Following last week’s riots at the Capitol carried out by his supporters, President Donald Trump encouraged his backers to be peaceful in a prerecorded video statement released by the White House on Wednesday. The statement was released within hours of the House voting to impeach Trump for a second time, this time with 10 Republican members voting in favor.
Trump did not directly address the impeachment vote in his five-minute statement.
After urging peace among his supporters, Trump then condemned social media companies for banning his account. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other companies banned a number of accounts from posting following last week’s attack of the Capitol that left five dead. The social media organizations cited concerns that some social media posts were inciting a follow up attack.
Trump referred to the bans as an “unprecedented assault on free speech.”
“These are tense times and difficult times,” Trump said. “The efforts to censor, cancel and blacklist our fellow citizens are wrong and they are dangerous. What is needed now is to listen to one another, not to silence one another.”
Trump echoed law enforcement concerns over possible unrest between now and the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, through Trump has yet to refer to Biden directly as the president-elect. Trump said he has been briefed by the US Secret Service on potential threats.
“Everyone must follow our laws,” Trump said.
Twitter said it was working to limit the spread of posts about possible violent protests planned for January 17.
“Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021,” Twitter said late last week.
Trump added he asked his supporters to “ease tensions, calm tempers and help to promote peace in our country.”
“Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement,” Trump said. “Making America great again has always been about defending the rule of law.”