The 44th president said ‘we’d be kidding ourselves’ if the violence was treated as a ‘total surprise’ (Picture: Twitter/Getty)
The 44th president of the US described the events as a ‘moment of shame’ for the nation, but said ‘we’d be kidding ourselves’ if the riots were treated as a ‘total surprise’ given Trump’s prior behaviour.
Lawmakers are reportedly drawing up plans to invoke the 25th Amendment to end Trump’s presidency early, after he ordered thousands of his supporters to march to the Capitol and ‘get rid of the weak Congress people’ who were ratifying Joe Biden’s presidential win.
This morning, Vice-President Mike Pence formally declared Mr Biden the next US president paving the way for his inauguration on January 20, telling the pro-Trump mob ‘you didn’t win’.
All three other living presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have also condemned the siege, which lead to four deaths and the recovery of two bombs. Mr Obama blamed Mr Trump for allowing his supporters’ ‘fantasy narrative’ to spiral out of control, amid the president’s repeated yet unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.
In a Twitter statement, the former US president wrote: ‘History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation.
‘But we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise.
The former president condemned the riots and Mr Trump’s behaviour in a Twitter statement (Picture: The Office Of Barack Obama)
Rioters clash with police breaking into the Capitol building (Picture: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/REX)
‘For two months now, a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth – that this was not a particularly close election and that President-Elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20.
‘Their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo.’
He called on Republican leaders to make a choice that has been ‘made clear in the desecrated chambers of democracy’ – to follow Mr Trump’s lead and ‘keep stoking the raging fires’ or ‘choose reality’ to start ‘extinguishing the flames’.
Mr Obama however praised ‘honourable’ leaders in Georgia who have ‘refused to be intimidated’, after the Democrats yesterday declared victory in the battleground state.
After hours of violent clashes, the siege was eventually brought under control after the army activated over 1,000 troops of the National Guard – but the order reportedly came from Mr Pence rather than the president, who is said to have initially resisted the move.
Former Republican president Mr Bush also slammed the ‘reckless behaviour’ of political leaders – but did not mention by name the president, who is still refusing to accept the November 3 election result but confirmed he will step down.
Calling the siege a ‘sickening and heartbreaking sight’, the 43rd president said in a statement: ‘This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic.
‘I am appalled by the reckless behaviour of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement.
‘The violent assault on the Capitol – and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress – was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.
Pro-Trump rioters force their way through the hallway outside of the Senate chamber (Picture: AP)
‘Insurrection could do grave damage to our nation and reputation.’
Former Democratic president Mr Clinton also blamed Mr Trump and his allies in Congress for the violence he described as an ‘unprecedented assault on our Capitol, our Constitution, and our country’.
The 42nd president wrote on Twitter: ‘The assault was fueled by more than four years of poison politics spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in our system, and pitting Americans against one another.’
He continued: ‘The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost. The election was free, the count was fair, the result is final. We must complete the peaceful transfer of power our Constitution mandates.’
‘I have always believed that America is made up of good, decent people. I still do,’ he added.
Thousands descended on Capitol Hill to stop Mr Biden being declared the election winner (Picture: Reuters)
‘If that’s who we really are, we must reject today’s violence, turn the page, and move forward together—honoring our Constitution, remaining committed to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’
The 39th president Jimmy Carter also released a statement late on Wednesday night calling the unrest a ‘national tragedy’.
He added: ‘Having observed elections in troubled democracies worldwide, I know that we the people can unite to walk back from this precipice to peacefully uphold the laws of our nation, and we must.’
US officials from both sides and world leaders condemned the unrest, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who described the scenes as ‘disgraceful’ as they pleaded with him to end the unrest.
Mr Trump told his ‘very special supporters’ to ‘go home, we love you’ – but he refused to condemn the riot itself and continued to reinforce unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen.
Facebook and Twitter subsequently locked his accounts for the first time for inciting the violence, with the former saying a video posted by the president ‘contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.’
Four people, two men and two women, died in the unrest, including Trump supporter Ashli Babbit who was shot by police while storming the building.
The deaths of three others who died in the area around the Capitol, were not directly linked the violence but suffered ‘medical emergencies’, said Washington’s police chief Robert Contee.
A total of 52 people were arrested for curfew violations, unlawful entry and weapons charges. Of those, 26 were arrested on the grounds of the Capitol.
A police officer was seriously injured after he was pulled into a crowd and assaulted, said officials, while 13 other cops also suffered injuries.
Two pipe bombs were recovered near the Capitol – one at the Democratic Party offices and the other at Republican Party offices, said police.
After hours of clashes, the National Guard regained control of the building after establishing a perimeter around the site while authorities used flashbang grenades and tear gas in an attempt to clear those remaining inside.
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