WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump released a video Thursday night condemning those involved in the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. It was his most extensive comment since social media platforms cut him off a day earlier.
"America is and must always be a nation of law and order," Trump said. "The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy. To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay."
Trump also said after the tense 2020 election that "tempers must be cooled, and calm restored." Trump affirmed that Congress has certified President-elect Joe Biden's win and that a new administration would take over on Jan. 20. The concession was tacit -- he did not mention Biden by name and did not offer congratulations.
It was a sharp reversal of his comments Wednesday when he addressed thousands of supporters before the riot.
"We will never give up. We will never concede, it doesn't happen," Trump said Wednesday, continuing to push his unproven claim that the election was stolen.
In his Thursday message, Trump said his pursuit in the courts was aimed at protecting voting integrity.
"I continue to strongly believe that we must reform our election laws to verify the identity and eligibility of all voters and to insure faith and confidence in all future elections," Trump said.
Elections officials across the country and former members of his own administration have said for weeks there was no widespread election fraud on a scale that would overturn the results.
The president said Thursday his focus is now on ensuring a smooth and orderly transition.
"This moment calls for healing and reconciliation," he said, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. "We must revitalize the sacred bonds of love and loyalty that bind us together as one national family."
Trump finished by telling his supporters that "our incredible journey is only just beginning."
Trump did not address his role in inciting Wednesday's violence.