Former President Donald Trump has offered an alternative reality of what occurred at the Capitol on Jan. 6 when a mob of his supporters stormed the building, violently attacking law enforcement officers who tried to stop them.
Trump, who encouraged his supporters to fight against the confirmation of Joe Biden’s victory by Congress and to march to the Capitol, told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Thursday night that the rioters posed “zero threat.”
“Right from the start, it was zero threat,” he said. “Look, they went in — they shouldn’t have done it — some of them went in, and they’re hugging and kissing the police and the guards, you know? They had great relationships. A lot of the people were waved in, and then they walked in, and they walked out.”
Accounts from that day immediately shatter Trump’s attempt at revisionist history.
One police officer died after being assaulted during the attack, two others died by suicide days later, another lost an eye and another suffered two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs. Many officers suffered concussions and other bodily injuries from being beaten with flagpoles, sprayed with bear spray, punched, dragged and trampled. In all, 140 officers were hurt.
After the attack, acting D.C. police chief Robert Contee said, “I’ve talked to officers who have done two tours in Iraq who said this was scarier to them than their time in combat.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., one of the few Republicans in Congress to condemn Trump for his attempts at overturning the election, was blunt in his assessment of Trump’s comments.
“He is an utter failure,” Kinzinger tweeted. “No remorse and no regret. It’s quite honestly sick and disgusting.”
Kinzinger was one of 10 Republicans to join Democrats when the House impeached Trump in January on a charge of “incitement of insurrection.” Trump was acquitted in the Senate though seven GOP senators joined Democrats to vote for his conviction.
At a rally before the attack on the Capitol, Trump had told his supporters, “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” and urged them to head to the Capitol to stop the affirmation of Biden’s win.
More than 300 people have been charged since the attack that resulted in five deaths and 130 police assaults. Prosecutors have said they expect at least 400 people to be charged.
Trump is not the only Republican to downplay the severity of the Jan. 6 attack.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said in a radio interview earlier this month that he never felt threatened that day because the people who stormed the Capitol were people who respected police and were acting out of patriotism.
“I knew those were people that loved this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break a law, and so I wasn’t concerned,” Johnson said.
He then added, “Had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”
Trump’s reimagining of the violent rioters is reminiscent of his claim after the white supremacist march in Charlottesville in 2017 clashed with counterprotesters, resulting in one death. Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides.”
Even Republicans who condemned the Jan. 6 rioters have been eager to put the incident behind them and have pushed back against Democratic efforts to launch a 9/11-style commission to investigate the events that led up to the attack.
Without bipartisan support, Democratic committee chairs announced Thursday night that the House will be pushing ahead with its own investigation spanning multiple committees.
The committee chairs sent letters to the White House, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Attorney General Merrick Garland, U.S. Park Police, the District of Columbia and other agencies and departments asking for documents and communications before, during and after the attack.