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Analysis: Nearly 200 Trump Loyalists Believed He Told Them to Attack Capitol

The analysis bolsters arguments in favor of barring Trump from running for president again, the watchdog group said.

Then-President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

An analysis from a nonprofit government watchdog finds that dozens of individuals charged for their role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, believed that then-President Donald Trump had commanded them to engage in the violence.

According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), at least 174 defendants charged with crimes relating to the breach of the Capitol have cited Trump’s words in the lead-up to or on January 6. These individuals have noted that Trump promised a “wild” event in public statements and on social media in the days leading up to the attack.

This and other comments from Trump led them to believe that Trump wanted his loyalists to interrupt Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential race on January 6, 2021.

“These defendants and their legal representatives have made it clear that Trump’s repeated false statements and calls to action drove their actions that day,” the analysis from CREW said.

Of the 174 defendents who cited Trump’s words, 94 said that his incendiary speech directly before the breach of the Capitol led them to believe he wanted violence.

On the morning of January 6, as Congress was preparing to certify Joe Biden’s win over Trump in the 2020 presidential election, Trump held a rally in front of the White House, falsely alleging that the race had been “stolen” from him “by emboldened radical left Democrats” and “the fake news media” and that fraud had altered the contest’s results.

Trump then encouraged his loyalists to go to the Capitol. “We will never give up. We will never concede, it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved,” he said, adding that his followers could “never take back our country with weakness.”

In the analysis published on Thursday, CREW cites quotes from defendants — uncovered in letters to federal judges, court filings, direct appeals to the public and more — about their perceived call to action by Trump. One defendant, for example, stated in a court filing that he “believed he was directed and authorized to engage” in the attack “by Donald J. Trump and his various agents and representatives.”

Another defendant alleged that he was “responding to the entreaties” of the former president and was “misled” by Trump’s “deception” leading up to the attack.

“[W]e’re going back to Washington January 6th,” another person said, according to CREW, citing a group chat they were involved in. “Trump has called all patriots. If the electors don’t elect, we will be forced into civil war.”

According to CREW, 16 individuals from two far right white supremacist groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, said that they interpreted Trump’s words to be an order to attack Congress.

“He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!!” one Oath Keeper wrote in a group chat. “Gentlemen we are heading to DC pack your shit!!”

CREW noted that the information in its report “bolsters the evidence that January 6th was the result of organized efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to halt the certification of a free and fair election by force.” The analysis strengthens arguments from many — including the organization itself — that Trump should be disqualified from running for office in 2024.

“Based on his actions surrounding the insurrection, Donald Trump is disqualified from ever holding public office again under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars anyone who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and who then engaged in insurrection or gave aid or comfort to insurrectionists from holding state or federal office,” CREW said.

“Protecting our democracy means preventing those who tried to overthrow our government on January 6th from trying to lead it,” the organization added. “This is not merely a policy preference; it is a constitutional imperative.”

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