Donald Trump took no responsibility yesterday for instigating a violent insurrection at the US Capitol last week.
Despite encouraging supp- orters to march on the building and praising them while they were carrying out the assault, he said: "People thought that what I said was totally appropriate."
He made the comments during his first appearance in public since the siege, which came as lawmakers were tallying Electoral College votes affirming president-elect Joe Biden's victory.
Trump was heading to Texas yesterday to campaign against illegal immigration as Congress appeared set to impeach him for the second time.
During the rampage through the halls of Congress, crowds called for vice president Mike Pence's lynching for his role in overseeing the vote count.
At least five people died, including a police officer.
In the days leading up to last Wednesday's certification vote, Trump encouraged his supp- orters to descend on Washington, promising a "wild" rally in support of his baseless claims of election fraud, despite his own administration's findings to the contrary.
Speaking for more than an hour to a crowd on the Ellipse, Trump encouraged supporters to "fight like hell" and suggested Republican lawmakers would need "more courage not to step up" and overturn the will of voters to grant him another term in office.
As Trump wrapped up, thousands of his supporters were already heading to the Capitol.
While the mob were still in the building and lawmakers sheltered in secure locations, Trump, at the urging of aides who were shocked by the violence, released a video seemingly excusing the events, saying of the rioters: "We love you. You're very special. Go home."
Speaking yesterday, he said the "real problem" was not his rhetoric, but the rhetoric that Democrats used to describe Black Lives Matter protests and violence in Seattle and Portland last summer.
Trump was headed to Alamo, near the US-Mexico border, the site of the 450th mile of the border wall his administration is building.
A few dozen Trump supporters rallied hours before his visit to the Rio Grande Valley near Harlingen airport, where he was scheduled to land.
They planned to stage a caravan of vehicles flying flags that support the president and far-right causes.
Four people interviewed yesterday morning all said they believed antifa and Black Lives Matter activists staged the Capitol riot, although federal authorities have uniformly identified far-right activists as responsible.
Two people said they still believed Trump would be inaugurated for a second term next week, even after Congress certified Biden's victory and courts at every level dismissed his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
"If he's able to see us, we hope it would encourage him and lift his spirits," said Sharon Katie Taylor, from Iowa."
Over the past four years, Trump and his administration have taken extreme and often unlawful action to try to curb illegal and legal immigration.
Their efforts were aided in his final year by the coronavirus pandemic, which ground international travel to a halt.
However, the number of people stopped while trying to cross the southern border il- legally has been creeping back up in recent months.
Biden has said he will halt construction of the border wall and take executive action where possible to reverse some of Trump's restrictions on legal immigration and asylum-seekers.
However, the president-elect and his aides have acknowledged the possibility of a new crisis at the border if they act too quickly.