A day after he told his supporters “we love you,” President Donald Trump condemned them Thursday for violently swarming the U.S. Capitol in a statement that called for a “seamless transition of power.”
“America is and must always be a nation of law and order. The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy,” Trump said. “To those who engaged in acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay.”
Although it was filled with numerous falsehoods, the statement marks a stark shift for Trump, who only Wednesday had been slow to call for the rioters to disperse and had to be persuaded to send reinforcements for Capitol Police as the building was under siege.
His remarks Thursday were a remarkable about-face from the video he released Wednesday shortly after rioters stormed the building following a Trump rally, disrupting Congress as it was formally affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the count, were forced to flee. At least four people died.
He told rioters: “We love you. You’re very special.”
After the violence, however, Trump has faced growing calls from lawmakers for his impeachment for having encouraged supporters to march on the Capitol. There has also been increasing pressure on Pence and other Cabinet officials to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump from office just days before his term ends.
Over the last four years, he has rarely criticized acts of violence or racism by supporters.
Trump offered a rare reflection on the damage that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused Americans, and he also acknowledged his loss to Biden.
“Now Congress has certified the results, and the new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation,” he said.
It was also a shift from a statement released Wednesday on Twitter through Dan Scavino, his deputy chief of staff for communications, in which Trump repeated baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
In the statement, Trump promised an “orderly transition” of power but also said, “I totally disagree with the outcome of the election.”