President Donald Trump on Tuesday has made his first public appearances since a mob of his supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. The president made a trip to Alamo, Texas, to pay tribute to his border wall, a vanity project which today languishes unfinished at great cost to taxpayers.
The outgoing president reportedly agreed to the trip after aides advised him to use the final days of his term to showcase his achievements, a period that Trump has dedicated entirely to a futile quest to undo his election defeat, an effort that has led to a deadly attempted insurrection and most likely an unprecedented second impeachment.
Trump, emerging from White House seclusion to take questions on his way to Marine One, defended his remarks ahead of the Jan. 6 riot as “totally appropriate” and threatened Democratic leaders that the impeachment, formally charged on Monday, was causing “tremendous danger.”
“As far as this is concerned, we want no violence — never violence,” the commander in chief said. “On the impeachment, it’s really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it, and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing.”
“For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger,” he added. “I want no violence.”
A Capitol Police officer died after being beaten over the head in the riot, and law enforcement shot one woman dead after she tried to breach the House chamber. Three other people died in what authorities described as medical emergencies, and on Sunday another Capitol Police officer took his own life, allegedly in connection to the violence.
As of the morning of the president’s trip, officials in the small South Texas city of Alamo, just east of McAllen, said they still had not received any information about Trump’s agenda, even though the White House announced the trip last week. City Manager Robert Salinas wrote in a press release that the city still had “no details.”
“Information is being circulated that appears to indicate President Trump will be making his way to the City of Alamo during his visit to the Rio Grande Valley,” Salinas said, adding that the city “has NOT been officially contacted” and has “NO DETAILS regarding his itinerary.”
“As you can see we cannot comment any further,” Salinas added.
The White House said over the weekend that the farewell visit offered Trump the chance to “mark the completion of more than 400 miles of border wall — a promise made, promise kept — and his Administration’s efforts to reform our broken immigration system.”
Those 400 miles include construction where prior presidents had already installed barriers. In some places, border-crossers have entered the country by sawing through the multibillion-dollar structure’s metal bollards, which earlier this year Trump demanded be painted black, an unnecessary measure with an additional cost between $500 million and $3 billion.
The border wall, which Trump repeatedly promised would be funded by Mexico — a lie he told voters as recently as last October — has so far cost taxpayers $11 billion, making it the most expensive such structure in the world. The funding created a political rift that at one point led Trump to shut down the government for a month in 2019, after which he sought to appropriate money from the defense budget, a plan that itself was met with bipartisan backlash. Trump sought earlier this year to divert $3.6 billion to the project from the military construction budget, but in October a federal appeals court ruled against him. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.
Last month a federal judge unsealed a court filing in which two whistleblowers accused Pentagon contractors of smuggling armed Mexican guards into the U.S., an operation footed by American taxpayers.
Texas city officials say White House never contacted them about Trump’s border wall visit The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Salon.