In the wake of the storming of the Capitol by his followers, resignations by top members of his Administration, and a drumbeat of calls for his resignation, impeachment, or removal from office, President Trump has released a video in which he essentially concedes the election, condemns the violence and calls for a calm transfer of power, though suggests he is not exiting the political stage for good.
The video also came as a Capitol Police officer reportedly died of injuries sustained in the attack on the Capitol Wednesday (Jan. 6).
Thursday night, the White House Office of the Press Secretary sent out a one-line notice that the President had "released a video address on national healing and unity," and a link to it.
In the video, a somewhat chastened-sounding Trump said he was addressing the "heinous attack" on the Capitol and, perhaps for the first time in weeks, did not say the election had been rigged or stolen from him.
The President said he was outraged by the violence and the "defiling of the seat of American Democracy." It was a far different tone from earlier statements that the supporters who, on his advice, marched to the Capitol while the electoral votes were being counted and tried to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden's win, which Trump had told the crowd in a lengthy speech was illegitimate and stolen by the media and his political opponents.
In the video, he said those who committed acts of violence and destruction did not represent the country.
"We have just been through a tense election and emotions are high," he said, adding: "Tempers must be cooled and calm restored."
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Trump said his campaign had pursued "every legal avenue to contest the election results" and that that had been an effort to defend democracy." But his claims of a stolen election were not repeated. Instead, he said he continued to believe election law reform was needed.
"Now Congress has certified the results," he said, "and a new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. My focus now turns to insuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation."
The President ended the video with a direct appeal to his base that seemed to indicate the video was also a way to try and preserve his political future. "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."
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