US president Donald Trump has said the prospect of impeachment is causing “tremendous anger” in the nation but that he wants “no violence”.
House politicians are reconvening at the Capitol for the first time since the pro-Trump riot to vote on a resolution calling on vice president Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare the president unable to serve.
Mr Pence is not expected to take any such action. The House would next move swiftly to impeach Mr Trump.
The president spoke as he left for Texas to survey the border wall with Mexico. His remarks were his first to reporters since the Capitol attack.
Mr Trump defended his rally remarks to a protest crowd last week, saying “People thought that what I said was totally appropriate”.
On impeachment, Mr Trump said it is “a really terrible thing that they’re doing”. But he said: “We want no violence. Never violence.”
Mr Trump faces a single charge — “incitement of insurrection” — in the impeachment resolution that the House will begin debating on Wednesday, a week before Democrat Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated, on January 20.
The FBI has warned ominously of potential armed protests in Washington and many states by Trump loyalists ahead of Mr Biden’s inauguration.
The Washington Monument was closed to the public and the inauguration ceremony on the west steps of the Capitol will be off limits to the public.
A Capitol police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot a woman during the violence. Three others died in what authorities said were medical emergencies.
Late on Monday, the entire Congressional Hispanic Caucus, all 34 members, unanimously agreed to support impeachment, calling for Mr Trump’s immediate removal.
“It is clear that every moment Trump remains in office, America is at risk,” said a statement from the caucus, led by Representative Raul Ruiz. It said Mr Trump “must be held accountable” for his actions.
Mr Pence and Mr Trump met late on Monday for the first time since the Capitol attack, and had a “good conversation” pledging to continue working for the remainder of their terms, said a senior administration official.
Mr Pence has given no indication he would proceed with invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Mr Trump from office. No member of the Cabinet has publicly called for Mr Trump to be removed from office through the 25th Amendment process.
As security tightened, Mr Biden said Monday he was “not afraid” of taking the oath of office outside at the Capitol.
As for the rioters, Mr Biden said, “It is critically important that there’ll be a real serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage – that they be held accountable.”
Mr Biden said he has had conversations with senators ahead of a possible impeachment trial, which some have worried would cloud the opening days of his administration.
The work of the next four years must be the restoration of democracy and the recovery of respect for the rule of law, and the renewal of a politics that’s about solving problems — not stoking the flames of hate and chaos.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 11, 2021
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer was exploring ways to immediately convene the Senate for the trial as soon as the House acts, though Republican leader Mitch McConnell would need to agree.
The president-elect suggested splitting the Senate’s time, perhaps “go a half day on dealing with impeachment, a half day on getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate, as well as moving on the package” for more Covid relief.
As Congress resumes, many politicians may choose to vote by proxy rather than come to Washington, a process that was put in place last year to limit the health risks of travel.
Democrats say they have the votes for impeachment. The impeachment bill from Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California, Raskin of Maryland and Jerrold Nadler of New York draws from Mr Trump’s own false statements about his election defeat to Mr Biden.
Judges across the country, including some nominated by Mr Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases challenging the election results, and former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, has said there was no sign of widespread fraud.