Using an official White House account to slip through Big Tech’s blockade, President Donald Trump released a video speech Wednesday condemning violence and reminding his supporters that true Americans do not attack their fellow citizens even in the white-hot heat of political disagreement.
It was Trump’s first successful direct communication on Twitter since the social media giant permanently suspended his account and blocked tweets from his official @POTUS account.
Even as the president called for unity, some questioned why he was allowed to do so. Twitter indicated to NBC News that Trump’s efforts to communicate despite the ban slapped on him was not “evasion” under the platform’s rules.
“… demonstrably engage in ban evasion or share content that otherwise violates the Twitter Rules.” (2/2)
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) January 14, 2021
In his somber message, Trump condemned the violence at the Capitol and urged anyone planning future violence to drop the idea.
“The incursion of the US Capitol struck at the very heart of our Republic. It angered and appalled millions of Americans across the political spectrum. I want to be very clear, I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement,” Trump said.
Trump said attacking law enforcement — at the Capitol or anywhere else — is outside the bounds of his movement.
“Making America Great Again has always been about defending the rule of law, supporting the men and women of law enforcement and upholding our nation’s most sacred traditions and values. Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for,” he said.
The address came on the same day the House voted to impeach Trump, claiming that his words and actions last Wednesday fueled the Capitol incursion.
Trump indicated that respect for America is a hallmark of everything he stands for, and said his supporters must live out that precept.
— The White House 45 Archived (@WhiteHouse45) January 13, 2021
“No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence. No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag,” Trump said. “No true supporter of mine could ever threaten or harass their fellow Americans. If you do any of these things, you are not supporting our movement. You are attacking it and you are attacking our country. We cannot tolerate it.”
The president noted that Americans have seen “political violence spiral out of control.”
“We have seen too many riots, too many mobs, too many acts of intimidation and destruction. It must stop. Whether you are on the right or on the left, a Democrat or a Republican, there is never a justification for violence, no excuses, no exceptions. America is a nation of laws. Those who engaged in the attacks last week will be brought to justice,” he said.
Trump then responded to reports that violence could mar the coming week as President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
“Now I am asking everyone who has ever believed in our agenda to be thinking of ways to ease tensions, calm tempers, and help to promote peace in our country,” he said.
“There has been reporting that additional demonstrations are being planned in the coming days, both here in Washington and across the country. I have been briefed by the U.S. Secret Service on the potential threats.
“Every American deserves to have their voice heard in a respectful and peaceful way. That is your First Amendment Right. But I cannot emphasize that there must be no violence, no law-breaking and no vandalism of any kind.”
Trump said that most Americans want a united, peaceful nation, as he does.
“Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol last week. I want to thank the hundreds of millions of incredible American citizens who have responded to this moment with calm, moderation and grace. We will get through this challenge just like we always do,” Trump said.
In the aftermath of Big Tech actions that banished him from social media platforms and muzzled conservative voices, Trump said America is a nation built on dialogue, not censorship
“I also want to say a few words about the unprecedented assault on free speech we have seen in recent days. These are tense and difficult times. The efforts to censor, cancel and blacklist our fellow citizens are wrong and they are dangerous,” he said.
“What is needed now is for us to listen to one another, not to silence one another. All of us can choose by our actions to rise above the rancor and find common ground and shared purpose. We must focus on advancing the interests of the whole nation, delivering the miracle vaccines, defeating the pandemic, rebuilding the economy, protecting our national security and upholding the rule of law.”
Trump closed by issuing a call for unity.
“Today, I am calling on all Americans to overcome the passions of the moment and join together as one American people. Let us choose to move forward united for the good of our families, our communities, and our country. Thank you. God bless you and God bless America,” he said.