WASHINGTON - Hours before the fourth House hearing connecting him to the insurrection, Donald Trump has defended the 6 January crowd who violently stormed the US Capitol as “well behaved”.
The one-term president defended his supporters’ actions, despite more than 140 police officers being injured in the line of duty in the riot that followed his “Stop the Steal” rally.
“Most importantly they don’t want to talk about the election results,” Mr Trump said in a Monday night appearance on the right-wing Newsmax channel. “Because if they do we win hands down, we have all the information, they refuse to talk about it and that’s why people went there on 6 January.
“And, I’m talking about the people that went there to also listen to speeches. It was the largest group that, I think, I have ever seen or made a speech to. I have never seen anything like it and they were well behaved. So many people and nobody ever talks about that.”
More than 865 people have so far been arrested and charged in connection with the pro-Trump riot.
According to select committee aides, the House 6 January panel will use today’s hearing to show that Mr Trump knew his attempts to pressure elected officials in Georgia and Arizona into helping him reverse his defeat in their states could lead to violence.
The panel’s fourth hearing will take place at 1pm ET, and will feature a string of officials who the former president tried to bend to his will even after he was warned that his preferred course of action was illegal.
“What you will hear during this hearing will demonstrate that President Trump and his allies drove a pressure campaign based on lies,” a select panel staffer told reporters on Monday.
“These lies led to threats to put state and local officials and their families at risk. These lies perpetuated the public’s belief that the election was stolen and tainted by widespread fraud, and... contributed to the violence of 6 January”.
The January 6 committee will meet for its fourth public hearing on Tuesday with one state firmly in its crosshairs: Georgia.
The site of a surprise victory for Joe Biden in 2020, the southern state was previously considered a stronghold and reliable source of Electoral College votes for Republican candidates, despite deep Democratic constituencies in Atlanta and some other areas. That changed when Donald Trump became the first Republican to lose the state since 1992.
In the weeks after his shocking defeat, Mr Trump poured much of his time and energy into the Peach State and its elected officials: At the top of his list were two Republican statewide elected officials, Gov Brian Kemp, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who, according to multiple media reports, were both forced to resist overtures by Mr Trump and his legal team to interfere in the election.
Mr Kemp faced personal calls to his aides demanding that he use executive authority to block or temporarily suspend his state from certifying its election results. And he also faced very public demands to call a special session of Georgia’s state legislature to either declare the state’s electors for Mr Trump or launch an unwarranted and resource-consuming investigation into baseless allegations of fraud in the state.