USA TODAY US Edition

Trump re­fuses to take blame for at­tack

In Texas, pres­i­dent says it’s time for US to ‘heal’

- David Jack­son

WASHINGTON – Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­peat­edly re­fused Tues­day to take any re­spon­si­bil­ity for last week’s vi­o­lence at the U.S. Capi­tol as House mem­bers moved to im­peach him for al­legedly in­cit­ing a riot by sup­port­ers that struck at the heart of democ­racy.

Be­fore and dur­ing a brief im­mi­gra­tion speech in South Texas, Trump ar­gued that im­peach­ment and calls for his re­moval from of­fice are di­vi­sive and that his an­gry com­ments to sup­port­ers be­fore the in­sur­rec­tion at the Capi­tol were “to­tally ap­pro­pri­ate.”

In Alamo, Texas, near a sec­tion of wall along the U.S.-Mex­i­can bor­der, Trump spoke only briefly about the at­tack on the Capi­tol, say­ing “we be­lieve in the rule of law,” and it is time for the na­tion “to heal.”

The im­peach­ment drive is “caus­ing tremen­dous anger and divi­sion,” Trump said.

He said calls to re­move him from of­fice via the 25th Amend­ment of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion would come back to haunt in­com­ing Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Bi­den and the Democrats.

“As the ex­pres­sion goes, be care­ful what you wish for,” he said dur­ing the 22-minute speech.

Trump’s lack of con­tri­tion was not sur­pris­ing to many and in­spired more calls for his re­moval be­fore his term ex­pires at noon Jan. 20.

Since the ri­ots last week, Trump has faced bi­par­ti­san con­dem­na­tion. Tues­day, Sen. Rob Port­man, R-Ohio, called on Trump to “ex­plic­itly urge his sup­port­ers to re­main peace­ful and re­frain from vi­o­lence.”

“If our na­tion ex­pe­ri­ences ad­di­tional vi­o­lence and de­struc­tion at the hands of his sup­port­ers in Washington DC and state capi­tols around the coun­try, and he does not di­rectly and un­am­bigu­ously speak out now when threats are known, he will bear re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Port­man said in a state­ment.

Se­nate Demo­cratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called Trump “de­spi­ca­ble” and said the pres­i­dent blames others for vi­o­lence he in­spired. Schumer said Tues­day the pres­i­dent em­ploys “a patho­log­i­cal tech­nique used by the worst of dic­ta­tors.”

“Don­ald Trump should not hold of­fice one day longer,” Schumer said.

At­tor­ney Ge­orge Con­way, co-founder of the anti-Trump group Project Lin­coln, said Trump’s dis­avowal of re­spon­si­bil­ity may en­cour­age sup­port­ers to rebel against the Bi­den pres­i­dency.

“Clas­sic patho­log­i­cally nar­cis­sis­tic re­sponse,” Con­way tweeted.

Af­ter a brief tour of sec­tions of the new wall along the U.S.-Mex­i­can bor­der, Trump gave a speech brag­ging about the con­struc­tion of about 450 miles of bor­der bar­ri­ers.

Sound­ing vale­dic­tory at times, Trump de­fended his han­dling of the COVID-19 pan­demic that has killed al­most 380,000 peo­ple in the USA.

Be­fore the speech, a PA blasted songs heard at Trump po­lit­i­cal ral­lies, from “Bil­lie Jean” to “For­tu­nate Son.” The pres­i­dent signed a “Don­ald Trump” plaque mounted at the bot­tom of the wall.

Fall­out from deadly riot con­tin­ues

The in­sur­rec­tion at the Capi­tol has left raw nerves in Washington af­ter the mob threat­ened law­mak­ers who voted to con­firm Bi­den’s vic­tory in the Elec­toral Col­lege.

The riot left five peo­ple dead, in­clud­ing a Capi­tol Po­lice of­fi­cer. Fear­ing more vi­o­lence, po­lice stepped up se­cu­rity in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal head­ing into next week’s in­au­gu­ra­tion of Bi­den, and the city is start­ing to re­sem­ble an armed camp.

If ap­proved in the House, an im­peach­ment case against Trump would go to the Se­nate for trial, per­haps af­ter Trump leaves of­fice next week.

The House im­peached Trump in 2019 over a phone call in which he pres­sured the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine to in­ves­ti­gate Bi­den and mem­bers of his fam­ily.

The Repub­li­can-led Se­nate ac­quit­ted Trump in early 2020.

As he de­parted the White House for his Texas trip, Trump said the im­peach­ment move is “caus­ing tremen­dous dan­ger to our county, and it’s caus­ing tremen­dous anger.” He said, “I want no vi­o­lence.”

Be­fore board­ing Air Force One, Trump de­fended his com­ments to sup­port­ers at a rally right be­fore the in­va­sion of the Capi­tol. “It’s been an­a­lyzed, and peo­ple thought that what I said was to­tally ap­pro­pri­ate,” he said.

At the rally that pre­ceded the vi­o­lence at the Capi­tol on Jan. 6, Trump re­peated un­sub­stan­ti­ated ac­cu­sa­tions about the ve­rac­ity of Bi­den’s elec­tion.

Trump told sup­port­ers, “You’ll never take back our coun­try with weak­ness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

He said, “We will never give up. We will never con­cede.”

Trump tries to turn fo­cus

Away from the anger in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, Trump de­voted most of his Texas speech to im­mi­gra­tion and the bor­der wall, what he con­sid­ers cor­ner­stones of his sin­gle term in of­fice.

Trump spoke in Alamo – not the mis­sion where a well-known bat­tle be­tween Tex­ans and the Mex­i­can army was fought in 1836, which is about 250 miles away in San An­to­nio.

This Alamo is a small town near the Mex­i­can bor­der.

Trump’s visit caught the city un­aware. As late as Mon­day af­ter­noon, a state­ment on the city’s web­site said of­fi­cials had “NOT been of­fi­cially con­tacted re­gard­ing this visit and there­fore, have NO DE­TAILS re­gard­ing his itin­er­ary.”

David La­pan, a for­mer spokesman for Trump’s De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, called the Texas event “ridicu­lous.”

“Was this an of­fi­cial visit or a rally,” he asked, “with law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and the wall as props?”

The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union greeted Trump’s trip to South Texas with an an­nounce­ment it had filed a brief in a Supreme Court case seek­ing re­moval of the wall. The ACLU said Trump used fed­eral funds il­le­gally for wall con­struc­tion.

Dror Ladin, staff at­tor­ney with the ACLU’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Project, said Trump’s “van­ity wall will go down in his­tory as yet an­other ex­am­ple of this ad­min­is­tra­tion’s law­less­ness and xeno­pho­bia.”

This por­tion of the bor­der in Texas’ Rio Grande Val­ley is the busiest cor­ri­dor for hu­man smug­gling among nine sec­tors mon­i­tored by Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion.

The Rio Grande Val­ley is a ma­jor fo­cus of bor­der wall con­struc­tion.

CBP has not pub­licly dis­closed how many miles of wall have been built, though there are at least 17 miles of con­struc­tion in the Rio Grande Val­ley sec­tor.

Op­po­nents said Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies – par­tic­u­larly sepa­ra­tions of chil­dren and par­ents who en­tered the USA il­le­gally – sym­bol­ize his pol­i­tics of divi­sion.

“In a week where we’ve seen the dan­gers of Trump­ism and Trump’s in­cen­di­ary rhetoric, Don­ald Trump is go­ing back to his most danger­ous and hate­filled play­book,” said Gil­berto Hi­no­josa, chair of the Texas Demo­cratic Party.

Mem­bers of both par­ties said that if Trump won’t re­sign, he should stay in Washington and pay at­ten­tion to press­ing is­sues, in­clud­ing prob­lems with the dis­tri­bu­tion of vac­cines to bat­tle the COVID-19 pan­demic.

Douglas Heye, a Repub­li­can strate­gist, said, “Trump has never ac­cepted blame for any­thing in his life” and won’t start now.

“As in­sane as it is to say, an in­sur­rec­tion in the United States Capi­tol in his wan­ing days as pres­i­dent was not go­ing to change that,” Heye said.

Trump’s lat­est com­ments should make it clear to Repub­li­cans and others that he “will never turn the vol­ume down, he only wants to turn it up,” Heye said.

“And the state of the coun­try, or the party, just does not mat­ter to him.”

 ?? ALEX BRAN­DON/AP ?? Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tours a sec­tion of the U.S.-Mex­i­can bor­der wall Tues­day in Alamo, Texas.
ALEX BRAN­DON/AP Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tours a sec­tion of the U.S.-Mex­i­can bor­der wall Tues­day in Alamo, Texas.

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