no, he did not admit the election and he did not speak of Mr Biden's inauguration, which will take place next week under extraordinary security because of the threats inspired by the uprising in the Capitol. He also did not mention the impeachment vote.
However, he used the video to denounce the so-called restrictions on freedom of speech, not only referring to social media platforms that banned him, but also referring to the argument that members of the Republican House were making to argue against his accusation. .
The assistants most involved with the language of the video were White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone; his deputy, Pat Philbin; and Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump's chief speech writer.
Fallout from Capitol Riot
During the day, Mr. Trump reviewed the impeachment debate in the House at various points and told advisers that he was furious and blinded by Mr. McConnell. Still, his deeper anger was at the house's minority leader Kevin McCarthy of California for publicly condemning him, people close to him said.
His relationship with his personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who encouraged the president to believe conspiracy theories about widespread electoral fraud, has been weakened, an adviser said. The president was offended by Mr. Giuliani's request for $ 20,000 a day to represent him in the election campaign, which Mr. Giuliani denied but was put in writing, and told aides not to pay him at all, an adviser said. Mr. Trump. affirmative a report from The Washington Post.
White House officials have begun to block Mr. Giuliani's calls to the president, another adviser said.
While votes were being cast for the impeachment, the president awarded medals to artists such as Toby Keith and Kay Coles James, the president of the Heritage Foundation, an official said. He was happy that the Republican dropouts were less than some of his aides expected.
The president did not rage behind closed doors, according to officials, although he has so far refused to agree to a plan that would devote a series of days this week to the work of his last four years.
On Air Force One on Tuesday, during a trip to the southern border at Alamo, Texas, the president said repeatedly of the elections for people traveling with him, "I won."
Some advisers discussed the possibility that Mr. Trump would step down a few days earlier, in part because it would give him the opportunity to return to work in 2024 and perhaps avoid the risk of being condemned and banned from a Senate by the Senate. future office.
But the president was dismissive of any suggestion to leave the presidency early, telling White House aides that President Richard M. Nixon, whose influence in the party ended when he resigned, had little to show for it.
Advisers said Mr. Trump should be discouraged from going to the House of Representatives to try to defend himself during Wednesday's impeachment proceedings, something he wanted to do during his first impeachment in December 2019, advisers said.
Mr. Trump has never been more isolated than this week. The White House is sparsely staffed, say people who went to work there on Wednesday. Those who did get to work tried to avoid the Oval Office.
More and more staff have quit, and the White House Council Office is not preparing to defend him in the Senate process. His political adviser, Jason Miller, posted on Twitter a poll by one of the campaign's pollsters, John McLaughlin, which was intended to show the president's hold on the party's voters as House Republicans discussed their vote.
Plans to move Mr. Trump to another platform online after being permanently suspended by Twitter have been halted. One option was the platform Gab, which has been a host to extremists and QAnon conspiracy followers. Gab was favored by Mr. Trump's adviser, Johnny McEntee, but blocked by Mr. Kushner, according to people familiar with the discussions, which were previously reported by Bloomberg News.
Mr. Giuliani is also facing charges for his involvement in inciting the mob that attacked the Capitol. A group of former assistant U.S. attorneys who worked with Mr. Giuliani while serving as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan sent him a letter on Wednesday expressing dismay at his conduct at the pre-siege of the Capitol.
The group said Mr Giuliani's comments urging Trump supporters to participate in "trial by combat" to stop the certification of election results contributed to the loss of life and damage to the country.
"It was shocking and totally disheartening to see one of our former colleagues engaged in that behavior," the former prosecutors said in the letter, which was signed by many Giuliani colleagues, including Kenneth. Feinberg, Ira Lee Sorkin, Elliot Sagor and Richard Ben. -Veniste.
“We unequivocally reject and reject what you said: it is utterly destructive to everything we value,” they wrote, urging him to do what Mr. Trump did in the video, explicitly calling on the president's supporters to "resign".
"It is important that you do this right now, not only because it would be the right choice," they continued, "but also to reduce the risk of more violence and minimize further damage to our democratic institutions and our democracy. "