'President Trump, step up': Biden calls on Trump to rebuke Capitol rioters

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President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday demanded that President Donald Trump go on national TV to call off the rioters who have stormed the U.S. Capitol.

“I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of the democracy to go forward,” Biden said as armed rioters caused the Capitol to go into lockdown. “The words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is.”

“At their best the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite,” Biden continued. “Therefore, I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the constitution and demand an end to this siege.”

Biden characterized the acts of the rioters, who stormed past police barricades and into the Capitol to disrupt Congress’ count of the Electoral College votes, as bordering on sedition. Members of Congress, staffers and journalists were evacuated or ordered to shelter in place as rioters entered restricted areas, including the floor of the Senate. Capitol police entered armed standoffs with rioters, and tear gas was deployed in parts of the building.

Though Trump’s Twitter account had issued a handful of tweets calling for peaceful protests, the president took over two hours to tell his supporters to stand down in a brief Twitter video, even as his own allies in Congress took cover underground in the Capitol compound. Democrats and Republicans alike had urged the president to tell the rioters to leave the Capitol from shortly after they first breached the perimeter.

In his Twitter statement, Trump lauded the rioters as “special,” telling them that “we love you.” He also doubled down on his false claims that the election was stolen from him before asking rioters to go home. He followed up with another tweet: “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. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Later Wednesday evening, Trump’s posts were no longer available on his Twitter feed.

Biden had initially planned to address reporters on Wednesday after a briefing on the state of the economy. But the president-elect delayed his address as the storming of the Capitol unfolded.

He took the lectern and said in a somber tone: “At this hour our democracy is under unprecedented assault. Unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times. Assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself.”

Biden lamented the Capitol scene as antithetical to the example of democracy he said the United States has striven to be in the world.

The rioters broke into the Capitol as members of Congress met for the final procedural step in cementing Biden’s electoral win. Counting the Electoral College votes is normally a largely symbolic gesture, but Trump and several of his congressional allies hoped to contest the results during the count.

Biden said the certification was a “sacred ritual in which we affirm the majesty of American democracy,” before adding that the day’s events were “a reminder, a painful one, that democracy is fragile.”

He drew a distinction between the scenes of violence at the Capitol and the constitutional right to protest. He said the rioters were partaking in insurrection and that “the world is watching.”

Still, Biden carried over his messaging of perseverance and unity that has guided his public appearances from the campaign trail to the transition. He said the country could overcome the violence and undemocratic chicaneries that have loomed over the election and its aftermath if Americans came together in a commitment to uphold the country’s values.

“There has never been anything we can’t do when we do it together,” Biden said. “And this God-awful display today is bringing home to every Republican, Democrat, and Independent in the nation that we must step up.”

“So, President Trump,” he continued. “Step up.”

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