Michelle Obama chastised President Donald Trump over Wednesday's riots at the Capitol, calling him "infantile and unpatriotic" before delivering an emotional critique of how police responded to the mob as compared to this summer's Black Lives Matter protests.
In a statement posted to social media on Thursday, the former first lady said the riots were a "fulfillment of the wishes of an infantile and unpatriotic president who can't handle the truth of his own failures."
Trump supporters descended on the Capitol on Wednesday after the president delivered a speech at a rally against the election results, falsely claiming the election was stolen from him and encouraging the crowd to fight back. The march soon spiraled into chaos and bloodshed after a group of rioters breached the Capitol building, taking over the Senate chamber and forcing lawmakers and reporters to go into hiding. In response, Trump posted a video to social media repeating more election falsehoods and telling supporters, "We love you."
Obama also addressed the law enforcement response, which she suggested would have been far stronger if the rioters were Black. "What if these rioters had looked like the folks who go to Ebenezer Baptist Church every Sunday?" she said. "What would have been different?"
"Seeing the gulf between the responses to yesterday's riot and this summer's peaceful protests and the larger movement for racial justice is so painful," she added. "It hurts. ... in city after city, day after day, we saw cracked skulls and mass arrests, law enforcement pepper spraying its way through a peaceful demonstration for a presidential photo op."
Obama compared athletes kneeling during the national anthem, which Trump and his allies have loudly criticized as disrespectful to the flag, to Wednesday's "unpatriotic" scene, saying it "made it painfully clear that certain Americans are, in fact, allowed to denigrate the flag and symbols of our nation. They've just got to look the right way."
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Obama ended by saying, "even in the darkness, there are glimmers of hope." The path to recovery is not for any one person, politician or political party. But together, entering with "honest, unwavering love for our country," healing can begin.
Both Barack and Michelle Obama largely shied away from criticizing their successors during the beginning of the Trump presidency. As the 2020 campaign ramped up and Covid-19 ravaged the country, both began to speak out more strongly. During her speech at the Democratic National Convention, the former first lady called Trump "the wrong president for our country."
"He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head," she said. "He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us."