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Merkel: Trump shares blame for US Capitol storming

January 7, 2021

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the violent scenes in Washington made her "angry and sad." But the fact lawmakers had returned to work was a "sign of hope."

Chancellor Angela Merkel
Merkel said Trump's failure to concede had created the atmosphere that led to the events seen in Washington DCImage: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance/dpa

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her shock Thursday after protesters stormed the US Capitol building demanding that the US election result be overturned.

"We all saw the unsettling pictures of the storming of the US Congress yesterday evening, and these images made me angry and also sad," Merkel told a meeting of conservatives.

Merkel said the president himself had to accept part responsibility for failing to concede.

"A ground rule of democracy is that after elections there are winners and losers. Both have their role to play with decency and responsibility so that democracy itself remains the winner."

"I regret very much that President Trump not acknowledged his defeat since November and also again not yesterday. Doubts about the election outcome were stirred and created the atmosphere that made the events of last night possible." 

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Canada
Merkel and Trump have not seen eye-to-eye on several occasionsImage: twitter.com/RegSprecher

How did other German politicians react?

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the pictures had been shocking but that democracy would triumph.

"These scenes we've seen are the result of lies and more lies, of divisiveness and contempt for democracy, of hatred and incitement — even from the very highest level," Steinmeier said.

"This is a historic turning point for the United States, and this is an attack on liberal democracy in general. "

"But I am certain: American democracy is stronger than this hatred. The institutions of democracy are more powerful than lies and incitement. "

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was among the first on Wednesday to say the images from Washington DC showed a contempt for democracy.

"The enemies of democracy will rejoice at these inconceivable images from #WashingtonDC," he tweeted. "Seditious words turn to violent actions — on the steps of the Reichstag, and now in the #Capitol. Contempt for democratic institutions has devastating effects."

"Trump and his supporters should finally accept the decision of the American voters and stop trampling democracy underfoot," Maas added.

German member of parliament Michael Link, from the business-friendly Free Democratic Party, told DW the events at the US Capitol should serve as a warning that democracy must be protected. But he also stressed that Germany should not point the finger, given that there had been similar mob scenes in Berlin, with anti-lockdown protesters attempting to storm the Bundestag building.

"We have these dangers in all countries," he said. "Yesterday's events in the US Capitol ... should serve as a wake-up call that we need to defend democracy wherever threats arise, including, of course, here back at home." 

What is Merkel's relationship with Trump like? 

Merkel had shown her skepticism toward Donald Trump from the beginning. As recently as last summer, she refused to travel to Florida for a G7 meeting. The coronavirus epidemic served as her explanation. But her cancellation was widely seen as a repudiation of Trump and his policies.

Relations between Germany and the United States became strained over the four years of Donald Trump's presidency.

Does Angela Merkel love the US? (E03)

Trump repeatedly criticized Germany over its defense spending, complaining that Berlin has failed to meet the NATO spending target of 2% of economic output.

Merkel and other German leaders are hoping for better communication channels and increased cooperation with Washington under Biden.

Richard Connor Reporting on stories from around the world, with a particular focus on Europe — especially Germany.