WASHINGTON: Members of the National Guard arrive at the US Capitol as Democratic members of the House prepare articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday.—Reuters
WASHINGTON: Members of the National Guard arrive at the US Capitol as Democratic members of the House prepare articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday.—Reuters

WASHINGTON: Presi­dent Donald Trump emerged from isolation at the White House on Tuesday to deny responsibility for a mob of his supporters storming Congress, and warning that his imminent impeachment was causing “tremendous anger”.

Trump — set on Wednesday (today) to become the first president in US history to be impeached for a second time — made it clear that he could take no blame for the January 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,” Trump said before flying to Texas.

Trump called his scheduled impeachment in the House of Representatives on Wednesday a “continuation of the greatest ‘witch hunt’ in the history of politics”. And he warned that while “you have to always avoid violence”, his supporters were furious.

“I’ve never seen such anger as I’ve seen right now,” he said.

With only eight days left in his one-term administration, Trump finds himself alone, shunned by former supporters, barred by social media, and now 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 — Trump is for the first time struggling to shape the news message, a censoring by Big Tech that he called a “catastrophic mistake”.

His trip to Alamo, Texas, aimed to tout claims of success in building a US-Mexican border wall, is his first live public appearance since last week’s chaotic events.

Ever since the November 3 election, the Republican real estate tycoon has been obsessively pushing a lie that he, not Democrat Joe Biden, was the real winner. Then last week, in a speech on the National Mall, he called on the huge crowd to go to Congress and “show strength”. Amped up on Trump’s rhetoric, the mob burst into Congress, fighting with police, trashing offices and forcing frightened lawmakers to suspend briefly a ceremony legally formalising Biden’s victory.

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

In the Republican party, which has been in thrall to the populist leader for four years, even ultra-loyal senior figures like Senator Lindsey Graham have finally told Trump that he must accept election defeat. The president, however, clearly remains in denial.

He has yet to congratulate Biden or urge his supporters to stand behind the incoming president after he is inaugurated on January 20 — a gesture of political unity considered all but routine after US elections.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2021

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