WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - US President Donald Trump told violent protesters who stormed the US Capitol to "go home now", hours after they marched on the Capitol at his urging and stormed the building, disrupting congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
"I know your pain, I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side," Trump said, repeating false claims about his defeat in a recorded video released on Wednesday (Jan 6). "But you have to go home now. We have to have peace, we have to have law and order."
He said nothing suggesting that the protesters had been wrong to invade the Capitol building.
Trump had asked them to refrain from violence in earlier tweets on Wednesday afternoon but stopped short of telling them to leave the building, where they forced lawmakers to flee and brought a halt to the official count of Electoral College votes.
"This was a fraudulent election, but we can't play into the hands of these people," Trump said in his video. "We have to have peace. So go home, we love you, you're very special, you've seen what happens, you've seen 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."
Earlier in the day, the president held a rally near the White House, where he repeated his false claims that his loss to Joe Biden was due to vote fraud.
At the rally, Trump encouraged protesters to go to the Capitol and support members of Congress who planned to object to some Electoral College votes.
He also tweeted that Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the certification, "didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution".
Pence, who evacuated from the Senate chamber as protesters broke into the Capitol, vowed that they would be prosecuted.
Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and a senior adviser, deleted a tweet that asked the protesters to refrain from violence but called them "patriots".
A handful of Trump's former top aides, including his former Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former communications director Alyssa Farah, implored Trump on Twitter to condemn the violence and speak more directly to his followers to de-escalate their invasion of the Capitol.
"The President's tweet is not enough. He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home," Mulvaney wrote on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.
Senator Ted Cruz, one of Trump's fiercest supporters on Capitol Hill who is leading a group of lawmakers to contest Biden's victory, also called on protesters to stop.
"Those storming the Capitol need to stop NOW. The Constitution protects peaceful protest, but violence - from Left or Right - is ALWAYS wrong," Cruz tweeted.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a tweet that Trump had deployed the National Guard following appeals from Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.