Ex-White House officials urge Trump to condemn violence at Capitol

Julia Nikhinson

Former White House officials on Wednesday called on President Trump to condemn violence at the U.S. Capitol, where his supporters stormed the complex after overwhelming police outside.

The president issued a pair of tweets calling for calm at the Capitol, but he had yet to condemn the violence.

“Condemn this now, @realDonaldTrump- you are the only one they will listen to. For our country!” tweeted Alyssa Farah, who most recently served as White House communications director and worked as the vice president’s secretary before that.

Mick Mulvaney, who served as the president’s chief of staff for just over a year, wrote that Trump’s initial  tweet urging protesters to be peaceful was insufficient.

“He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home,” Mulvaney tweeted.

“STOP. Just STOP. Peace. Law and Order. Safety for All,” former White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway added in a tweet.

Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus added: “Many of these folks are nothing but domestic terrorists. And many are criminals and trouble makers all acting in a manner opposite of patriotism. These violent people have no respect for democracy. Pure insanity and disgusting.”

Austin Cantrell, a former assistant White House press secretary who left his job earlier this year, said in a statement that he was “disgusted by the violent and illegal actions of excited rage on display today in and around the U.S. Capitol Building, a temple to freedom I have worked in and love dearly.”

“Every day, every person chooses to be either part of the problem or part of the solution. President Donald J. Trump and other Republican leaders should immediately denounce today’s illegal action as an affront to the American Experiment of self government and take into account the power their words have to heal or harm our Republic,” he said.

Chaos engulfed the Capitol building shortly after a joint session of Congress convened to certify the Electoral College votes that affirmed Joe Biden as the next president. Republican lawmakers in both chambers were expected to object to the results in at least three states in an effort that was not expected to change the result.

Just before the session, Trump held a rally at the White House Ellipse where he repeated his unproven claims that the election was “stolen” or “rigged.”

In his remarks, he encouraged supporters to march toward the Capitol and urged lawmakers to refrain from certifying Biden as the winner.

“You’ll never take back our country with weakness,” Trump said. “You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated.”

“I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically, make your voices heard today,” he added.

But the situation quickly escalated as Trump supporters clashed with police, overwhelming them and forcing their way into the Capitol complex. Images circulated on social media of Capitol Police officers with guns drawn, barricading both chambers of Congress.

Vice President Pence and other lawmakers were evacuated or told to shelter in place.

Trump’s first tweet as the scene unfolded was one attacking Pence for saying he would not unilaterally reject electors to aid the president’s case.

The president a short time later issued two tweets calling for calm.

“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement,” he wrote. “They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful,” he added later. “No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”

Updated at 4:59 p.m.

Tags 2020 presidential election Alyssa Farah Austin Cantrell Capitol breached Donald Trump Electoral College protest Joe Biden Kellyanne Conway Mick Mulvaney Reince Priebus
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