US President Donald Trump says the riots in Washington DC happened because his election victory was “unceremoniously and viciously stripped away” from him.
Supporters of Mr Trump stormed the Capitol Building earlier today, shortly after Congress began a joint session to formally count the results from the electoral college.
The rioters breached the barricades surrounding the building and clashed with police on its steps, eventually overwhelming law enforcement and forcing their way inside.
A woman shot during the carnage has died and a curfew is in place across the capital.
But Mr Trump refused to condemn the protesters, instead calling them “patriots” in a tweet this morning.
“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. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
The tweet was quickly remove from Twitter by the social media giant.
Earlier in a video posted to Twitter, Mr Trump has told protesters to “go home” after President-elect Joe Biden demanded he told the rioters to end the violence.
But in the minute long video on Twitter, Mr Trump still called the election he lost as fraudulent.
“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side,” he said.
“But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt.
“It’s a very tough period of time,” Mr Trump said in the video, but he wasn’t talking about the still surging coronavirus pandemic or the growing divisions in American society.
“There’s never been a time like this, where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us – from me, from you, from our country.
“This was a fraudulent election. But 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, you’ve seen what happens, you see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home, and go home in peace.”
TRUMP’S WORDS BEFORE RIOTS
US President Donald Trump said he will “never give up” and “never concede” in the 2020 presidential election in a chilling speech just before the chaos unfolded in the Capitol.
Mr Trump told supporters he vowed to “stop the steal” and renewed pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to “do the right thing” and decertify the results of the election.
The president spoke at the “Save America March” in Washington, DC ahead of a joint session of Congress to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Those proceedings have been disrupted as pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol building, sending it into lockdown and forcing Mr Pence to be evacuated.
Politicians have been ordered to hide under their desks as the armed standoff between police and Trump supporters continue.
In his speech earlier, Mr Trump said he did not want to see “our election victory stolen by radical left Democrats”.
“That’s what they’re doing, and stolen by the fake news media, that’s what they’ve done and what they’re doing,” Mr Trump said.
“We will never give up and never concede. We will stop the steal.”
The president touted the crowds of supporters who travelled to Washington for pro-Trump rallies across the city on Wednesday, local time, on the sidelines of the Electoral College certification in Congress.
“If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” Mr Trump said.
“All he has to do, this is from the No. 1, or certainly, one of the top constitutional lawyers in our country, he has the absolute right to do it.”
Mr Pence was set to preside over the joint session on Wednesday. The proceedings have been
“We are supposed to protect our country and support our Constitution,” Trump said. “States want to revote. The states got defrauded, they were given false information and now they want it back.”
He added: “All Pence has to do is send it back to the states … and we become president, and you are the happiest people.”
Mr Trump said Mr Pence acting “doesn’t take courage,” but “what takes courage is to do nothing.”
“And then we’re stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot, and we have to live with that for the next four years,” Mr Trump said, referring to his Democratic rival Joe Biden. “We’re not going to let that happen.”
The president, in recent hours, has increasingly put pressure on Mr Pence to intervene during the joint session, tweeting early on Wednesday: “Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”
The president said that if Mr Pence did not act, “I’m going to be very disappointed in you.”
The president has insisted that “states want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud,” adding that the “corrupt process never received legislative approval.”
“All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN,” Mr Trump tweeted.
The president, hours before, tweeted that if Mr Pence “comes through for us, we will win the presidency.”
“Many states want to decertify the mistake they made in certifying incorrect & even fraudulent numbers in a process NOT approved by their State Legislatures (which it must be.)
The president has said that he and Pence “are in total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act,” and has claimed that the election “was illegal.”
Mr Trump went on to say Mr Pence had “several options under the US Constitution.”
“He can decertify the results or send them back to the states for change and certification,” Mr Trump said. “He can also decertify the illegal and corrupt results and send them to the House of Representatives for the one vote-for-one state tabulation.”
A spokesman for Mr Pence declined to comment on the president’s latest tweets, but White House officials told Fox News on Tuesday that Mr Pence prepared to “follow the law,” saying that the vice president is “taking a very diligent and studious approach to his job tomorrow.”
“He has consulted at length with staff. He has gone through the Electoral Count Act several times,” an official said. “He has read legal opinions, met with the Senate parliamentarian and consulted with outside experts on the subject matter.”
But those officials add that “the vice president will follow the law,” and that he would act “with fidelity to the law and the Constitution.”
The president’s remarks also come just hours after the Georgia Senate runoffs, where Democrats are projected to pick up one — and possibly two — seats, which would hand them the majority in the US Senate.
The president went on to say that the Democrats “used the pandemic as a way of defrauding the people in a proper election.”
“After this, we’re going to walk down — I’ll be with you — we’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness,” Mr Trump said.
“You have to show strength and you have to be strong. The president told his supporters to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
Mr Trump also applauded Republicans — pointing to the more than 100 House GOP politicians who have said they will object to the certification of the election results on Wednesday during the joint session, and thanked the more than a dozen Republican senators who have committed to objecting to the certification of the election results by name.
Over the weekend, Repubican Senator Ted Cruz assembled a group of 11 Republican senators — Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Mike Braun of Indiana; as well as Senators-elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama — announcing that they would object to the certification of the Electoral College results unless there was an emergency, 10-day audit of the results by an electoral commission.
And last month, Republican Senator Josh Hawley was the first to say he would vote to object to the certification — specifically for Pennsylvania.
Fox News reported that now-former Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler would object to the certification of results from Georgia’s presidential race.
This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission.