Trump tells Capitol rioters "we love you," stokes election lies after Biden condemns "insurrection"

Twitter quickly locked Trump's video praising rioters "due to a risk of violence"

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published January 6, 2021 5:35PM (EST)

Donald Trump and Joe Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/The White House/Joe Biden Official Campaign)
Donald Trump and Joe Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/The White House/Joe Biden Official Campaign)

President-elect Joe Biden condemned the pro-Trump rioters who stormed the Capitol building during a joint session of Congress and demanded President Donald Trump speak out on national television to do the same. Minutes later, the White House released a 60-second video of Trump repeating the lies that fueled the siege, praising his supporters as "very special" and urging them to "go home."

Trump supporters attacked Capitol police officers, breached security barricades, scaled walls, smashed doors and windows, and stormed the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to lock down and later evacuate. The unprecedented siege came as both chambers of Congress debated an objection to the Electoral College results in Arizona lodged by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. At least one person was shot. Capitol police drew their guns in a standoff at the door to the House chamber. Other supporters invaded lawmakers' offices and rummaged through desks. No lawmakers have been reported injured, but six people, including one law enforcement officer, were taken to the hospital. Explosive devices were found, at the Capitol and the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican National Committees, according to multiple reports. The city declared a 6 p.m. curfew and the D.C. and Virginia National Guards were activated in response to the assault on both chambers.

"At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault, unlike anything we've seen in modern times," Biden said from Wilmington, Delaware. "The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are. What we're seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness."

The siege "borders on sedition," he said.

"I call on President Trump to go on national television now, to fulfill his oath and defend the constitution and demand an end to this siege," Biden said. "It's not a protest; it's insurrection. The world is watching."

Trump, who published two tweets urging supporters to be "peaceful" but did not demand they end their siege of the Capitol, spoke in a recorded video published to Twitter moments later. The president urged his supporters to go home even as he continued to push his false claims about election rigging. Hours earlier, he addressed his supporters to check off a litany of false allegations about fraud and irregularities that have repeatedly been rejected by courts and Trump-appointed judges, his own administration and Republican election officials.

"I know your pain. I know you're hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it… But you have to go home now," Trump said in the pre-recorded video that was quickly locked by Twitter "due to a risk of violence." "We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don't want anyone hurt. It's a very tough period of time. There's never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they take it away from all of us… This was a fraudulent election but we can't play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You're very special."

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., said the video shows Trump is "detached from reality" and called for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the "25th Amendment."

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Mich., said she would introduce articles of impeachment against Trump in response to his role in fueling the assault on the Capitol.

"I am drawing up Articles of Impeachment," she tweeted. "Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate.  We can't allow him to remain in office, it's a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath."

Freshman Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., argued that the blame lay not just with Trump but other Republicans who pushed his dangerous fraud lies.

"I believe the Republican members of Congress who have incited this domestic terror attack through their attempts to overturn the election must face consequences. They have broken their sacred Oath of Office," she said. "I will be introducing a resolution calling for their expulsion."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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Aggregate Capitol Riot Cori Bush Donald Trump Joe Biden Politics Ted Lieu