Trump lashes out at impeachment effort, claims it's 'causing tremendous anger'

He told reporters his Wednesday speech has been called "totally appropriate."

January 12, 2021, 6:32 PM

President Donald Trump on Tuesday lashed out at the impeachment effort by House Democrats, claiming "it's causing tremendous anger" and "danger to our country."

"As far as this is concerned, we want no violence -- never violence," Trump said outside the White House before departing for Texas, facing reporters for the first time since his supporters rioted last Wednesday after he urged them to march on the Capitol. "On the impeachment, it’s really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it, and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing."

But days before, the president himself encouraged his supporters to head to the Capitol and "fight like hell," and once they were ransacking the building and threatening lawmakers' lives, he even praised them.

During a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border later Tuesday, the president had a threat for President-elect Joe Biden, warning that Democratic threats to use the 25th Amendment will “come back to haunt” him.

"Free speech is under assault like never before. The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me, but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes, 'Be careful what you wish for,'" he said. "The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country, and is causing tremendous anger and division and pain, far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the U.S.A., especially at this very tender time."

Trump has also tried to shift the blame for more potential violent protests, saying it was Democrats -- like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer -- who were "causing tremendous danger to our country," with their attempt to impeach him over his role in Wednesday's insurrection. In his brief remarks, he stopped short of issuing any sort of condemnation of his own supporters' actions.

"For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger," Trump said. "I want no violence."

Schumer responded, "What President Trump said this morning shows how despicable a president he is. He blamed the violence that he helped cause -- on others. ... What Trump did today blaming others for what he caused is a pathological technique used by the worst of dictators."

PHOTO: President Donald Trump talks to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Jan. 12, 2021, in Washington.
President Donald Trump talks to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Jan. 12, 2021, in Washington.
Gerald Herbert/AP

The president spoke to reporters again before boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, falsely saying that “everybody” said his speech at Wednesday’s rally "was totally appropriate.”

In reality, his remarks were widely criticized by those across the political spectrum, including those in his own party. His role in Wednesday's assault prompted House Democrats to push toward impeaching him for an unprecedented second time.

And the day before, House Minority Kevin McCarthy told his colleagues during a conference call that he and Trump spoke that day and that the president had privately acknowledged that he bore some responsibility for the riot, according to a Republican familiar with the comments.

On that same call, though, McCarthy said Trump baselessly blamed the insurrection on far-left antifa sympathizers rather than his own supporters, despite no evidence of any antifa involvement. The president himself encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol, and once they were attacking the building, called them "great patriots."

When a reporter asked, "What is your role in what happened at the Capitol? What is your personal responsibility?" he responded, "So, if you read my speech -- and many people have done it and I've seen it, both in the papers and in the media on television. It's been analyzed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.

"And if you look at what other people have said, politicians at a high level, about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle and various other--other places, that was a real problem, what they said. But they've analyzed my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence. And everybody, to the tee, thought it was totally appropriate."

PHOTO: President Donald Trump walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Jan. 12, 2021, in Washington.
President Donald Trump walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Jan. 12, 2021, in Washington.
Gerald Herbert/AP

He began his brief remarks to reporters by attacking “Big Tech” for being “dividing and divisive” after he was banned from their platforms.

“I think that Big Tech is doing a horrible thing for our country and to our country,” he said. “And I believe it’s going to be a catastrophic mistake for them. They're dividing and divisive, and they're showing something that I've been predicting for a long time. I've been predicting it for a long time, and people didn't act on it. But I think Big Tech has made a terrible mistake, and very very bad for our country.”

He said the tech industry’s approach “causes a lot of problems and a lot of danger” and “there’s always a counter-move when they do that.” He did not elaborate.

“And that's leading others to do the same thing,” he said. “And it causes a lot of problems and a lot of danger. Big mistake, they shouldn't be doing it. But there's always a counter-move when they do that. I've never seen such anger as I see right now, and that's a terrible thing. Terrible thing.”

ABC News' Benjamin Siegel, Mariam Khan and Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.

This report was featured in the Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

"Start Here" offers a straightforward look at the day's top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, the ABC News app or wherever you get your podcasts.

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