Trump assumed no responsibility for what happened last Wednesday, despite telling his supporters in the hour beforehand to “fight like hell.” And he did not specifically decry attempts to find and kill political leaders, including his own vice president.
Instead, speaking at the White House and later at Joint Base Andrews before departing for Texas, Trump suggested attempts by Democrats and tech companies to rein in his dangerous rhetoric could themselves lead to violence.
He falsely said those who’d analyzed his remarks before the deadly insurrection attempt had found no fault in them.
“They’ve analyzed my speech, my words,” he said. “Everybody to a T thought it was appropriate.”
It was a characteristically belligerent stance for a President who enters his final week in office under looming threat of a second impeachment. As he has previously, Trump sought to deflect blame on Democrats and equivocated on his own role in fomenting dangerous behavior.
He claimed the “real problem” is what other politicians said about protests over the summer in Seattle and Portland, Oregon.
It was only in an aside that he said: “You always have to avoid violence.”
Earlier, as he departed the White House, the President denounced Democrats pursuing his historic second impeachment, seeming to imply they could provoke a violent response.
“This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing,” he told reporters on the White House South Lawn. “For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger. I want no violence.”
He similarly said the decisions by Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to suspend his accounts were causing fury among his supporters — suggesting that could itself cause violence, and not his own language fanning violence among his base.
“It causes a lot of problems and a lot of anger,” he said. “There’s always a counter-move when they do that.”
Trump’s remarks on the White House South Lawn were his first in days and his first engagement with reporters in weeks.
He has isolated himself in the White House following riots at the US Capitol that he incited during a rally in the hour beforehand.
Trump was slow to condemn the protests, which he watched on television from the dining room next to the Oval Office. He was convinced by advisers that a forceful denunciation of his own supporters was necessary, both because he was facing removal from office and because he faces potential legal questions about his role in inciting the riots.
Later, Trump appeared to some aides to regret taping a video in which he denounced the violence and conceded he would not be serving a second term in office.
Trump spent the weekend largely in isolation, as aides either distanced themselves from him or limited their time in his presence. Trump canceled a planned trip to Camp David, where his closest aides were hoping he would get into a good mindset ahead of his final stretch in office. Instead, he spent the weekend stewing to his deputy chief of staff, Dan Scavino, and entered his final full week angrier than ever.