Donald Trump, facing calls for him to be removed from office in the final days of his presidency, posted a video on Thursday calling for unity and acknowledging that Joe Biden would be the next occupant of the White House.
“A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” Trump said. “This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
The video was perhaps the closest thing to a concession since the November election.
The speech also was a sharp contrast to his rhetoric in the wake of the November elections, in which he claimed that the election was stolen from him. The siege at the Capitol, which Democrats and a number of Republicans say was stoked by Trump’s defiance of the results, has led to calls for Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment.
Trump’s video comes a day after he delivered a defiant speech, released as his supporters were still occupying the Capitol, in which he called for peaceful protests but still made unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him. Just hours earlier, he calls on demonstrators to march to the Capitol, where Congress was meeting in joint session to certify the electoral votes in favor of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Twitter blocked his access to his Twitter feed for 12 hours until he removed a series of tweets about the election, and Facebook has restricted him entirely for the next two weeks.
In the newly released video, Trump condemns the violence, saying that he was “outraged by the lawlessness and mayhem.” He said that the rioters in the Capitol “have defiled the seat of American democracy.”
“To those who broke the law, you will pay,” Trump said.
Capitol Police were unable to control the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol, forcing the Capitol complex to go into lockdown as lawmakers were taken to secure locations and many others barricaded doors and took cover behind desks. Hundreds forced their way in and ransacked offices, took to the floor of the Senate and pounded on the door of the House chamber in an armed standoff with police.
CNN reported that a Capitol Police officer who was injured on Wednesday had died. One woman demonstrator, identified as Ashli Babbitt, was killed when she was shot in the Capitol by a plainclothes officer. Three others were taken to the hospital for medical emergencies and later died.
House and Senate Democratic leaders are calling for Trump’s immediate removal, and they are being joined with a number of other figures, including some Republicans. Trump’s former chief of staff, John Kelly, told CNN that the Cabinet should at least meet and discuss Trump’s removal “because the behavior yesterday and the weeks and months before that have just been outrageous from the president. And what happened on Capitol Hill yesterday is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the frauds.” Kelly said he’d vote to remove the president if he were in the cabinet.
The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page called for Trump to resign in a new editorial posted on Thursday.
Trump has less than two weeks left in his presidency, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that it was still urgent to act because “any day can be a horror show.”
In his video message, Trump finished with a nod to his supporters, perhaps suggesting that he is weighing another presidential bid.
“To all of my wonderful supporters, I know you are disappointed, but I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning,” he said at the end of his remarks.
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