Former President Donald Trump on Sunday widely praised those who attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the insurrection at the Capitol, repeatedly using the word “love” to describe the tone of the event.
Echoing his rhetoric about the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Trump said, “These were peaceful people, these were great people.”
Speaking on “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo” on the Fox News Channel, he also said the rally participants were patriots, that some of them were unjustly arrested and jailed, and that a woman who was shot and killed by law enforcement during the insurrection was a great hero.
The remarks reflected recent efforts by Trump and his supporters to cast themselves as the aggrieved parties from the Jan. 6 riot, which left five people dead and others injured — and, for a brief time, halted the wheels of democracy as President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College was being confirmed by Congress.
Trump’s reference to “great people” was similar to his remarks after the fatal confrontation in Charlottesville. “You had some very bad people in that group,” he said in August 2017. “But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.”
In his interview with Bartiromo, Trump said those at the events of Jan. 6 were loving people who wanted to save the nation.
“The crowd was unbelievable and I mentioned the word ‘love,’ the love in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said of his rally on the Ellipse. “That’s why they went to Washington.”
He added: “Too much spirit and faith and love, there was such love at that rally, you had over a million people,” inflating the size of his rally crowd.
After Trump’s speech, the Capitol was invaded by backers of his seeking to disrupt the Electoral College count. On the way in, they battled with police officers; according to the Department of Justice, approximately 140 police officers were assaulted. Hundreds of those who entered the Capitol have been charged with various crimes, including more than 50 who have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.
Trump and Bartiromo both expressed outrage over the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt within the Capitol, implying repeatedly that there was a cover-up at work. Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, was fatally shot as she tried to climb through a broken window during the insurrection.
“Who is the person that shot an innocent, wonderful, incredible woman, a military woman, right in the head?” Trump said. “There is no repercussion — that were on the other side, it would be the biggest story in this country. Who shot Ashli Babbitt? People want to know and why.”
Bartiromo then referred to Babbitt as “a wonderful woman fatally shot on January 6 as she tried to climb out of a broken window.” Their remarks echoed those of some of Trump’s backers, including Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who has claimed Babbitt was “executed.”
Referring to his remarks to the crowd before they stormed the Capitol as “a very mild-mannered speech,” Trump also suggested that the blame for any violence that day could be placed on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats because they didn’t take the potential for violence seriously.
“They are the ones that were responsible,” he said.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.
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