Donald Trump has finally condemned fanatical supporters who “defiled” the Capitol complex on Wednesday, saying they “do not represent our country”.
The President released a video to Twitter on Thursday in which he also accepted the result of the election for the first time and pledged a “smooth transition” of power to Joe Biden.
He had been temporarily banned from Twitter and Facebook in relation to his posts amidst the choas, which saw five killed, after the platforms deemed him to be inciting violence.
Trump, who hours before the video had continued to claim falsely that the election had been stolen from him, said that “serving as your president has been the honor of my lifetime”.
The president slammed Wednesday’s violence, saying rioters had defiled the seat of American democracy, and said his focus would now turn to ensuring a smooth transition.
The statement was a stark reversal for Trump, who has spent months insisting he prevailed in the November 3 election due to widespread fraud, despite no evidence.
His exhortation on Wednesday to thousands of supporters that they should march to the Capitol to protest the election results whipped up a mob that overran police officers and invaded the Capitol building, forcing members of Congress into hiding for their own safety.
The top Democrats in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, have said Vice President Mike Pence is yet to respond to their calls for the 25th Amendment to be invoked.
They had called on the VP to invoke the provision of the U.S. Constitution that allows them to remove the president from power if he is unable to discharge the duties of the office.
Barring that, Pelosi said she would likely reconvene the House to initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump.
In the video, Trump called the riot a “heinous attack” that left him “outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem”.
However, he failed to address his role in inciting the violence, telling supporters while he knows they are “disappointed”, he wants them to know “our incredible journey is only just beginning”.
“I would like to begin by addressing the heinous attack on the United States Capitol,” he said.
“Like all Americans I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem. I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders.”
Numerous news outlets, however, have reported that it was Mike Pence, not Trump, who deployed the National Guard, while Trump resisted the measure.
He continued: “America is and must always be a nation of law and order. The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy.
“To those who engage in the acts of violence and destruction: you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law: you will pay. We have just been through an intense election and emotions are high, but now tempers must be cooled and calm we start. [sic] We must get on with the business of America.
“My campaign vigorously pursued every legal avenue to contest the election results. My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote.
“In so doing now is fighting to defend American democracy. I continue to strongly believe that we must reform our election laws to verify the identity and eligibility of all voters and to ensure faith and confidence in all future elections.
“Now, Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20.
“My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” he added.
It comes after a police officer was reported to be the fifth fatality in relation to the riots.
Unconfirmed reports say the officer was hit over the head with a fire extinguisher by a pro-Trump protester.
One woman – identified as US Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt – was shot and killed by police as the crowd breached the building and three others suffered medical emergencies that proved fatal.
The outgoing leader’s Twitter and Facebook accounts were temporarily suspended after he published posts deemed to incite violence amid the deadly Capitol riots.
His Twitter account was locked for 12 hours and the social media platform told him to remove three posts related to the unrest.
It also threatened to permanently ban the Republican leader if there are any future violations.
Facebook then followed suit, locking the President from posting for 24 hours, citing “two policy violations”.
Trump had posted a series of mixed messages as the violence continued, including the phrase “these are the things and events that happen”.
His final tweet before being shut down also falsely claimed his “landslide victory” over Democratic rival Biden had been “unceremoniously & viciously stripped away”.