Amid Impeachment Vote and Expectation of More ‘Armed Protests,’ President Trump Now Calls for ‘No Violence’
As the House of Representatives was on the verge of impeaching him for incitement, Trump released a statement calling for "NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind"
As the House of Representatives prepared to impeach him for inciting violence against the government — and after federal officials reportedly issued a warning about more armed protests following last week's deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol — President Donald Trump put out a brief statement calling for an end to the violence.
"In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind," Trump, 74, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon — an unusual move as a result of his Twitter account, his favored platform, being shut down.
"That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for," the president said. "I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You."
Separately, the FBI sent a memo to law enforcement agencies around the country this week warning that "armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols," the Associated Press reported Monday.
About 20,000 National Guard troops may be on hand to ensure President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration is secure next week, The Washington Post reported, while the National Parks Service closed off access to the Washington Monument until Jan. 24, citing "credible threats to visitors and park resources" this week.
Biden, who denounced the deadly U.S. Capitol riot as it was happening and called on Trump to "step up" and do so himself, said Monday he was "not afraid" of taking the oath of office outside amid elevated security concerns.
Both local officials and Biden organizers are asking the public to watch the Inauguration Day events remotely from home, due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the heightened security measures.
Trump's latest public statement calling for peace came as members of the House were debating whether to impeach him over his role in the riot, which left five people dead.
The president had not yet been seen publicly on Wednesday, though he is known to closely follow coverage of himself on cable TV while in the White House.
The House is expected to vote in favor of the impeachment charge, which accuses Trump of "incitement of insurrection." It would be the second time in 13 months Trump has been impeached, making him the first president to ever receive the congressional condemnation twice.
After being impeached, he will go on trial in the Senate, likely after he has left office on Jan. 20.
Trump's latest impeachment is expected to pass with at least several Republican votes, including from Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 GOP member in the House.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy planned to vote against impeachment but nonetheless said in his House speech Wednesday that he believed Trump bore some fault for the riot.
Before last week's insurrection, Trump told a crowd of his supporters at a rally that day to "fight like hell" and encouraged them to march to the Capitol, where Congress was in the process of ratifying the 2020 Electoral College vote showing Biden had won the election.
Once at the Capitol, the group turned into a violent mob, clashing with police and breaching the building, forcing lawmakers to evacuate or barricade themselves.
More than an hour after chaos broke out at the Capitol, Trump, who had asked them to behave "peacefully and patriotically," tweeted a video message telling his supporters involved in the riot that "we love you" and "you're very special," but he also told them to return home.
He later tweeted "these are the things and events that happen .... Remember this day forever!"
He spoke out more forcefully against the riot in a second video and in a subsequent tweet warned "the 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me .... will not be disrespected or treated unfairly."
Trump was subsequently permanently banned from Twitter "due to the risk of further incitement of violence," the company said. He was also barred "indefinitely" from Facebook and Instagram. YouTube announced Wednesday it was temporarily suspending his account as well.
On Tuesday, Trump denied responsibility for the deadly insurrection and said the speech he delivered beforehand was "totally appropriate."