Former President Trump on Thursday once again defended the actions of his supporters who laid siege to the U.S. Capitol on January 6. He argued the group posed “zero threat” to lawmakers and others inside the Capitol that day while attempting to confirm the Electoral College results and certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
“It was zero threat. Right from the start, it was zero threat,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.
More than 400 people have been arrested for various crimes on the grounds of the Capitol that left five people dead including a police officer. The flood of rioters who broke out windows and pressed up stairways, and sent lawmakers and law enforcement running for their lives.
Authorities have connected at least 52 alleged rioters to extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Texas Freedom Force and the conspiracy ideology QAnon.
Some of the rioters may have sought to harm or assassinate lawmakers, according to court documents, including former Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the Senate chamber at the Capitol to preside over the certification of election results.
They rioters are accused of spraying police officers with a chemical spray. Approximately 140 Capitol and Metropolitan police officers were seriously harmed, with Capitol Police union leader Gus Papathanasiou saying in a statement in January that injuries included cracked ribs, brain injuries, smashed spinal disks and one officer losing an eye. Two Capitol Police officers present that day died by suicide after the riots.
However, Trump did acknowledge that some people who breached the Capitol, “shouldn’t have done it.” But he was critical of federal law enforcement for “persecuting” the Capitol rioters, complaining that “nothing happens” to “liberal” protesters.
The one-term President also falsely claimed that the rioters had “great relationships” with law enforcement.
“Some of them went in and they’re, 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,” Trump said.
Trump is accused by a majority of Americans of inciting the deadly attack by urging his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn the election results at a rally shortly before saying he would march with them to the Capitol.
The former President was impeached on a single charge of incitement of insurrection by the House on January 13. He was later acquitted by the Senate.
Even with Trump dodging a conviction stemming from Jan. 6, Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson, on behalf of the NAACP, filed a federal lawsuit against the former President, Rudy Giuliani, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers of “conspiring to incite a violent riot at the U.S. Capitol.” The lawsuit alleges that, by preventing Congress from carrying out its official duties, the defendants directly violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.