Outgoing US First Lady Melania Trump has made a swipe at President Donald Trump's supporters, saying she is "disappointed" and "disheartened" by the Capitol riot that rocked Washington DC last week.
In one of her most revealing statements of her four-year stint, Melania thanked the "millions" of Americans who had supported her and her husband and said it had been the "honour of my lifetime to serve as your First Lady".
She described the events at the US Capitol as "tragic" and hit back at "salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks and false misleading accusations on me".
What those accusations are is unclear, though she copped criticism on Friday after CNN revealed the First Lady was overseeing a photo shoot during the siege for a coffee-table book and appeared "disinterested" by the chaos gripping the country.
Her detachment in addressing the country was indicative of being "checked out", said another White House source, who added, "she just isn't in a place mentally or emotionally anymore where she wants to get involved", the publication reported.
Her former friend and adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff also slammed the First Lady, penning a scathing op-ed accusing her of standing by while the President destroyed America.
Trump hit back, claiming she was a target by people who are "looking to be relevant and have an agenda".
She said her "heart goes out to" those killed during the violent riot and that she is "disappointed and disheartened with what happened last week".
"This time is solely about healing our country and its citizens. It should not be used for personal gain.
"Our Nation must heal in a civil manner. Make no mistake about it, I absolutely condemn the violence that has occurred on our Nation's Capitol. Violence is never acceptable."
She called on all Americans "to take a moment, pause, and look at things from all perspectives".
"I implore people to stop the violence, never make assumptions based on the colour of a person's skin or use differing political ideologies as a basis for aggression and viciousness. We must listen to one another, focus on what unites us, and rise above what divides us.
"It is inspiring to see that so many have found a passion and enthusiasm in participating in an election, but we must not allow that passion to turn to violence. Our path forward is to come together, find our commonalities, and be the kind and strong people that I know we are."
Most importantly, she said: "I ask for healing, grace, understanding, and peace for our great Nation."
She spent much of the statement reflecting on the "terrible pandemic" Covid-19 and the devastating effect it has had on her country with her husband in charge.
"Like all of you, I have reflected on the past year and how the invisible enemy, Covid-19, swept across our beautiful country," she said in the statement, titled Our Path Forward.
"It is these defining moments that we will look back and tell our grandchildren that through empathy, strength, and determination, we were able to restore the promise of our future.
"Each of you are the backbone of this country. You are the people who continue to make the United States of America what it is, and who have the incredible responsibility of preparing our future generations to leave everything better than they found it."
The BBC's Washington Correspondent Gary O'Donoghue described her statement as an "independent voice being demonstrated here, making clear her view".
"They're strong words. She's a woman who shuns the limelight significantly for most of the time, she's kept her counsel pretty closely, there's been the occasional moment where she's come out from behind the curtain. This is one of them."
He noted the timing of Trump's statement, "particularly when her husband is under so much pressure".
"For her to come out and say this, she has in the past indicated perhaps she's not entirely on the same page as the President".
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, along with US Democrats, said they would push to remove Donald Trump from office during the final days of his administration after his supporters' violent attack on the Capitol, with some Republicans supporting the move.
The President could face a historic second impeachment before the January 20 inauguration of Democrat Joe Biden, at a time when the United States is hit by a surging pandemic, a flagging economy and searing division.
Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, said there would be a resolution calling for the Cabinet to remove Trump as unfit for office under the Constitution's 25th amendment.
In an interview with 60 Minutes US overnight, Pelosi described the President as "deranged, unhinged, and dangerous".
"We're only a number of days until we can be protected from him but he has done something so serious that there should be prosecution against him".
If Vice-President Mike Pence does not agree to invoke the amendment, "we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation" in the House, Pelosi said earlier.
"As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action."
Trump was already impeached once by the Democratic-controlled House in December 2019 for pressuring the Ukrainian president to dig up political dirt on Biden.
He was acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate.
Though time is running short, Democrats likely have the votes in the House to impeach Trump again and could draw increased Republican support for the move, AFP reports.
But they are unlikely to muster the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump in the 100-member Senate and remove him from office.