In a video released Thursday night, President Donald Trump acknowledged that all avenues of his election challenge have been exhausted; he said he will commit to a "smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power."
He also condemned the "heinous attack" on the U.S. Capitol by some of his own supporters following a rally the previous day at which which he said he'd continue the fight.
"My campaign vigorously pursued every legal avenue to contest the election results," Trump said in a taped message from inside the White House. "My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote. In so doing, I was fighting to defend American democracy."
He said he still strongly believes election laws must be reformed to verify the identity and the eligibility of all voters and to ensure faith and confidence in all future elections.
"Now, Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th," Trump said. "My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power."
The words were in stark contrast to reports that the president was pressuring his own vice president, Mike Pence, not to certify the results — something Pence told the president he was constitutionally bound to do.
But in a much calmer tone Thursday than his Wednesday rally, Trump said, "This moment calls for healing and reconciliation."
He noted the pandemic has "upended the lives of our citizens, isolated millions in their homes, done damage to our economy, and claimed countless lives."
Defeating the pandemic will require working together and a "renewed emphasis on patriotism, faith, charity, and family," he said.
"We must revitalize the sacred vows of love and loyalty that bind us together as one national family. … To all of my wonderful supporters, I know you're disappointed, but I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning."
Trump began the speech addressing the attack on the Capitol, that was breached as lawmakers were certifying the election win for his Democratic rival, President-elect Joe Biden.
"Like all Americans, I'm outraged by the violence, lawlessness, and mayhem," Trump said, saying he "immediately" deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building.
"America is and must always be a nation of law and order. The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy," he said. "To those who engaged in acts of violence … you do not represent our country. To those who broke the law, you will pay. We've just been through an intense election and emotions are high. But now, tempers must be called and calm restored."
The video comes after Trump has been largely silent after a social media ban by Facebook, Twitter and others after he initially posted messages that appeared to excuse the rioters' actions.
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