In an emotional video message with intimate references to his childhood in post-Nazi Austria, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger condemned the recent violence on Capitol Hill, and what he called President Donald’s Trump’s lies which incited the revolt.
"President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election, and of a fair election. He sought a coup by misleading people with lies," Schwarzenegger, the 73-year-old former actor who most notably played the role of the Terminator during his Hollywood career, said in a seven-minute video posted on social media Sunday.
"My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies, and I know where such lies lead,” said Schwarzenegger, a Republican.
Trump has maintained, without any evidence, that he won the Nov. 3 election. A mob of his supporters breached security on Capitol Hill Wednesday while Congress finalized the certification of rival Joe Biden’s victory. In a video to his supporters in the midst of the violence Wednesday, the president asked them to go home, but maintained that he had won.
Trump later issued a video in which he promised a smooth transition of power. A deputy White House press secretary tweeted Thursday that the White House and president condemned the violence.
Schwarzenegger warned Sunday that while Trump may become “irrelevant as an old tweet” after the inauguration, lawmakers, whom he criticized for their “spinelessness,” would have to be held accountable for their actions, and that laws would have to be passed so that Wednesday’s events could never happen again.
Schwarzenegger recounted stories of his Austrian childhood post-World War II, where his father and neighbors drank to excess in the aftermath of what he called “the most evil regime” in history.
Comparing the Nazis to the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a hate group, Schwarzenegger noted that many men in his childhood community were not "rabid anti-Semites or Nazis.”
"Many just went along, step-by-step, down the road," he said.
With a nod to his Hollywood career, Schwarzenegger picked up “Conan’s sword” - a prop used in his 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian,” as music swelled in the background.
“Here’s the thing about swords – the more you temper a sword, the stronger it becomes,” he said.
“Our democracy is like the steel of this sword – the more it is tempered, the stronger it becomes. Our democracy has been tempered by wars, injustices, and insurrections,” he said.
“I believe, as shaken as we are by the events of recent days, we will come out stronger because we now understand what can be lost,” the former governor said.
Schwarzenegger who has had presidential ambitions of his own, said in 2016 he would have run for president had he been born in America. But as a naturalized U.S. citizen, he's not eligible.
The White House had no comment on his video Sunday night.