The White House on Thursday condemned “in the strongest possible terms” a violent riot of US President Donald Trump’s supporters at the Capitol, but then quickly exited the briefing room, refusing shouted questions from journalists.
Spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that the violence “was appalling, reprehensible and antithetical to the American way.”
“It is unacceptable, and those that broke the law should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” McEnany said while reading aloud a prepared statement. “What we saw yesterday was a group of violent rioters undermining the legitimate First Amendment rights of the many thousands who came to peacefully have their voiced heard in our nation’s capital.”
As soon as she was done reading her statement, McEnany turned from the podium and exited the James Brady Press Briefing Room as reporters sought additional information.
Trump and his political allies have for months falsely alleged that the election he lost to Biden by 7 million votes was rigged, roiling emotions among his supporters with conspiracy theories that have been repeatedly rejected in court. The Justice Department also found no evidence to support his claims of widespread voter fraud.
Trump earlier Wednesday continued to incite his supporters’ passions during a rally just hours before the Capitol was overrun, telling them he would “never concede” defeat while alleging there was “theft involved.”
“Our country has had enough, and we will not take it anymore,” he told a mass gathering of people, many of whom likely later flooded the Capitol. “We will stop the steal.”
Four people died during the Capitol ransacking.
President-elect Joe Biden said the mayhem was a completely predictable result of Trump’s cajoling, as well as the entirety of his four-year term as it draws to an end.
“I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming. That isn’t true. We could see it coming,” he said. “The past four years we’ve had a president whose made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law, clear in everything he has done. He unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of our democracy from the outset.”
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