After inciting a mob of his angry supporters to attack the Capitol, President Donald Trump attempted to backtrack on Thursday night by posting a video of him woodenly acknowledging his electoral defeat and denouncing the violent insurrection-but he reportedly only did so in an attempt to avoid potentially being held legally accountable for the riot.
The New York Times reported that Trump did not want to make the speech at first and was only convinced to do it after White House Counsel Pat Cipollone warned him on Wednesday night that he could face a criminal investigation for actively encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol in a clash that left at least five people dead.
Only then did the President reluctantly agree to tape a video condemning his supporters’ attack even though he had privately enjoyed it, according to the Times. He had previously issued a statement praising the insurrections as “very special” and telling them “We love you.”
“The demonstrators who infiltrated the capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy,” Trump said in the new video while reading off a script. “To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country and to those who broke the law, you will pay.”
The President claimed that his “focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power” and that “this moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
He and the White House happened to post the video several hours after acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin left the door open for a potential criminal investigation into Trump.
“We are looking at all actors here, and anyone that had a role, if the evidence fits the element of a crime, they’re going to be charged,” Sherwin said.