Trump claims his speech before attack on the Capitol was ‘totally appropriate’
President accuses Democrats of continuing the ‘witch-hunt’ against him ahead of possible impeachment vote
In his first public appearance since last week’s riots as he left for a visit to Texas, Mr Trump was asked by reporters if he played any role in inciting the violence. “People thought that what I said was totally appropriate,” he said of his speech.
Mr Trump also accused Democrats of continuing the “witch-hunt” against him ahead of a possible impeachment vote on Wednesday in the House of Representatives.
“It’s really a continuation of the greatest witch-hunt in the history of politics,” he said. “This impeachment is causing tremendous anger…it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing.
Later, during a speech to celebrate the building of a section of the border wall with Mexico, Mr Trump said: “Now is the time for our nation to heal. It’s time for peace and for calm. Respect for law enforcement… is the foundation for the MAGA agenda,” a reference to his Make America Great Again slogan.
Reading from a teleprompter after he had signed a Donald Trump plaque on the border wall, he said: “A mob stormed the Capitol and trashed the halls of government. As I have consistently said throughout my administration, we believe in respecting America’s history and traditions, not tearing them down.”
Mr Trump was accompanied on Air Force One to the event by senator Lindsey Graham, who said last week that he was breaking from Mr Trump over his refusal to accept the election results.
The president during his speech also claimed that the 25th amendment – the clause in the constitution that allows a vice-president and cabinet to remove a president – was a “zero risk” to him, but would “come back to haunt Joe Biden. As the expression goes, be careful what you wish for.”
He was speaking as the House of Representatives was gathering on Tuesday night to vote on a resolution calling on vice-president Mike Pence to invoke the amendment. Should Mr Pence refuse – as appears increasingly likely – the 435-member chamber will vote on impeaching Mr Trump on Wednesday.
Top Democratic senator Chuck Schumer described Tuesday’s comments by the president accusing him and Nancy Pelosi of creating “tremendous danger” by pursuing impeachment as “despicable”.
“What Trump did today, blaming others for what he caused, is a pathological technique used by dictators,” he said.
Meanwhile, the FBI and the department of justice defended their actions in the run-up to last week’s riot in the Capitol, stating that they had passed on information regarding a possible attack to law enforcement partners, including the Capitol Police force.
It comes as the Washington Post reported that the FBI issued an internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war” the day before the attack on the Capitol.
At a press conference on Tuesday acting US attorney for Washington DC, Michael Sherman, said that two pipe bombs that had been placed at the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee offices in Washington were “real devices” comprising explosive igniters and timers.
A $50,000 award for information is being offered by the FBI for any information related to the bombs.
The FBI has warned that “armed protests” have been planned at all 50 state capitols and in Washington DC ahead of next week’s presidential inauguration.