Donald Trump accused of undermining US Constitution with tweet attacking 'unfair' protests against election victory

President-elect claims he 'loves' protesters hours after calling rallies 'very unfair'

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The Independent US

Donald Trump has abruptly changed his stance on continuing protests against his election after being accused of attacking Americans’ constitutional rights.

The President-elect called the demonstrations “unfair” on Thursday night, claiming the thousands of voters joining rallies across the US were incited by the media.

“Just had a very open and successful Presidential election,” the message said. “Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”

A demonstrator pleads others to stand back from the police line during a demonstration in Oakland (Stephen Lam/Reuters)

His remarks came on a second night of rallies in major cities including New York, Chicago and Portland, where police deployed rubber bullets and CS gas as the situation degenerated into rioting and vandalism.

Critics accused Mr Trump of undermining the first amendment of the US constitution, which protects freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to peaceful assembly.

“The man who will take an oath to defend the rights of all citizens is blasting people for exercising their rights to free speech and assembly,” tweeted Andrew Stroehlein, the European media director of Human Rights Watch.

“And note he is not talking about violence or rioting here. He is criticising the very idea of protesting itself.”

But nine hours after the original tweet, a new message was posted on the President-elect’s official account in a dramatically different tone.

“Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country,” it said. “We will all come together and be proud!”

The sentiment echoed remarks in Mr Trump’s victory speech on Wednesday, when he launched an uncharacteristic plea for unity following one of the most divisive campaigns in political history.

“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division…I say it is time for us to come together as one united people,” he told supporters including a man who appeared to shout “Kill Obama!”.

As polls predicted an emphatic victory for Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the vote, Mr Trump repeatedly suggested he would contest the election result and accused the system of being “rigged”.

Barack Obama said the Republican candidate was “undermining democracy” with comments questioning its legitimacy “without a shred of evidence”.

Mr Trump had called on Americans to “march on Washington” in 2012 to stop Mr Obama’s victory, calling for a revolution against the electoral system.

“We can't let this happen,” read a tweet posted on 7 November. “We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!”

But he has not repeated the sentiment following his own election victory, when the Electoral College system he once called a “disaster for democracy” allowed him to beat Ms Clinton despite her winning more votes.