Trump asks supporters to avoid violence before inauguration
(Updates with Trump's 2nd video statement)
President Donald J. Trump. EFE-EPA/Chris Kleponis/File
United States House of Representatives Majority Whip James Clyburn walks to his office from the House floor inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 13 January 2021 ahead of impeachment proceedings against US President Donald J. Trump on a charge of "incitement of insurrection." Trump is accused of encouraging the storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters on 06 January 2021, a violent incident that left five dead. EPA-EFE/SHAWN THEW
United States House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer walks to the House floor inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 13 January 2021 ahead of impeachment proceedings against US President Donald J. Trump on a charge of "incitement of insurrection." Trump is accused of encouraging the storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters on 06 January 2021, a violent incident that left five dead. EPA-EFE/SHAWN THEW
(Updates with Trump's 2nd video statement)
Washington, Jan 13 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Wednesday issued a second video message to the nation in which he "unequivocally" condemned the violence in the attack by his supporters on the US Capitol last week.
"I want to make it very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week," Trump said in the video posted to the White House's YouTube channel, going on to say that "no true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence."
He called for calm and asked people to help promote peace throughout the country.
"We have seen political violence spiral out of control. We have seen too many riots, too many mobs, too many acts of intimidation and destruction. It must stop," Trump said, adding that "Whether you are on the right or on the left, a Democrat or a Republican, there is never a justification for violence ... no excuses, no exceptions."
"America is a nation of laws," the president went on to say. "Those who engaged in the attacks of last week will be brought to justice."
"Everybody must follow our laws and obey the instructions of law enforcement," he said.
Trump made no mention in the video of the House of Representatives vote earlier in the afternoon to impeach him for a second time, this time over "incitement of insurrection" in egging on the mob that put the Capitol under siege.
After the attack on the Capitol, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube banned or suspended the president's accounts and in the video he criticized the efforts by social media platforms to quell inflammatory comments, saying that "The efforts to censor, cancel and blacklist our fellow citizens are wrong and they are dangerous. What is needed now is for us to listen to one another, not to silence one another."
In the Capitol invasion by the enraged Trump-supporting mob, the rioters attacked police, roughed up reporters and put lawmakers in fear for their safety and perhaps even their lives.
Five people lost their lives amid the violence, including one Capitol police officer beaten to death by the rioters and one female demonstrator who was shot to death by police.
Trump said in the video that he was "shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol" and he urged that any demonstrations or protests being planned in the next few days to be "respectful and peaceful."
Earlier in the afternoon, before the House voted to impeach him for the second time, Trump had asked his followers not to resort to "violence" or break the law in the coming days, after multiple reports have pointed to new armed gatherings being planned before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.
"In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind," Trump said in a brief statement released by the White House.
"That is not what I stand for and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You," he added.
The president's brief statement came as the House of Representatives was preparing to impeach him for "inciting" insurrection among his followers last week, after which they marched on and invaded the US Capitol building.
Trump has sent contradictory messages regarding the assault by his followers on the Capitol. During the attack he described the rioters as "very special people" but later he tried to distance himself from them and their actions, condemning the violence they had perpetrated and in which five people, including a Capitol police officer, died.
On Tuesday, Trump refused to take any responsibility for the attack and said that the "speech" he delivered to his angry supporters at the White House was "totally appropriate," urging them to head for Congress to prevent lawmakers there from certifying Biden's Nov. 3 presidential election victory.
The president's new message comes two days after the FBI warned that radical followers of Trump are planning "armed protests" in all 50 states between Jan. 16-20, when Biden will be inaugurated.
The extremist groups, who after the closure of thousands of their Twitter accounts and the blockading of the conservative social network Parler have begun coordinating their activities in encrypted messaging apps like Telegram, have also threatened to make a new assault on the Capitol or the state congress buildings.
Despite Trump's call to avoid violence, some analysts believe that the president has egged on his supporters even more with his remarks Tuesday that the impeachment being prepared in Congress is creating much "anger" across the country, although he did not say specifically who was angry.
Last week's violence has led authorities to strengthen security in Washington to the max, and it is expected that before the inauguration more than 20,000 members of the National Guard will be activated, with some such troops already having been deployed to protect the Capitol for the past few days.
Trump impeached for 2nd time
Washington, Jan 13 (efe-epa).- The United States House of Representatives made history Wednesday, voting 232-197 to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time in his four-year term.
Ten of the outgoing president's fellow Republicans united with the Democratic majority in the House to impeach him for "incitement of insurrection" after a mob of his supporters - inflamed by Trump's evidence-free claims of fraud in the Nov. 3 election - stormed the Capitol a week ago.
The assault, which occurred while a joint session of Congress was being held to certify President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, left five dead.
Trump had urged his supporters to gather in Washington on Jan. 6 and, in a speech at a rally that day, encouraged the crowd to march to the Capitol.
Minutes after Wednesday's vote in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the upper chamber would not convene until Jan. 19, a day before Biden's inauguration, which means Trump's trial will take place after he leaves office.
News reports Tuesday citing unnamed sources as saying that McConnell saw this second attempt to impeach Trump as justified had led some Democrats to hope the Kentucky Republican might agree to bring back the Senate early.
In a message to Republican senators reaffirming the Jan. 19 start to the new session, McConnell wrote that "while the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate."
Passage of the impeachment resolution in the House was a foregone conclusion, but the question of how many Republicans would vote against Trump added an element of suspense.
Four GOP House members - Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, John Katko of New York and Fred Upton of Michigan - signaled ahead of time that they would vote in favor of the resolution.
Joining them were Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, both of Washington state; Peter Meijer of Michigan, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio and David Valadao of California.
The 10 Republican "yes" votes made this the most bipartisan impeachment in US history.
And even as he opposed impeachment during the debate that preceded the vote, the leader of the Republican minority in the House, Kevin McCarthy, acknowledged that Trump was a fault.
"The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters," the California lawmaker said. "He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding."
The president was impeached by the House in late 2019 on one charge of abuse of power stemming from an allegation that he sought personal political gain that year by improperly pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce a corruption investigation into then-candidate Biden and his son Hunter.
He also faced a separate charge of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry.
Trump was acquitted in the Republican-controlled Senate early last year, but cannot be sure that a second trial will produce the same outcome.
The rationale for going forward with a Senate trial after Trump leaves the presidency would be to disqualify him from holding political office in the future.
Conviction following a Senate impeachment trial requires a two-thirds majority.
The 100-member body will be equally divided among Democrats and Republicans once two recent election results in Georgia are certified, but the Democrats will effectively have a 51-50 majority thanks to the participation of soon-to-be-Vice President Kamala Harris in her constitutional role as president of the Senate.
New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, who will become the Senate majority leader on Jan. 20, said that if Trump is convicted, the chamber will then vote on barring him from public office for the rest of his life.
Trump on Tuesday broke his silence following the Capitol incursion, calling the new impeachment drive "absolutely ridiculous" and a "continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics."
He has been hounded throughout his presidency by accusations of a conspiracy between his campaign and Russia to steal the 2016 election, allegations that sparked a special counsel probe which ultimately found insufficient evidence of collusion.
Political tensions are high in the US ahead of Biden's inauguration, which Trump plans to boycott.
Ahead of Biden's swearing-in ceremony, authorities are deploying 20,000 National Guard troops and setting up barricades around the Capitol to avoid a repeat of last Wednesday's violence. EFE