The president claimed the "real problem" was with politicians who spoke about the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer

January 12, 2021 12:52 PM
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President Donald Trump
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

President Donald Trump took no responsibility for his role in inciting last week's attempted coup, telling reporters Tuesday that his speech to a group of supporters — in which he told them to march to the Capitol and "fight like hell" — was "totally appropriate."

The president's remarks came as he spoke to reporters before taking a flight to Alamo, Texas, where he is visiting the border.

He briefly answered questions before leaving, responding to one reporter who asked: "What is your role in what happened at the Capitol, what is your personal responsibility?"

"So, 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 analyzed and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate," Trump, 74, said, alluding to the fiery speech — full of lies about voter fraud and a "stolen" election — that he made to a rally of supporters at the Ellipse on the National Mall last Wednesday. 

Trump's speech to his supporters on Wednesday — which ended with him directing the crowd to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, just an hour or so before the mob stormed Capitol — has been blamed by politicians on both sides of the aisle for inciting the violence that soon unfolded. Five fatalities have since been reported in connection to the resulting riots.

Weeks prior to the attempted insurrection, Trump had urged his supporters to travel to Washington to stop the certification of the election results, writing on Twitter: "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"

Thousands of his supporters gathered that morning as Trump spoke near the White House, while lawmakers inside the Capitol were working to certify the Electoral College results and confirm President-elect Joe Biden as the victor of the 2020 election.

As he continued to spread lies about the election, Trump told the crowd to march to the Capitol and "show strength."

His supporters did march to the Capitol, eventually breaching its doors, causing the evacuation of lawmakers and the vice president as they ransacked offices and became increasingly violent, even beating a police officer.

More than an hour after the rioting began, Trump shared a video addressing the mob, in which he also told his supporters: "We love you. You're very special. Go home." 

On Tuesday, as Democrats sought to have Trump removed by either impeachment or the 25th Amendment, Trump remained defiant about his role in stoking the violence.

Instead, he said the "real problem" was with politicians who spoke about last summer's "horrible riots," a reference to the Black Lives Matter protests held in the wake of a slew of widely-reported police-involved shootings of unarmed Black people.

"And if you look at what other people have said — politicians at a high level — about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland, and Seattle and various other places, that was a real problem, what they said," Trump said, without naming any specific instances in which lawmakers incited violence or endorsed an attempted overthrow of the American government.

None of the Black Lives Matter protests sparked an attempted coup on the United States government. Though some of those protests did become violent, a report by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project found that more than 93% of the Black Lives Matter protests were peaceful.

"They've analyzed my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody to the 'T' thought it was totally appropriate," the president said, without naming who, exactly, thought his words were appropriate.

While he offered vague criticism of "politicians" other than himself, Trump told reporters that his own words last week were "totally appropriate."