When President Donald Trump told his supporters to come to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, the day Congress was supposed to count the Electoral College votes and certify Joe Biden’s win without incident, many imagined that there was potential for a Charlottesville-style powder keg. What happened next? The Democrats gained control of the Senate; Rudy Giuliani endorsed “trial by combat“; President Trump whipped his supporters into a frenzy by telling them the same election lies; Vice President Mike Pence correctly said he had no power to hand Trump reelection by throwing out electoral votes on a whim; the president’s supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol, derailing the joint session of Congress and forcing Pence and lawmakers to evacuate. While that was happening, Trump attacked VP Pence on Twitter.
President-elect Biden was first to respond to the “unprecedented assault” on American democracy, the assault “on the citadel of liberty,” the assault on Capitol Hill police, and the “assault on the rule of the law like few times we have ever seen it.”
Biden said the above-described assault “borders on sedition” and demanded that it end. Many disagreed with the assessment that this merely “bordered” on sedition.
It doesn't border on sedition. It is sedition. Here is the statute: pic.twitter.com/xj25XG329v
— Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) January 6, 2021
“The words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite,” Biden said. “I call on President Trump to go on national television now […] and demand an end to this siege.”
“It’s not protest, it’s insurrection,” Biden said. “I am genuinely shocked and saddened that […] our nation has come to such a dark moment.”
Rather than going on national television, Trump went on Twitter and shared a video that Twitter promptly flagged. The video has been viewed millions of times but can’t be liked, retweeted or replied to “due to a risk of violence.”
Trump did tell his supporters to “it’s time to go home” (which was not what he did in his prior tweets), but he said so only after saying he felt their pain and repeated the “stolen” and “fraudulent election” lies that incited the insurrection.
Trump went on to say “we love you” and “you’re very special.”
“I know how you feel, but go home and go home in peace,” he said.
Later on, Trump attempted to explain Wednesday’s events by again repeating the lie that the election was stolen from him and “great patriots” were angry.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” he said.
[Image via ABC News screengrab]
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