Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Jan. 20, 2021

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Amid violence, Trump says, ‘Remember this day forever!’

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump appeared to excuse the violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters Wednesday, hours after they stormed the symbol of American democracy in an effort to disrupt the formalization of his electoral defeat.

Trump, who had encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol to protest lawmakers’ actions, expressed empathy for the mob, which violently forced its way inside, clashed with police and forced lawmakers into hiding.

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Trump wrote in a message that was later deleted by Twitter. He added, “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

In an earlier video he had praised the protesters as “special” people and said he understood their pain. Twitter later locked his account for the first time as it demanded he remove the tweets and threatened “permanent suspension.”

Trump’s response to the violence underscored his obsession with trying to overturn the results of the election. He is spending the final days of his presidency angrily stewing and lashing out at Republicans for perceived disloyalty.

Transcript: Trump sees special people, Biden sees extremists

Transcripts of President Donald Trump's and President-elect Joe Biden's remarks Wednesday after pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Thousands of people descended on the Capitol as Congress began to vote to affirm Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential win.

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TRUMP outdoors, just outside the Oval Office:

I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side.

But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time.

There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us — from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election.

But we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated — that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel, but go home and go home in peace.

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BIDEN before reporters in Wilmington, Delaware:

At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault, unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times, an assault on the Citadel of Liberty, the Capitol itself.

An assault on the people’s representatives and the Capitol Hill police sworn to protect them, and the public servants who work at the heart of our republic. An assault on the rule of law, like few times we’ve ever seen it. An assault on the most sacred of American undertakings, the doing of the people’s business.

Let me be very clear. The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are. What we’re seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition, and it must end now.

I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward. You’ve heard me say before in different contexts, the words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.

Therefore, I call on President Trump to go on national television now, to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege. To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices, the floor of the United States Senate, rummaging through desks on the Capitol, on the House of Representatives, threatening the safety of duly elected officials. It’s not protest. It’s insurrection.

The world’s watching. Like so many other Americans, I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation — so long the beacon of light and hope for democracy — has come to such a dark moment. Through war and strife, America’s endured much and we will endure here and we will prevail again, and we’ll prevail now.

The work of the moment and the work of the next four years must be the restoration of democracy, of decency, honor, respect, the rule of law, just plain, simple decency, the renewal of a politics. It’s about solving problems, looking out for one another, not stoking the flames of hate and chaos.

As I said, America is about honor, decency, respect, tolerance. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been. The certification of the Electoral College vote is supposed to be a sacred ritual, which we affirm. Its purpose is to affirm the majesty of American democracy.

But today’s reminder, a painful one, that democracy is fragile and to preserve it, requires people of goodwill, leaders who have the courage to stand up, who are devoted not to the pursuit of power or their personal interests, pursuits of their own selfish interest at any cost, but of the common good.

Think what our children watching television is (sic) thinking. Think what the rest of the world is looking at. For nearly two and a half centuries, we, the people, in search of a more perfect union, have kept our eyes on that common good. America is so much better than what we’ve seen today.

Watching the scenes from the Capitol, I was reminded as I prepared other speeches in the past, I was reminded of the words of Abraham Lincoln in his annual message to Congress, whose work has today been interrupted by chaos. Here’s what Lincoln said. He said: “We shall nobly save or merely lose the last best hope on earth.” He went on to say: “The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way, which if followed, the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.”

The way is plain here, too. That's who we are. It’s the way of democracy, of respect, of decency, of honor and commitment as patriots to this nation. Not withstanding what I saw today, we’re seeing today, I remain optimistic about the incredible opportunities. There’s never been anything we can’t do, when we do it together. This god-awful display today is bringing home to every Republican and Democrat and independent in the nation, that we must step up.

This is the United States of America. There’s never, ever, ever, ever, ever been a thing we’ve tried to do, that we’ve done it together, we’ve not been able to do it. So, President Trump, step up. May God bless America and may God protect our troops and all those folks at the Capitol who are trying to preserve order. Thank you.

Trump spent much of Wednesday afternoon watching the insurrection on television from his private dining room off the Oval Office. But aside from sparing appeals for calm issued at the insistence of his staff, he was largely disengaged as the nation’s capital descended into unprecedented scenes of chaos as a mob of thousands tried to halt the peaceful transition of power.

Instead, a White House official said, most of Trump’s attention was consumed by his ire at Vice President Mike Pence, who said he would not overturn the will of voters in the congressional electoral count. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

The violence, coupled with the president’s tepid response, appeared to drive many Republicans to the breaking point after years of allegiance to Trump. In a sign of growing frustration, a number of White House aides were discussing a potential mass resignation, according to people familiar with the conversation, although some harbored concerns about what Trump might do in his final two weeks in office if they were not there to serve as guardrails when so few remain.

After four years with no shortage of fraught moments, Wednesday’s events quickly emerged as the nadir of morale in the Trump White House, as aides looked on in horror at the chaos at the Capitol fomented by Trump.

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s chief of staff and a former White House press secretary, submitted her resignation Wednesday, but declined to say what has prompted her move. White House social secretary Rickie Niceta and deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews also resigned. More departures were expected in the coming days, officials said. But other aides indicated they were staying to help smooth the transition to President-elect Biden’s administration.

Trump has been single-mindedly focused on his electoral defeat since Election Day, aides said, at the expense of the other responsibilities of his office, including the fight against the raging coronavirus. Indeed, it was Pence, not Trump, who spoke with the acting defense secretary to discuss mobilizing the D.C National Guard on Wednesday afternoon.

Trump only reluctantly issued the tweets and taped a video encouraging an end to the violence. The posts came at the insistence of staff and amid mounting criticism from Republican lawmakers urging him to condemn the violence being perpetrated in his name, according to the official.

And even as authorities struggled to take control of Capitol Hill after protesters overwhelmed police, Trump continued to level baseless allegations of mass voter fraud and praised his loyalists as “very special.”

“I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now,” he said in a video posted more than 90 minutes after lawmakers were evacuated from the House and Senate chambers. “We can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

Hours earlier, Trump had appeared at a massive rally near the White House, where he continued to urge supporters to fight the election results and encouraged them to march to the Capitol in remarks that were peppered with incendiary language and rife with violent undertones. At one point, he even suggested he might join them — a prospect that was discussed by the White House but eventually abandoned.

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“We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue … and we’re going to the Capitol … we’re going to try and give our Republicans … the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,” he said.

Earlier in the rally, his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had advocated what he had called “trial by combat.”

Trump’s tweets and video also drew the attention of the social media giants he has frequently maligned. The video was removed by Facebook, “because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence,” said the site’s head of integrity, Guy Rosen. Twitter took a more punitive approach, locking Trump’s account and warning, “Future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account.”

Before Trump released the video, Republican lawmakers and former administration officials had begged the president to intervene as the violence spiraled.

“I called him. I think we need to make a statement, make sure that we can calm individuals down,” House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California told Fox News.

A Senate ally, Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, appealed directly to the president in a tweet: “Mr. President @realDonaldTrump the men & women of law enforcement are under assault. It is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down.”

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., posted a video message urging Trump to “call it off.”

“This is banana republic crap that we’re watching right now,” said Gallagher, who had spoken out against objections from fellow Republicans to certifying the Electoral College vote that Biden won.

Former White House staff also issued pleas.

“Condemn this now, @realDonaldTrump — you are the only one they will listen to,” tweeted former White House communications director Alyssa Farah.

Added his former chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney: “The best thing @realDonaldTrump could do right now is to address the nation from the Oval Office and condemn the riots. A peaceful transition of power is essential to the country and needs to take place on 1/20.”

Pence, who was ushered out of the Senate chamber to a secure location as protesters breached the building, also called for protesters to disperse.

“The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now,” he tweeted. “Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building.”

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