This time around, it appears Trump’s aides finally managed to convince him that he could be in real legal and political jeopardy after he was impeached a second time and by the most bipartisan vote in American history. Talk about special.
“As I have said, the incursion of the U.S. Capitol struck at the very heart of our republic,” Trump said at the outset of the 5-minute video released shortly after his second impeachment. “It angered and appalled millions of Americans across the political spectrum.”
“I want to be very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week,” he added. “Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country. And no place in our movement. Making America great again has always been about defending the rule of law, supporting the men and women of law enforcement, and upholding our nation’s most sacred traditions and values. Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for.”
“No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence. No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag. No true supporter of mine could ever threaten or harass their fellow Americans,” Trump continued. “If you do any of these things, you are not supporting our movement, you are attacking it, and you are attacking our country. We cannot tolerate it.”
Trump defended his cultists’ First Amendment rights to protest but urged demonstrators to remain peaceful. Whether someone is a Democrat or Republican, on the left or the right, Trump stressed there was “never” a justification for violence.
Whether Trump’s comments will have any practical effect other than maybe mitigating his legal liability moving forward and giving GOP senators a fig leaf for acquittal is an open question. Law enforcement agencies nationwide are bracing for attacks on state capitols and the U.S. Capitol alike, with the National Guard reportedly beefing up its presence in Washington to some 20,000 troops. The entire National Mall will reportedly be closed on Inauguration Day due to security concerns.