President Donald Trump returned from his forced Twitter hiatus on Thursday with a nearly three-minute video in which he finally condemned the violence his supporters carried out at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
“Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem,” he said. It was a far cry from the supportive messages he sent to the rioters acting in his name the day before, when he told them, “We love you, you’re very special.”
The outgoing president also acknowledged that “a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20,” the closest he’s come to conceding the election to President-elect Joe Biden. Trump said his months-long crusade to overturn the election results was merely an effort “to ensure the integrity of the vote.”
In the final moments of his recorded statement, Trump promised that this wouldn’t be the last Americans see of him.
“To all of my wonderful supporters, I know you are disappointed, but I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning,” he said.
Trump’s account had been suspended by Twitter for 12 hours after he posted a series of false and inflammatory tweets on Wednesday directed at his supporters who were violently storming the U.S. Capitol.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” read one of his tweets.
At least five people died in Wednesday’s violence, including a U.S Capitol Police officer. One woman was fatally shot by police and three other individuals died of apparent medical emergencies, officials said. Lawmakers, who had gathered to formally certify Biden’s election victory, were forced to take cover and later evacuated from the Capitol as a mob of Trump supporters entered the building and stalked the halls, looking for legislators.
“Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” Trump tweeted at the rioters.
Twitter blocked that tweet, along with two others, before finally suspending Trump’s account. The company said “future violations” of its rules would “result in permanent suspension” of the president’s account.
“Our public interest policy — which has guided our enforcement action in this area for years — ends where we believe the risk of harm is higher and/or more severe,” the company said.
A Twitter spokesperson said of Trump’s latest video: “As we shared yesterday, we’re continuing to evaluate the situation in real time, including examining activity on the ground and statements made off Twitter. We will keep the public informed, including if further escalation in our enforcement approach is necessary.”
Other social media platforms, including Facebook and Snapchat, took similar steps on Wednesday to limit Trump’s access to them.
On Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the unprecedented step of blocking the outgoing president on Facebook and Instagram “at least” through the end of his term.
“The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” Zuckerberg wrote in a statement.
He added that “the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
Ryan Grenoble contributed reporting.