Donald Trump slapped down in tense phone call
One of Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, has reportedly slapped down the President for claiming “Antifa people” were behind the Capitol riot.
Mr Trump made the allegation during a 30-minute phone call with Mr McCarthy yesterday, repeating a baseless theory that has been circulating on some right-wing conspiracy websites.
Axios reports the Republican Congressman “would have none of it”.
“It’s not Antifa. It’s MAGA. I know, I was there,” Mr McCarthy said.
The theory suggests Antifa activists infiltrated the crowd of Trump supporters and perpetrated acts of violence to make the President look bad.
It originated from a story published, and later retracted, by The Washington Times, which claimed a facial recognition company had matched people pictured during the riot to Antifa members.
The story was completely false. The company in question clarified that it actually identified members of neo-Nazi organisations, and a QAnon supporter.
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The Justice Department and FBI have found “no indication” that Antifa was involved.
Reporter Jonathan Swan said the phone call between Mr Trump and Mr McCarthy was “aggressive at times”, and the Minority Leader grew “exasperated” as Mr Trump repeated his debunked allegations about voter fraud.
“Stop it. It’s over. The election is over,” he told the President.
Meanwhile, a top Republican aide on Congress’s Armed Services Committee, Jason Schmid, has announced his resignation with a scathing letter slamming the politicians in his party who voted to toss out the electoral college results.
“The sad, incontrovertible truth is that the people who laid siege to the Capitol were and continue to be domestic enemies of the Constitution of the United States,” Mr Schmid wrote.
“A poisonous lie that the election was illegitimate and should be overturned inspired so-called ‘patriots’ to share common cause with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists to attack the seat of American government.”
The US President emerged from isolation at the White House overnight to deny responsibility for a mob of his supporters storming Congress, and warning that his imminent impeachment is causing “tremendous anger”.
Mr Trump – set to become the first president in US history impeached for a second time – made clear he takes no blame for the January 6 speech in which he urged supporters to march on Congress.
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“They’ve analysed my speech in my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody to the tee just thought it was totally appropriate,” Mr Trump said before flying to Texas.
The President called his scheduled impeachment in the House of Representatives on Wednesday a “continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics”. And he warned that while “you have to always avoid violence,” his supporters are furious.
“I’ve never seen such anger as I’ve seen right now,” he said.
With only eight days left in his one-term administration, Mr Trump finds himself alone, shunned by former supporters, barred by social media, and now facing the unprecedented stain of a second impeachment.
No longer able to use Twitter and Facebook – two platforms integral to his shock rise to power in 2016 – Mr Trump is for the first time struggling to shape the news message, a censoring by Big Tech that he called a “catastrophic mistake”.
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His trip to Alamo, Texas, where he will tout claims of success in building a US-Mexican border wall, is his first live public appearance since last week’s chaotic events.
This is not the same Alamo as the famous fortress in another part of Texas, but the trip still marks something of a last stand.
Then last week, in a speech on the National Mall, he called on the huge crowd to go to Congress and “show strength”.
Amped up on Mr Trump’s rhetoric, the mob burst into Congress, fighting with police, trashing offices and forcing frightened politicians to suspend briefly a ceremony legally formalising Biden’s victory.
The crisis galvanised many of Mr Trump’s former boosters in the corporate and sporting world to turn their backs.
In the Republican party, which has been in thrall to the populist leader for four years, even ultraloyal senior figures like Senator Lindsey Graham have finally told the President that he must accept election defeat.
Mr Trump, however, clearly remains in denial.
He has yet to congratulate Biden or urge his supporters to stand behind the incoming president after he is inaugurated on January 20 – a gesture of political unity considered all but routine after US elections.