US President Donald Trump has released a video addressing the violence of the US Capitol riots and warned his supporters not to go down that path again.
It comes just over a week after tens of thousands of his supporters stormed the US Capitol building — and just hours after Trump was impeached for a historic second time.
The mob disrupted the formal certification of Biden’s victory over Trump in the November 3 election, sent lawmakers into hiding and left five people dead, including a police officer.
Trump used the White House Twitter account to deliver the video message, in which he condemned the violent actions and warned against any more.
“I want to be very clear, I unequivocally condemn the violence that 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. Supporting the men and women of law enforcement and upholding our nation’s most scared traditions and values.
“Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for, no true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence. No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag. No true supporter of mine could ever threaten or harras their fellow Americans.”
The tweet comes less than an hour after Donald Trump was impeached — which he did not address in the video.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 232-197 to impeach Trump, with 10 Republicans joining with Democrats to charge him with incitement of insurrection.
The House passed a single article of impeachment – a formal charge – accusing Trump of “incitement of insurrection,” focused upon an incendiary speech he delivered to thousands of supporters shortly before the pro-Trump mob rampaged through the Capitol.
As a precaution, hundreds of US National Guards spent the night guarding the building ahead of Wednesday’s impeachment vote.
A large presence of guard members dressed in fatigues and carrying rifles guarded the outside the building, while others lined the corridors of the Capitol.
While National Guard troops have been stationed inside and outside the seat of Congress since at least Friday, earlier they had not been armed with rifles.
Now, some of the 20,000 National Guard troops ordered to Washington to secure the city before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20 have weapons in hand. Riot shields and gas masks are piled in the hallways.
New fencing and other security measures have also gone up around the building that is seen by many as an important global symbol of democracy. A two-metre high fence has been erected around the Capitol, with metal barriers and National Guard troops protecting the congressional office buildings that surround it.
“The attack on the Capitol was a violent insurrection that resulted in the spilling of American blood,” said US Representative Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York. “And that’s why extraordinary security measures have been taken.
“Officers were brutally beaten. The attackers wanted to assassinate Nancy Pelosi, hang Mike Pence, and hunt down sitting members of Congress. That’s insurrection. That’s sedition. That’s lawlessness. That’s terror,” Jeffries said.
National Guard troops have been frequently used by states in helping law enforcement forces quell protests in the past year. However, the decision to arm them with guns highlights fears over the threat of further violence in the days leading up to the inauguration.
Officials have said it is important for the troops to be armed for their self defence and that they are still in a support role of law enforcement forces.
– with Reuters