Trump finally calls Capitol rioters a ‘mob’; Warns Democrats off impeachment

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President Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the Target Center in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times) NYTCREDIT: Doug Mills/The New York Times

In his first live speech since inciting a mob that overran the Capitol last week resulting in the deaths of five people, Donald Trump finally called the supporters who stormed the building a “mob” and warned Democrats not to remove him from office in his final days.

The outgoing president was vehement that the plans of Democrats to have him removed and replaced by vice president Mike Pence – either through the 25th Amendment or impeachment – would only inflame tensions.

“It’s causing tremendous anger and division and pain far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time,” Mr Trump said on Tuesday at a segment of the US-Mexico border wall in Alamo, Texas.

[Democrats in Congress kick off efforts to drive Trump from office after violence at Capitol]

Mr Trump also said that the desire of Democrats to have Mr Pence remove him via the 25th Amendment would “come back to haunt” the Biden administration, an apparent prediction that president-elect Joe Biden would not make it through his four-year term as president with his full mental faculties.

“The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes, be careful what you wish for,” Mr Trump said.

Throughout his 2020 presidential campaign, Mr Trump and his top aides repeatedly called Mr Biden’s mental cognition into question, alleging the 78-year-old may not be fit to hold office.

Mr Biden’s campaign and transition team have repeatedly shot down such speculation, which exploded in popularity in the conservative online ecosystem.

The former vice president’s physician released a three-page medical summary in 2019 stating Mr Biden was a “healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency to include those as chief executive, head of state and commander in chief”.

[Bill Belichick reject Trump’s Medal of Freedom honour]

Mr Trump’s speech on Tuesday centred around the US-Mexico border wall. While he claimed “we fixed it and we secured it”, the fact remains that Mr Trump fell far short of his 2016 campaign promise to build a wall along the entire border and have Mexico pay for it.

The president began his speech with a plea “for peace and for calm”, remarks meant to placate his detractors who have accused the president of inciting the riot at the Capitol by telling his supporters shortly before the storming of the Capitol last week to “fight” for their country.

Videos and anecdotes of the insurrection from last Wednesday have revealed Trump supporters beating police officers, breaking windows, and menacing journalists. One US Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, 41, was killed amid the chaos. The Capitol Police is actively searching for a man it wants to question about Mr Sicknick’s slaying, senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana tweeted on Tuesday.

Mr Trump reiterated his denunciation of the mob that he himself helped incite.

“Respect for law enforcement is the foundation of the Maga agenda,” the president said at the Texas border on Tuesday.

Law enforcement officials in the US have warned that the insurrection on the Capitol last week could embolden right wing extremists to launch more attacks across the country as Mr Biden prepares to take office.

The FBI has already sent out a memo notifying local forces that pro-Trump activists are planning “armed protests” at all 50 state capitals next week.

Mr Trump has declared a state of emergency in Washington ahead of Mr Biden’s inauguration on 20 January. The Capitol, where that ceremony is scheduled to take place, is being heavily fortified with National Guardsmen and other federal forces in addition to local police.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Trump refused to take any responsibility for the deadly riots at the Capitol last week in his first discussion with reporters since the incident.

“If you read my speech, and many people have done it, and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television, it’s been analysed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate,” the president said in response to questions about his role in the riots.

Mr Trump was referring to the speech he delivered to his supporters just before the violent mob launched the attacks, in which he lied about his electoral defeat, promoted conspiracy theories of rampant voter fraud and urged the audience to march to the Capitol and “fight”.

The House is slated to vote to impeach Mr Trump on Wednesday for “incitement to insurrection”.

Shortly before sending the crowd up to the Capitol, Mr Trump told his supporters: “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

The impeachment article cites that and other inflammatory lines from the speech as grounds for dismissal from office.

The article states: “In all this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperilled a coequal branch of government. He thereby betrayed his trust as president, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

Mr Trump would be the first president in US history to be impeached twice. And unlike his first impeachment, this second impeachment is expected to garner at least some Republican support.

Source: The independent