President Donald Trump conceded publicly for the first time Thursday that he will not serve a second term, stopping short of congratulating President-elect Joe Biden but acknowledging a transfer of power is now underway.
It appeared to end, for now, Trump’s false and corrosive attempt to overthrow the election results, which culminated in a violent attempt at insurrection at the US Capitol a day earlier. It did not reckon with Trump’s role in fomenting that violence, nor did it contain a vow to change his behaviour.
Trump’s comments in a prerecorded video amounted to as much of a concession as he is likely to offer before he departs the White House for good.
“A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20,” Trump said in the video, which was taped at the White House. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”
A White House adviser in discussions with senior officials said Trump recorded the video only because his presidency is threatened by looming resignations and potential impeachment.
“I think that video was done only because almost all his senior staff was about to resign, and impeachment is imminent,” the adviser said.
“That message and tone should have been relayed election night … not after people died,” the adviser added.
Trump’s recognition of his loss comes two months after the fact and amid growing calls for either his removal from office or a fresh impeachment. It also came as legal questions swirled about his culpability for inciting rioters who invaded the US Capitol a day earlier.
In the video, released more than 24 hours after Wednesday’s riot, Trump called for “healing and reconciliation” and said the country must move forward.
But he also misstated his role in activating the National Guard to combat his supporters who stormed the Capitol, who only a day earlier he had called “very special.”
Delivered in monotone and read from a teleprompter, Trump’s remarks bore little resemblance to those in the Wednesday spot, in which he told his rioting supporters, “We love you.”
CONTRAST BETWEEN RIOTERS, BLM PROTESTS ‘NIGHT AND DAY’
The Capitol was put on lockdown Wednesday after hundreds of Trump supporters broke through police lines and stormed the building, disrupting the Electoral College certification process and forcing the nation’s lawmakers to flee or take shelter. Trump has come under fire for encouraging crowds to head to the Capitol, inflaming tensions with another rally peddling baseless claims about voter fraud.
According to authorities, four people died in or around Capitol grounds, including a woman shot who later died in hospital, and the city’s mayor has extended a public emergency for 15 days. “Suspicious devices” were reportedly found at the Republican National Committee headquarters, which the FBI says it has now neutralised.
During last summer’s Black Lives Matter resurgence movements, which were staged across the world as a result of the deaths of George Floyd and the systemic racist structures that allow these devastating instances to have continued for so many years, the rhetoric of lawmakers and the response of law enforcement was vastly different.
President Donald Trump responded to the movements with violent rhetoric – ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ and referring to protesters as ‘criminals’ – and the National Guard was deployed along with a heavy police presence which carried and used batons, sprayed activists with tear gas and arrested journalists doing their job and reporting from the scene.
But, on Wednesday, with the Defence Department’s first reaction was to refuse the deployment of the guard, according to reports. A police officer even posed for a selfie with a rioter.
Cops are taking selfies with the terrorists. pic.twitter.com/EjkQ83h1p2— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 6, 2021
When Trump says he called out the national guard it cannot be ignored the difference in response to when he made a show of protecting Capital hill from Black Lives Matter protesters.
Here’s a look at the protests from last year, compared to those on Wednesday, January 6, 2021
National Guard troops were deployed to the Lincoln Memorial on June 2, 2020, during protests held in Washington, DC, over the death of George Floyd.
However, Wednesday’s protests, many pointed out, were different. The Black Lives Matter Global Network, one of the most well-known organizations fighting for the well-being of Black people, described Wednesday’s riots as a “coup.”The group said it was “one more example of the hypocrisy in our country’s law enforcement response to protest.
“When Black people protest for our lives, we are all too often met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas and battle helmets,” the group said in a statement. “Make no mistake, if the protesters were Black, we would have been tear gassed, battered, and perhaps shot.”
Hundreds of pro-Trump protesters on Wednesday stormed the Capitol and filled the steps of the building. In some images, officers could be seen deploying pepper spray. Tear gas was also deployed, but it’s not clear whether by protesters or police, and people wiped tears from their eyes while coughing.
June 2, 2020
Before Trump made his remarks at the Rose Garden last June, police near the White House released tear gas and fired rubber bullets at protesters in an effort to disperse the crowd for the President’s planned visit to the St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Earlier in the day, Trump had encouraged the nation’s governors to more aggressively target protesters in their states.
After speaking, Trump walked past protesters to the church for a photo-op.
January 6, 2021
Pro-Trump protesters pushed past metal fences and breached the US Capitol building, walking throughout the complex for several hours.
Trump had directed the National Guard to Washington along with “other federal protective services,” according to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. The entire DC National Guard was activated by the Department of Defense, according to the Pentagon.
June 3, 2020
Last June, protesters in Washington, DC, repeatedly faced tear gas. Many were detained. One protest led to 88 arrests.
By comparison, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said Wednesday evening that police have made 52 arrests — 26 of which were made on US Capitol grounds.
January 6, 2021
Trump supporters flooded the steps of the Capitol, as Congressional leaders evacuated the complex following a lockdown.
A federal law enforcement official told CNN that DC National Guard did not anticipate being used to protect federal facilities, and the Trump administration had decided earlier this week that would be the task of civilian law enforcement.
Far many onlookers it did seem like the US capital had been taken over by the 80’s pop group the Village People.
The most import question is how will America move on from this divide? After all, Trump may have conceded but his parting words on that address stated ‘Our incredible Journey is only just beginning’
CNN’s Leah Asmelash and Rashard Rose contributed to this report.