Trump says impeachment effort causing ‘tremendous anger’
President Trump on Tuesday criticized efforts by House Democrats to move forward with impeaching him a second time, calling it “ridiculous” and the cause of “tremendous anger” across the country.
The Democratic-controlled House is poised to vote Wednesday on impeaching Trump for inciting a violent mob of his supporters who attacked the Capitol last week. The riots left five individuals dead and have prompted broad condemnation of the president’s actions and rhetoric.
Trump, who spoke to reporters at the White House before leaving Washington for a trip to Texas on Tuesday to tour sections of the southern border wall, said that a second impeachment would be “continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics” and accused Democrats of endangering the country in moving forward with it. He also said that he wanted “no violence” following the assault in Washington, D.C., last week.
“We want no violence, never violence; we want absolutely no violence,” he said.
“This impeachment is causing tremendous anger,” the president continued. “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.”
The remarks represented his first in-person public statement since the riots last week. He did not address his role in the assault on the Capitol.
Trump has been mostly out of public sight since his election loss. On Tuesday, he ignored shouted questions from reporters, delivering just his statement.
Trump for two months refused to accept President-elect Joe Biden’s win and repeatedly claimed that the election was stolen from him through widespread fraud, assertions that have been roundly disputed by election officials and others.
The attack at the Capitol last week took place after Trump urged a crowd of supporters on the Ellipse to head to the complex and fight the election results as Congress convened to certify the Electoral College votes. Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews later Tuesday that those remarks were “totally appropriate.”
Trump initially resisted pressure to condemn the riots, releasing a video message Wednesday evening in which he urged his supporters to be peaceful but called them “special,” and said “I know how you feel.”
He eventually released another video on Thursday evening in which he condemned the violence and acknowledged that a new administration would take over on Jan. 20, saying he would be focused on an orderly transition. His Twitter account has since been permanently suspended due to the risk of inciting violence.
Trump was impeached in December 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress for pressuring Ukraine’s president to investigate the dealings of the Biden family. He was acquitted by the GOP-controlled Senate last February.
House lawmakers will vote Wednesday on whether to impeach Trump a second time, just a week before he leaves office. Democrats hold a slim majority in the House and some Republicans are weighing supporting the impeachment charge. No GOP House lawmakers crossed the aisle to support his impeachment in 2019.
The Senate is out of session until Jan. 19, meaning that an impeachment trial would likely occur after Biden is sworn in and Trump has left the White House. It’s unclear at this point if the Senate would have the votes needed to convict, which requires two-thirds of the chamber.
Trump’s language on Tuesday bore close resemblance to the rhetoric he regularly used to describe his first impeachment and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. After his acquittal last February, Trump took no responsibility for the actions that led up to his impeachment and continued to insist he did nothing wrong.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told GOP lawmakers on a conference call Monday that Trump told McCarthy privately that he takes some responsibility for inciting the riots. Trump has not done so publicly.