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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - “We are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue,” President Donald Trump exhorted his screaming supporters before they marched on the U.S. Capitol last week, saying he’d go with them. He did not – and what unfolded was a deadly breach of the citadel of American democracy that has left Trump’s world crumbling in the final days of his presidency.
Trump had wanted to join the thousands of hardcore followers who assembled at Capitol Hill on Jan. 6. He told aides in the days leading up to the rally that he planned to accompany them to demonstrate his ire at Congress as it moved to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s November election victory.
But the Secret Service kept warning him that agents could not guarantee his safety if he went ahead, according to two people familiar with the matter. Trump relented and instead hunkered down at the White House to watch television images of the mob rioting he is accused of triggering.
The storming of the U.S. Capitol left five people dead, including a police officer, and threatened the lives of Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress, deeply wounding what remained of Trump’s presidency ahead of Biden’s swearing-in on Jan. 20.
Trump’s fiery, grievance-filled speech from the Ellipse park on the southern outskirts of the White House was a central focus of this week’s hastily arranged proceedings in the House of Representatives that led to his impeachment on a charge of inciting insurrection.
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