Donald Trump has defended telling his supporters to “fight like hell”, calling his speech before the deadly US Capitol riot “totally appropriate”.
In his first public remarks to reporters since a pro-Trump mob attacked, the outgoing US President assumed no responsibility for his role in fomenting a violent insurrection.
Mr Trump falsely claimed that those who analysed his fiery rally speech to protesters on January 6 had found no problems with what he said.
“Everybody to a T thought it was appropriate,” he said on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday morning (Australian time).
- Democrats begin historic second impeachment against Trump
- FBI’s dark warning of more violence ahead of Inauguration Day
Mr Trump, who is under increasing pressure to resign before Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, again reiterated, “people thought that what I said was totally appropriate”.
He said the prospect of impeachment was causing “tremendous anger” in the US and implied there would be violence if he was removed from office.
Only then did he add that he did not want violence.
“This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing,” Mr Trump said.
“For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger. I want no violence.”
Mr Trump seemed to deflect blame by highlighting other politicians’ comments about protests against racial injustice and police brutality.
“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,” he said.
Mr Trump further suggested that suspending his social media accounts could cause an uproar among his supporters.
“It causes a lot of problems and a lot of anger,” he said.
“There’s always a countermove when they do that.”
He took no questions before leaving for the town of Alamo, Texas, to view construction of the wall along the US-Mexico border.
There, Mr Trump was expected to make his first public appearance since last week’s riot.
Back in Washington, momentum was building behind attempts to remove him from office.
The House of Representatives was preparing to vote on a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment due to Mr Trump encouraging the violent storming of the Capitol.
Last week, about an hour before his supporters carried out the deadly breach, Mr Trump told them that “together we are determined to defend and preserve government of the people, by the people and for the people”.
“We fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” he said on January 6.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives plans to vote as soon as Wednesday on an article of impeachment charging him with “incitement of insurrection” over the violence that ensued at the Captiol.
That’s unless Mr Trump resigns or Mr Pence moves to oust him under a provision in the US Constitution.