WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told his supporters on Wednesday to “go home” after they stormed the Capitol in protest of his reelection defeat, but he also praised their mission even after it had erupted in violence and suggested it was justified.
In a video message tweeted as authorities struggled to take control of Capitol Hill, Trump insisted on promoting his allegations of mass voter fraud and said loyalists who had swarmed the seat of American democracy were “very special.”
“I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now,” he said. “We can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”
The video statement came more than an hour after protesters stormed the Capitol as lawmakers convened for a joint session to confirm the Electoral College results and affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
In a later tweet, Trump said: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”
Before Trump released the video, Republican lawmakers and former administration officials had begged the president to take more decisive action that would help quell the violence by his supporters. He had taken to Twitter earlier to ask backers to “remain peaceful,” but he did not call for them to disperse.
Trump spent most of the afternoon in his private dining room off the Oval Office watching the violence in Washington on a large mounted television, according to a White House official. But most of his attention was devoted toward ire at Vice President Mike Pence’s refusal to overturn the will of voters in the congressional electoral count, rather than the violent occupation of the Capitol by his supporters.
Trump reluctantly issued a pair of tweets and taped a video calling for an end to the violence at the insistence of staff, said the White House official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter and requested anonymity. The video was subsequently removed by Facebook, “because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence,” said the site’s head of integrity, Guy Rosen.