In his first public appearance since making statements last week that sent a mob of his own supporters rampaging through the U.S. Capitol building in an effort to disrupt the certification of the presidential election in which he lost, President Donald Trump refused to accept any responsibility whatsoever for the violence that occurred that day.
Trump, who was questioned by reporters at the White House as he was leaving for an event in Texas, was asked specifically what role he believed he played in charging up his supporters to storm the Capitol. The president did not answer the question in a direct manner, instead explaining that he believed his words were acceptable.
“If you read my speech, and many people have done it, and I’ve seen it both in the papers, in the media, on television, it’s been analyzed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate,” Trump told reporters.
“Everybody, to the T, thought it was totally appropriate,” he added for emphasis.
Trump further described efforts to impeach or remove him as “a really terrible thing.” He added, however, that he wanted “no violence” as a result of what was happening.
In actuality, most Americans do not believe what Trump said last week was “appropriate.”
Speaking to his loyalists just outside the White House on Wednesday, January 6, Trump had continued to peddle the false notion that he had actually won the election, wrongly stating that it was “stolen” from him “by emboldened radical left Democrats” and by “the fake news media.”
“We will never give up. We will never concede, it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved,” Trump said in his remarks.
The president then encouraged those in the crowd to go to the Capitol to voice their disdain in person to members of Congress, who were meeting that day to certify the results of the Electoral College, which President-elect Joe Biden had won. Before they departed, Trump told his loyalists that they would “never take back our country with weakness.”
Immediately after those words, his supporters from the rally stormed the Capitol, overcoming a small police presence and barricades that were set up outside, forcing the building and its occupants into lockdown.
Trump’s claims that “everybody” thought his words were not a factor in the crowd’s actions or were “appropriate” are blatantly false. Many, including a few members of his own political party, have blasted Trump for his incendiary rhetoric, and polling has shown that Americans overall do not approve of his words, either.
As noted in previous reporting from Truthout last week, 50 percent of respondents in a YouGov Direct poll (conducted on the same day as the Capitol breach took place) said they wanted Trump removed from office as a result of his instigating his supporters. Two-thirds of respondents in the poll also said that Trump bore a great deal or at least some of the blame for what happened at the Capitol, contradicting his statements made on Tuesday.
More recent polling seems to confirm those feelings. A Quinnipiac University poll, conducted from January 7 to 10, found that 53 percent of Americans want Trump to resign from office immediately. If he doesn’t do so, 52 percent in the poll said that he should be removed from the presidency, even though his presidency ends next week. The poll also found that 56 percent of Americans hold Trump responsible for what took place at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Democrats are prepared to issue articles of impeachment against Trump later this week, but will first call on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which would remove Trump from power, before they do so. Pence, whom Trump also criticized during his speech to supporters last week, was targeted by Trump’s loyalists, many of whom engaged in chants calling for him to be hanged while they breached the Capitol building.