President Donald Trump said in an address to the American people that serving as their commander-in-chief has been “the honor of my lifetime,” while encouraging his supporters to remain hopeful for American democracy.
“To the citizens of our country, serving as your president has been the honor of my lifetime,” Trump said in a brief video message released on Thursday evening. “And 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.”
This comes as Trump condemned the “violence” and “lawlessness” of the attack on the Capitol and promised to ensure an orderly transition of power to the upcoming administration led by President-elect Joe Biden. Congress certified the Electoral College votes for the former vice president in an emotionally-charged joint session that ended at around 3 a.m. on Thursday.
The media, lawmakers, former officials, and other critics have been criticizing Trump after a group of rioters and protestors waving American and Trump flags illegally stormed the Capitol building. The mayhem left at least four people dead—three for medical reasons after authorities released tear gas to disperse the crowds—and dozens of police officers injured, D.C. police said.
The president condemned the “heinous attack” by intruders on the Capitol, saying “the demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy.”
“To those who engaged in acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay.”
He acknowledged that, while “emotions are high” after an intense election, “thou tempers must be cool and calm restored. We must get on with the business of America.”
Trump said his only goal in challenging the 2020 election results since Nov. 3 was to protect the sanctity of the ballot box and defend American democracy.
“I continue to strongly believe that we must reform our election laws to verify the identity and eligibility of all voters, and to ensure faith and confidence in all future elections,” the president said.
The president and his team had pursued a series of challenges in the courts over concerns that allegedly “illegal” votes were cast and counted in several states due to what the campaign claims were unconstitutional last-minute changes to state election laws and alleged election fraud.
Although a slew of evidence was released in recent weeks in the form of sworn affidavits and expert testimony, the claims were repeatedly denied by ruling election officials and some lawmakers. Trump’s critics and most members of legacy media have also characterized the claims as “baseless.”
Meanwhile, a large proportion of cases filed by the Trump campaign, Trump allies, and numerous independent watchdog groups have been thrown out by judges for procedural reasons, including by the U.S. Supreme Court. Judges in several cases have also said that they have not been convinced by the allegations brought forward by Trump’s team.
The president’s concerns over election integrity have been shared by a number of experts and lawmakers, and a Reuters/Ipsos poll from November shows that 39 percent of Americans strongly agree or somewhat agree that the 2020 election was “rigged,” while 54 percent said they strongly disagreed or somewhat disagreed with the statement.