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Pompeo stays in Trump's corner as some Republicans distance themselves

The secretary of state, who is thought to have political ambitions of his own, defended the president from his personal Twitter account on Saturday.
President Donald J. Trump
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a briefing in response to the coronavirus pandemic at The White House on April 8, 2020.Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — As some Republicans are distancing themselves from President Donald Trump after a violent mob of his supporters breached the U.S. Capitol, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came to the president's defense Saturday, criticizing Twitter's decision to ban his account.

"Silencing speech is dangerous. It’s un-American. Sadly, this isn’t a new tactic of the Left. They’ve worked to silence opposing voices for years. We cannot let them silence 75M Americans. This isn’t the CCP," Pompeo tweeted to his personal account.

Pompeo's comments come as some Republicans have called for Trump's removal from office and as a handful of White House staff and administration officials have resigned over Trump's role in inciting a mob to storm the Capitol and disrupt the peaceful transition of power.

The top arms control expert in the State Department resigned Friday in protest of the riots. Assistant Secretary Christopher Ford had already submitted his resignation letter to Trump the previous week as is traditional for political appointees during a change in administration with the intention to stay on until the end of the administration.

"I cannot continue to serve in an Administration at a time in which some are willing to condone, or even to incite, violent insurrection against the country I hold dear and whose Constitution I have taken a sacred oath to support and defend," Ford wrote in his resignation letter, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

Pompeo's comments also come as some extremist Trump supporters are threatening to return to Washington to disrupt President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.

Pompeo, who is responsible for representing American democracy around the world, has struck a noticeably different tone of his official Twitter account, where he condemned the "lawlessness and rioting" as unacceptable.

"Being the greatest country on earth is not just about our incredible economy & our strong military; it's about the values we project out into the world. I believe in America, and American goodness," he tweeted Friday on his official account.

World leaders, many of whom are used to U.S. lectures about orderly transitions of power, responded to the images of the Trump mob swarming the Capitol on Wednesday with shock. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the scenes in Washington "disgraceful."

Pompeo is widely thought to have political ambitions beyond his position in the Trump administration. He considered running for the U.S. Senate in 2020 from Kansas and, breaking with tradition for secretaries of state, he played an active role in campaigning for Trump in his re-election.

Some Republicans with presidential ambitions, including Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, have resisted condemning Trump's actions this week, as many in the party continue to believe that they cannot win without support from the president's loyal base.

Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account on Friday, citing "the risk of further incitement of violence."

The president’s account, with 88 million followers, was initially banned for 12 hours on Wednesday due to "severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy," after he used the platform to condemn Vice President Mike Pence as his supporters stormed the Capitol.

"After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence," the company said in a tweet.

Donald Trump Jr. called Twitter's decision to ban the president's personal account a "full frontal assault" of free speech.

"It's a sad day, when you're literally talking about losing free speech," he continued in a 9-minute video posted to his Facebook on Saturday.

More than 200 members of Congress are calling for President Donald Trump to be removed from office.

On Thursday Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., became the first Republican to say the 25th Amendment should be invoked while Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday that she wanted Trump to resign.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement on Friday that the House is prepared to move forward with articles of impeachment against Trump if he does not resign. The vote could come as early as the middle of next week, just days before the president's term expires.

"I don’t know what they are going to send over," said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn. speaking to Fox News. "And one of the things that I’m concerned about frankly is whether the House would completely politicize something.

"I do think the president committed impeachable offenses," said Toomey. "But I don’t know what is going to land on the Senate floor, if anything."