Trump is making the January 6 attack a cornerstone of his White House bid

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican donald trump has launched its general election campaign not only rewriting the history of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitolbut positioning the violent siege and his failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election as a cornerstone of his attempt to return to the White House.

in a weekend rally in ohioHis first as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Trump took the stage, his hand raised in salute to the brim of his red MAGA hat, as a recorded chorus of prisoners imprisoned for their role in the Jan. 6 attack . sang the national anthem.

An announcer asked the crowd to please stand “for the January 6 hostages who were treated horribly and unfairly.” And the people did it and sang.

“They were incredible patriots,” Trump said when the recording ended.

Having previously promised forgive the troublemakersHe promised to help them “on the first day we take office.”

Initially relegated to a fringe theory on the fringes of the Republican Party, the revisionist history of January 6, which Trump amplified during the early days of the GOP primary campaign to rouse his most devoted voters, remains a centerpiece of the campaign even when he must appeal. more broadly to a general election audience.

By praising the rioters, Trump is shifting blame for his own role in the run-up to the bloody mafia siege and ask voters to absolve hundreds of them (and himself) of the deadliest attack on a seat of American power in 200 years.

At the same time, Trump’s allies are installing those who deny the 2020 election. to the Republican National Committee, further institutionalizing the lies that spurred the violence. That raises red flags about next year, when Congress will again be asked to certify the vote.

And they are not alone. Republicans in Congress are embarking on a new investigation of the January 6, 2021 attack that seeks to protect Trump from wrongdoing as lawmakers float parallel theories about why thousands of his supporters descended on the Capitol in what became a brutal scene hand-to-hand combat with the police.

Five people died in the riots and their aftermath.

Taken together, what those who study authoritarian regimes notice is a classic case of what is called consolidation: where the state apparatus is being transformed around a singular figure, in this case Trump.

Jason Stanley, a philosophy professor at Yale, said that in history the question comes up again and again: How could people not have taken an authoritarian leader’s word about what was going to happen?

“Listen to Trump,” he said.

“When a coup against the democratic regime occurs and is not punished, it is a very strong indicator of the end of the rule of law and the victory of that authoritarian movement,” he said.

“Americans have a hard time understanding that what happens in most of the world can also happen here.”

Trump faces a four-count federal indictment on January 6: Charges of conspiracy to defraud Americans over their 2020 election loss and obstruction of official congressional proceedings to certify the vote for Joe Biden. As the Supreme Court considers Trump’s claim that he should be immune to processingIt is unclear when the case will go to trial, raising the possibility that it will not be resolved until after the election.

The initial January 6 House Select Committee determined that Trump criminally participated in a “multi-party conspiracy” overturned the legal results of the 2020 presidential election and took no action to stop his supporters from attacking the Capitol and beating police.

More than 1,200 people have been charged participated in the riots, including far-right extremists Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, and hundreds of them were convicted. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and lawyer John Eastman They face legal challenges for their work in the 2020 elections.

The Trump campaign, in response to an investigation by The Associated Press, pointed to the work of House investigators who are trying to show inconsistencies in the Select Committee investigation and its star witness. Cassidy Hutchinsona former aide who had a front-row seat to the inner workings of the White House.

Trump’s national press secretary, Karoline Leavitt, said the Justice Department has spent more time prosecuting the former president and “targeting Americans for peacefully protesting on January 6” than other criminals.

“President Trump will restore justice for all Americans who have been treated unfairly,” he said.

Although Republicans privately fear that Trump risks alienating the women and independent voters he would need in a general election rematch against Biden, his top advisers have said there is much they can do. Trump is going to be Trump.

Over the weekend, Trump focused his attention on Liz Cheneythe former Republican congresswoman, who was vice chairwoman of the Select Committee and personally ensured Hutchinson’s box office success. testimony 2022.

“She should go to jail along with the rest of the Unselected Committee!” Trump posted on social media.

Cheney posted in response: “Hey Donald – you know these are lies,” as she makes dispelling falsehoods about January 6 her singular focus in 2024.

“If your response to Trump’s assault on our democracy is to lie and cover up what he did, attack the brave men and women who presented the truth and defend the criminals who violently stormed the Capitol,” he said in a post, “You need to rethink what side are you on. Hint: it’s not from the United States.”

Many Republicans are willfully ignoring the issue, especially in Congress, even as lawmakers ran for their lives and took shelter as rioters stormed the Senate chamber and ransacked the Capitol offices.

Senators who harshly criticized Trump after the Jan. 6 attack, such as Republican leader Mitch McConnell and John Thune of South Dakota, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, have now grudgingly backed him.

Others still refuse to endorse Trump, including Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial on a charge of inciting insurrection over the Jan. 6 attack. But those who resist are a minority.

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Cassidy said only: “I plan to vote for a Republican for president of the United States.”

One Republican willing to speak is Mike Pence, the former vice president, who rioters shouted that they wanted to “hang” that day as a makeshift gallows was erected on the west front of the Capitol.

“I was there on January 6. I have no doubt … that some people got caught up in the moment,” Pence said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“But the assaults on police officers, ultimately an environment that took lives, is something that I think was tragic that day,” Pence said. “And I will never diminish it.”

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