dpa/GNA – President Donald Trump on Tuesday said a speech that incited supporters before they stormed the US Capitol was “totally appropriate,” remaining defiant even as he faces an unprecedented second impeachment for his role in the deadly violence.
“If you read my speech, and many people have done it … It’s been analysed and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate,” he said in his first remarks to journalists since the attack last week.
The Republican took no responsibility when asked what his role was in the assault on Congress, which left five people dead.
Democrats in the House of Representatives have introduced an article of impeachment against him, accusing Trump of stoking violence against the US government after the mob of loyalists, riled up by his claims of election fraud, broke into the Capitol building.
The impeachment article notes that Trump repeated false claims that he won the November election at a rally moments before the rampage, which temporarily halted a joint congressional session to certify president-elect Joe Biden’s victory and forced lawmakers to go into hiding. Trump also egged on the crowd to march to the building.
Trump called the push to impeach him “absolutely ridiculous” and said it was “causing tremendous anger” in the country.
“I want no violence,” he added as he departed the White House on his way to visit the border wall with Mexico.
The House is due to vote later on Tuesday on a resolution brought by Democrats calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment and remove his boss from office by declaring him unfit to perform his duties.
If Pence refuses to act, as is expected, House Democrats have vowed to quickly move ahead with impeachment proceedings. The lower chamber could vote as early as Wednesday, a week before Biden is due to be inaugurated.
While the majority of Republicans are expected to vote against impeachment, three members of Trump’s party said they would vote in favour, including lawmaker Liz Cheney – the number-three Republican in the House of Representatives.
“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney said in a statement reported by US public radio. “Everything that followed was his doing.”
That means Trump could become the first US president to be impeached twice. He was impeached in 2019 on allegations of abusing his position, but the Republican-controlled Senate cleared him of charges last year.
Trump meanwhile said “the 25th amendment is of zero risk to me, but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration,” in comments during a visit to a section of the US-Mexico border wall.
He warned Democrats to “be careful what you wish for.”
“The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch-hunt in the history of our country,” he said.
If the Democrat-led House votes to impeach the Republican president again, a trial would then be conducted in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be needed to convict him.
There will almost certainly be no outcome before January 20.
If convicted, Trump could be barred from running for office again in 2024.
Meanwhile, federal law enforcement agencies are working to crack down on the perpetrators who stormed the Capitol Building last week.
“We are going to have, I believe, hundreds of criminal cases, both filed with our local courts, superior courts, and through the federal court system,” said Michael Sherwin, acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia.
More than 170 files have been opened on people who may have committed crimes on the Capitol grounds, Sherwin added.
Charges have been filed in more than 70 cases. Law enforcement noted that they are looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy.
“This is only the beginning,” Sherwin said. “After these criminal charges are filed via criminal complaint, that allows law enforcement across the United States to arrest people from Dallas to Arkansas to Nashville to Cleveland to Jacksonville.”