Within hours of becoming the first president to be impeached twice, President Trump posted a five-minute video on a White House Twitter account on Wednesday evening condemning the storming of the Capitol complex by his supporters last week and urged his followers to avoid a repeat in “the coming days both here in Washington and across the country.”
Mr. Trump recorded the video under pressure from aides, who have warned him that he faces potential legal exposure for the riot, which occurred immediately after a speech in which he urged them to “fight” the results of the election, which he falsely claimed was stolen.
The president did not mention his own role in instigating the violence last week. On Tuesday, he defended the remarks he made at a rally before his supporters marched to the Capitol as “totally appropriate” and said the effort by Congress to impeach and convict him was “causing tremendous anger.”
He also did not acknowledge the loss of life or his own false claims of the election being stolen in the two months before the rally last week.
The video came a short time after Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, made clear in a statement that he was open to voting to convict the president on the article of impeachment — a sea change from a year ago, when Mr. McConnell whipped fellow senators against a conviction in the president’s first impeachment trial. Just before the House impeached him on Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Trump issued a statement to his supporters calling on Americans to “ease tensions and calm tempers.”
In the video, president did not mention the five people who died as a result of the violence at the Capitol. But he did go further in his language than he has at any point, as law enforcement is bracing for new insurgencies in Washington and around the country next week.
“As I have said, the incursion of the U.S. Capitol struck at the very heart of our Republic,” Mr. Trump said, his most forceful statement after a few attempts that offered a fig leaf to his supporters last week. “It angered and appalled millions of Americans across the political spectrum.”
“I want to be very clear,” he continued. “I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week. 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” and supporting law enforcement officials.
During the riot by his supporters, a Capitol Police officer sustained extensive head injuries and later died.
As a candidate in 2016, Mr. Trump once encouraged rally attendees to physically attack protesters. But in the video on Wednesday, he said that “mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence.”
“If you do any of these things, you are not supporting our movement, you are attacking it, and you are attacking our country,” he said. “We cannot tolerate it.”
Of the reports of new demonstrations next week, Mr. Trump said, “There must be no violence, no lawbreaking and no vandalism of any kind.”
Michael Gold contributed reporting.