US President Donald Trump sent out a video message on Thursday night, condemning his supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol and said he would prepare for a transition.
“The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy,” Trump said of the violence.
“To those who engage in the acts of violence and destruction: you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law: you will pay.”
The video followed a wave of resignations from his administration and calls from top congressional Democrats, former White House aides, business leaders, and even the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal for Trump’s immediate removal from office even though his term ends on January 20 over his role in inciting the insurrection. Members of Congress have also discussed impeachment.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, said Pence and the Trump cabinet should invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which provides an avenue for the president to be removed.
On Wednesday his supporters marched on the Capitol, overwhelmed police barricades and broke into the building, Trump, in a fiery address at midday exhorted them to “stop the steal” and make a stand for his presidency. In egging on the mob, he repeated false claims of voter fraud even as both houses of Congress were preparing to certify Biden’s victory in the Electoral College vote.
But on Thursday Trump called for “healing and reconciliation” and said he would turn his focus to the transition, in a message that appeared designed to quell growing alarm among even his closest allies and aides.
“A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20th,” Trump said. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”
Trump’s remarks in the video were a notable departure in tone from recent weeks, and the first instance of Trump condemning the violence without also expressing solidarity with his supporters or reiterating his many baseless charges of election fraud. Shortly before the violence broke out, Trump told demonstrators he would “never concede” an election that he falsely claimed had been stolen.
The president also hinted at a possible second act in his political life, even as the consequences of Wednesday’s bloody riot continued to reverberate.
“Serving as your president has been the honor of my lifetime,” Trump said, standing behind a lectern at the White House. “And to all my wonderful supporters I know you are disappointed but I also want you to know our incredible journey is only just beginning.”