On Wednesday, the U.S. and world reeled as some of outgoing President Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol building, forcing both houses of Congress to abruptly stop their work to formally certify President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory. Top government leaders were forced to flee for their safety as the president’s backers besieged the Capitol building — and Trump, once he spoke out, seemed to condone and excuse the rioters’ terroristic actions. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been in office for the entirety of Trump’s term, condemned Trump and the riots after the chaos unfolded.
On Thursday, at a virtual event held by Bavaria’s conservative CSU party in Germany, Merkel said that seeing footage of the violence left her “angry and sad,” adding as follows:
‘I deeply regret that President Trump has not conceded defeat since November, and again refused to do so yesterday. Doubts about the outcome of the election have been stoked, and that set the atmosphere which made the events of the [last] night possible. A basic rule of democracy is: After elections, there are winners and losers. Both have to play their roles with decency and a sense of responsibility, so that democracy itself remains the winner… The U.S. will open a new chapter in its democracy in less than two weeks.’
In a video message addressing the rioters, Trump said, “I know how you feel,” as if condoning their violent actions. He made a show of empathizing with violent terrorists, adding, in part, “We love you.” In a follow-up tweet, Trump insisted that “[these] are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” brazenly excusing the behavior of his supporters who stormed the Capitol building and put lives in danger. Twitter removed both of these messages and implemented a 12-hour lock on the president’s account.
Trump has faced steep criticism in the wake of the violence. Democratic members of Congress have raised prospects like another impeachment and the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which provides a mechanism by which incapacitated presidents can be removed from power. The amendment would require the formal certification by Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the president’s Cabinet members that the president is unfit for office. The amendment was originally intended to provide a mechanism for cases in which the president became physically incapacitated, but the function could also be used to deal with Trump’s pathologically delusional egomania.