WASHINGTON (AP) First, some blamed the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol on left-wing antifa antagonists, a theory that was quickly debunked. Then came comparisons between rioters and peaceful protesters or even tourists.
Now, allies of former President Donald Trump are calling those indicted on Capitol Hill political prisoners, a startling effort to revise the narrative of that murderous day.
The cheeky rhetoric ahead of a rally scheduled for Saturday on Capitol Hill is the latest attempt to explain the horrific onslaught and obscure what played out for everyone: rioters loyal to the then president storming the building, fighting the police and trying to prevent Congress from certifying the election of Democrat Joe Biden.
Some people call it January 6 truthfulness, they’re rewriting the narrative to make it feel like January 6 wasn’t a big deal, and it was a hell of a big deal, and an attack on our democracy, Heidi said. Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, which studies extremist movements.
All in all, the attempt to launder the Jan.6 attack threatens to further divide an already polarized nation that finds itself drifting from what were common facts and a shared commitment to civic order towards a disturbing new normal.
Rather than a nation healed eight months after the murderous assault, it risks tearing itself apart further as the next elections approach.
The size of the expected crowd and the intensity of Saturday’s rally are unclear, but law enforcement does not appear to be taking any chances. Security fences have been requested around the Capitol and reinforcements are summoned to support the Capitol Police, whose leadership has been criticized and summarily dismissed for their January 6 management.
As authorities brace for a repeat of the appearance of far-right groups and other Trump loyalists who have harassed the Capitol, it is unclear whether these actors will participate in the new event. Extremist groups are of concern because, while members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers made up a small portion of the January 6 rioters, they are accused of some of the more serious crimes in the attack.
Rally organizer Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign strategist, has been promoting the event and others like it in cities across the country, calling attention to what he calls the prisoners unjustly prosecuted for their involvement in the January 6 riot.
I am so proud of all of the brave patriots who attended these rallies under the same threat to their rights as so many who are currently imprisoned for a non-violent expression of their First Amendment rights, he said. in a July newspaper. Release.
Braynard declined to answer additional questions via email, and the Associated Press refused to accept the terms he had set for an interview.
As Trump openly contemplates another White House candidacy, many Republican lawmakers who have joined his efforts to challenge Bidens’ victory stay away from Saturday’s rally, though many still echo his false claims. that the elections were rigged despite numerous court cases by Attack allies who did not confirm these claims.
Representative Mo Brooks, R-Ala., Who joined protesters near the White House on Jan.6 where Trump encouraged crowds to come to Capitol Hill, declined to comment, his spokesperson said via email. Brooks is now a candidate for the Senate.
Another Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who voted to challenge some Electoral College counts, was not available for an interview, his office said.
Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Also declined an interview, which was captured in a fist-raising photo in tribute to the crowd as he entered the Capitol that day.
Yet even in their absence, some Republicans are telegraphing their views. When asked if he would be present, Hawley’s office issued a comment on behalf of the senators.
Joe Biden is expected to step down, Hawley said in a statement.
More than 600 people face federal charges in the riot that injured dozens of officers and sent lawmakers underground. Five people ultimately died, including Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot dead by police as she attempted to break into a lobby in the House bedroom. Several police officers committed suicide later.
Hundreds of people have been charged with misdemeanors for illegally entering the Capitol, but hundreds more face more serious felony charges, including assault, obstructing formal proceedings or conspiring.
The most serious cases have been brought against members of two far-right groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, as authorities investigate the extent to which the attack was planned. No accused of January 6 has been charged with sedition, although this was initially considered by authorities.
More than 60 people have pleaded guilty, mostly to felony charges of demonstrating on Capitol Hill.
Only a fraction of the accused remain locked up while awaiting trial. Lawyers have complained about the harsh conditions for the January 6 defendants in the DC jail, saying they are being held in what has been dubbed the Patriot Unit.
Defenders of suspected Capitol Hill attackers say they face tougher prosecutions for their political views than others, including Black Lives Matter protesters, but PA review of court cases refutes this affirmation.
Representative Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the core group investigating the Jan.6 attack, said those who broke the law must be prosecuted or else we rationalize, apologize and encourage more of the same.
Schiff laments that the nation had a chance to move on to the Jan.6 attack, but instead chose a different path.
There really was an opportunity to repudiate everything leading up to January 6, and instead the Republican leadership continued to embrace it, he said. So it’s disheartening. This means that the recovery will take much longer than it should.
The verdant grounds of the Capitols, a park-like favorite haunt where people take photos in front of the iconic dome, would typically see few lawmakers or staff on a Saturday. While the Senate returns to session on Monday, the House does not resume until after the Monday following the rally.
When the fence was first erected around the Capitol after the January attack, it drew fierce criticism from those concerned that the message sent as a symbol of democracy would be closed. Now, this is increasingly seen as a necessary precaution.
Associated Press editors Alanna Durkin in Boston and Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report.
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