President Trump hadn’t spoken publicly since inciting a riot at the Capitol building last week. His Twitter was erased last Friday, so aside from a couple of recorded messages telling his insurrectionist supporters how special they are and half-assedly denouncing their violence, the last few days have been the quietest of Trump’s presidency as he privately steams about social media bans, PGA cancellations, and a second impeachment.
Trump broke his silence today, speaking in front of law enforcement at the border wall in Alamo, Texas. He announced plans for the speech toward the end of last week but apparently hadn’t been in contact with any Alamo city officials, who were “in the dark” about Trump’s visit and following news reports trying to figure out where he’d be. Before he boarded Air Force One for Texas, Trump spoke to reporters for the first time in a week, slamming Democrats for considering impeachment and repeating the Republican refrain that it would only cause danger and anger before meekly saying that he “wants no violence.”
"I think it's causing tremendous danger to our country and it's causing tremendous anger," President Trump said Tuesday morning of impeachment threat, adding, "I want no violence." pic.twitter.com/vLmyBD1CuU
— Josh Breslow (@JoshBreslowWKRN) January 12, 2021
Trump’s actual speech in Alamo wasn’t much better. He offered up another flat denunciation of the riot he incited before launching into a diatribe about the importance of border security, large groups of “unsavory” people just waiting to cross the border, and the bravery of U.S. border patrol officers and other law enforcement. He made brief mention of the 25th amendment and that it might come back to hurt Joe Biden, but other than that he mostly saved his vitriolic rhetoric for border crossers. The whole speech might’ve read as a vague threat and a signal to Trump supporters that the American border will no longer be safe once Biden takes office—but the whole display was so weak that it barely registered at all. Blasting the Village People’s YMCA at the end of Trump’s speech, as he’s been doing regularly at his rallies for months, felt like genuine comic relief.
Trump delivered a low energy speech, then bizarrely was serenaded off the stage by the thumping beat of "YMCA" (he didn't dance this time though) pic.twitter.com/hQUZrNoVVp
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 12, 2021
It’s no surprise to see Trump look and sound completely defeated. Losing his Twitter was surely one of the worst days of Trump’s life, and the social and legal retribution he could face for inciting the Capitol riot is enormous. The wind has clearly left his sails, and though he’s as unpredictable and desperate as ever, he doesn’t appear to have the energy to keep up whatever aimless fight he’s been playing at for the past couple of months.
That doesn’t mean violence in Washington, D.C. and other state capitols isn’t possible before, on, and even after Inauguration Day, or that Trump won’t try to use his presidential platform to continue encouraging it. But even if he does, he won’t have social media to tell his seditious supporters how special they are or fight back against the slanderous censorship of the fake news media. He’s a broken man running out the string, simultaneously weaker and strangely more dangerous than he’s ever been. There’s a decent chance he’ll appear again before he leaves office and an even better one that his supporters will act violently before he leaves. But if it turns out Tuesday in Alamo was his final speech as president, he certainly went out with a whimper.