President Donald Trump effectively conceded the presidential election Thursday evening, calling for calm and condemning the storming of the Capitol Building by his supporters—a rampage many blame him for inciting, which led to at least four deaths and which sparked increasing bipartisan calls that he be removed from office.
In a video posted on Twitter, Trump said his campaign pursued every legal avenue to contest the election results, but he conceded, without mentioning President-elect Joe Biden by name, that “a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20” and that his focus will be on “ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”
Still, the president said he “strongly believes we must continue to reform our election laws to verify the identity and eligibility of all voters,” a nod to the host of false conspiracy theories Trump has promoted about the election regarding fraudulent votes.
Trump said those who stormed the Capitol building “defiled the seat of American democracy,” adding that “emotions are high, but now tempers must be cooled and calm restored.”
Trump’s comments Thursday were a far cry from his statements Wednesday, when he said he “loved” the rioters and explained their behavior as “things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away.”
Trump has spent the last two months constantly claiming the election was stolen from him, citing a torrent of unfounded conspiracy theories about election fraud from fringe right-wing media. Every legal challenge the Trump campaign mounted against the results failed, but Trump and his supporters still had hope they could somehow derail Congress’ official certification of Biden’s win, which still succeeded. Lawmakers from both parties have blamed Trump’s election fraud rhetoric as the reason his supporters stormed the Capitol Building Wednesday, and many have called for his resignation because of his slow action to forcefully condemn them.
Trump was able to tweet the video message Thursday night because his 12 hour Twitter suspension expired. The social media company took its strongest action against the president to-date after he declined to strongly condemn the insurrectionists and continued to say the election was fraudulent.