Trump’s comments directly led to violent mob rioting on Capitol, says Patel

Sam Blewett and Tom Pilgrim, PA
·5-min read

Priti Patel has blamed Donald Trump’s incendiary comments for directly provoking violence from a mob loyal to the president when they stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election and prevent Joe Biden taking to the White House.

The Home Secretary urged the Republican to condemn their actions and said his statement in which he said “We love you” to the rioters and repeated his baseless claims of electoral fraud did “very little to de-escalate the situation”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for a “peaceful and orderly transfer of power” after supporters of the outgoing president breached barricades and staged an occupation of the home of American democracy in Washington DC on Wednesday.

The chaos raged after Mr Trump gave his fans a jolt into action in a rally outside the White House and urged them to march to the Capitol.

Protesters then clashed with police, one woman died after being shot, and three other people died after suffering “medical emergencies”, according to police chief Robert Contee.

As politicians from across the spectrum condemned Mr Trump in the aftermath, the president committed to “an orderly transition” on January 20 after Congress belatedly certified his Democratic challenger’s victory.

His concession was tweeted by his social media director because Twitter and Facebook temporarily suspended Mr Trump from posting after he published a video statement repeating falsehoods over the validity of the election and urged supporters to “go home” from the house of Congress as politicians met to confirm Mr Biden’s victory.

Ms Patel first accused the president of doing “very little to de-escalate the situation” and, during an interview with Sky News, called for him to “absolutely condemn everything that has taken place”.

But she went further in a subsequent appearance on BBC Breakfast to blame Mr Trump for fanning the flames and provoking the scenes that marred American democracy.

“His comments directly led to the violence and so far he has failed to condemn that violence and that is completely wrong,” the Home Secretary said.

“He basically has made a number of comments yesterday that helped to fuel that violence and he didn’t do anything to de-escalate that whatsoever.”

Her comments came after Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner called the Prime Minister “spineless” and said he and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab have to “take their fair share of shame”.

Mr Johnson stopped short of condemning Mr Trump and instead labelled the scenes “disgraceful”, and tweeted: “The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”

Ms Patel said it is time to look ahead to Mr Biden’s presidency rather than focus on whether the Government was too close to Mr Trump, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This isn’t about going back and reflecting on personal relationships.”

Mr Raab welcomed Congress being able to resume proceedings to certify Mr Biden as the next president, adding: “It sends an important message that the democratic will of the US people cannot be challenged or overturned by the actions of a violent minority.”

Kim Darroch, who was forced to stand down as ambassador to the US in 2019 after diplomatic cables he wrote criticising the Trump White House as “inept” and “dysfunctional” were leaked to the press, said the rioting was “appalling”.

“Some of us though have been pointing out for a long time,” Lord Darroch told Today, “this guy was not fit to be president, is not fit to be president, and he doesn’t respect any of the norms of presidential behaviour”.

Theresa May, who had a strained relationship with Mr Trump when she was prime minister, welcomed the certification of Mr Biden’s victory and said “there is no place for the rule of the mob” as she criticised the “disturbing scenes”.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle wrote to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to express his “solidarity” after she was among those evacuated from Congress.

“I am just so relieved you were not hurt, although I can only imagine how violated you must feel after having a protester at your desk,” the Commons Speaker wrote.

Labour demanded the Conservative Party takes action against Senedd member Andrew RT Davies and Susan Hall, the Tory group leader on the Greater London Assembly, after they drew comparisons between the assault on Congress and the campaign for another referendum on EU membership.

As protesters attacked the Capitol, both chambers of Congress were forced into recess as they debated the Electoral College vote that handed Mr Biden the presidency.

Mr Trump initially tweeted to ask his supporters to “remain peaceful” before posting a video asking protesters to “go home”.

But he also used the video to claim that the election was “fraudulent” and that he feels supporters’ “pain”.

“We love you. You’re very special,” he added.

Electoral College Protests
Violent protesters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol building on Wednesday (John Minchillo/AP)

Twitter removed the retweet, like and reply functions on the video post “due to a risk of violence”, before locking his account and demanding the removal of the clip and two other posts.

In the early hours of Thursday in DC, Mr Trump continued to dispute his opponent’s victory but committed to a peaceful transfer of power.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter by an aide.