Trump Disavows Violence by Backers He Egged On at Pre-Riot Rally

President Donald Trump responded to his second impeachment by calling on Americans to unite and avoid further violence — after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach for his role in a riot by his supporters that stormed the Capitol and left five people dead.

“I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week,” Trump said in a video statement released by the White House Wednesday evening. “Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence.”

He added that he’d been briefed by the U.S. Secret Service about “potential threats” in Washington and across the country. His statement did not directly respond to the impeachment vote.

“Whether you are on the right or on the left, a Democrat or a Republican, there is never a justification for violence. No excuses, no exceptions. America is a nation of laws. Those who engaged in the attacks last week will be brought to justice.”

He also criticized major technology firms for, as he put it, suppressing free speech. Major social media companies have responded to last week’s violence in part by freezing Trump’s own accounts, while purging others linked to conspiracy theories and threats.

Trump’s impeachment was backed unanimously by House Democrats, as well as 10 Republicans, including Representative Liz Cheney who spoke out forcefully against the president’s conduct. Trump becomes the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, and the move now sets up a Senate trial that will likely not conclude before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Trump has previously defended his remarks to his supporters shortly before the riot, saying they were “totally appropriate.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump released a statement that called for “NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind,” as thousands of troops were dispatched to Washington before Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

Trump has rejected calls to resign, and Vice President Mike Pence rebuffed a push by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution and oust the president.

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