Earlier today, President Trump released a brief statement saying there must be “NO violence” at protests (Allahpundit mentioned it here). This afternoon the President released a five-minute video in which he expanded upon the earlier statement.
“I want to be very clear,” Trump said. “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.
“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 every I believe in and everything our movement stands for.”
“No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence,” Trump said. He continued, “No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag. 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.”
I think Trump is making an aspirational statement not a retrospective one. At least I hope so. He’s talking to people who want to continue being his supporters, making it clear that a repeat of last week is absolutely out. I don’t think he’s trying to literally claim that the people at the Capitol weren’t his supporters, though others have claimed that.
“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,” Trump said. He asked everyone who believed in his agenda to “help to promote peace.”
And then Trump came to the more practical point of his statement. “There has been reporting that additional demonstrations are being planned in the coming days, both here in Washington and across the country,” he said. He said people had a right to be heard but then repeated the statement issued earlier that there must be “no violence” and no breaking of the law.
So what to make of this. Well, it’s a solid statement ruling out political violence which is good. Will it make a difference? I think it will which is why I wish he’d said all of this just as clearly last week or last month. Maybe he thought it could be taken for granted but obviously that wasn’t the case.
I’m not sure this will get through to some of the Q people out there who seem to be lost in their own world of conspiracy theories. They may hear this and find some convenient way to dismiss it, i.e. Pence got to Trump! or the photos behind Trump are a signal! Maybe it won’t penetrate with everyone but I think the basic law and order message is an easy sell to most Trump supporters because most of them already believe it.
What’s still missing here is an acknowledgement of what the violence last week was about. People were trying to “stop the steal.” There are lots of people out there who are still very much convinced the election was stolen. Trump has spent weeks egging that on. It would have been good if he had said explicitly that Biden is the legitimate winner of the election and therefore deserves a peaceful transition. Instead of just condemning the violence, Trump could have tried to put an end to some of the anger that’s driving it. The fact that he didn’t do that here will suggest to a lot of people that he still doesn’t fully believe it.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 13, 2021