Trump slams bid to impeach him, rejects blame for Capitol storming

Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House on Jan 12, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump has emerged from isolation at the White House to deny responsibility for a mob of his supporters storming Congress and warn that his imminent impeachment is causing "tremendous anger".

Mr Trump made clear he takes no blame for the Jan 6 speech in which he urged supporters to march on Congress.

"They've analysed my speech in my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody to the tee just thought it was totally appropriate," Mr Trump said on Tuesday before flying to Texas.

He called his scheduled impeachment in the House of Representatives a "continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics".

He also warned that while "you have to always avoid violence", his supporters are furious. "I've never seen such anger as I've seen right now," he said.

Mr Trump now finds himself alone, shunned by former supporters, barred by social media, and facing the unprecedented stain of a second impeachment.

No longer able to use Twitter and Facebook - two platforms integral to his shock rise to power in 2016 - Mr Trump is, for the first time, struggling to shape the news message, following his censoring by Big Tech, which he called a "catastrophic mistake".

His trip to Alamo, where he will tout claims of success in building a US-Mexican border wall, was his first live public appearance since last week's chaotic events. This is not the same Alamo as the famous fortress in another part of Texas, but the trip still marks something of a last stand.

Ever since the Nov 3 election, Mr Trump has been obsessively pushing a lie that he, not Democrat Joe Biden, was the real winner. Last week, in a speech on the National Mall, he called on the crowd to go to Congress and "show strength".

Amped up on his rhetoric, the mob burst into Congress, fighting with police, damaging offices and forcing frightened lawmakers to briefly suspend a ceremony legally formalising Mr Biden's victory.

The crisis galvanised many of Mr Trump's former boosters in the corporate and sporting world to turn their backs.

According to Axios news, Mr Trump and Mr Kevin McCarthy - the top Republican in the House - had a stormy phone conversation on Tuesday in which Mr Trump continued to push his conspiracy theory that he was the true election winner. Mr McCarthy reportedly interrupted, telling him: "Stop it. It's over. The election is over."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2021, with the headline Trump slams bid to impeach him, rejects blame for Capitol storming. Subscribe