WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Since the deadly Jan.6 insurgency on Capitol Hill, former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have been pushing fake and misleading accounts to downplay the event that killed five and dozens more wounded. His supporters seem to have listened.
Three months after a crowd of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to undo its November election defeat, about half of Republicans believe the siege was largely a non-violent protest or was the work of left-wing activists trying to portray Trump, a new Reuters / Ipsos poll has been found.
Six in 10 Republicans also believe Trump’s false claim that the November presidential election was stolen from him due to widespread electoral fraud, and the same proportion of Republicans believe he should run again in 2024 , according to the poll of March 30 and 31.
Since the attack on Capitol Hill, Trump, many of his allies in the Republican Party and right-wing media figures have publicly painted a picture of the day’s events at odds with reality.
Hundreds of Trump supporters, mobilized by former presidents over false claims about a stolen election, scaled the walls of the Capitol building and smashed windows to enter as lawmakers voted inside to certify the election victory of the president Joe Bidens. The rioters – many of whom wore Trump campaign clothes and waved flags – also included well-known white supremacist groups such as the Proud Boys.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Trump said rioters posed no threat. Other prominent Republicans, such as Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, have publicly doubted Trump supporters are behind the riot.
Last month, 12 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against a resolution honoring Capitol Hill police officers who defended the scene during the rampage, with one lawmaker saying he opposed the use of the word insurrection to describe the incident.
The Reuters / Ipsos poll shows that a large number of core Republicans have embraced the myth. While 59% of all Americans say Trump bears some responsibility for the attack, only three in ten Republicans agree. Eight in 10 Democrats and six in 10 independents reject false claims that the siege on Capitol Hill was mostly peaceful or that it was organized by leftist protesters.
Republicans have their own version of reality, said John Geer, a public opinion expert at Vanderbilt University. It is a huge problem. Democracy demands responsibility and accountability demands proof.
The refusal by Trump and prominent Republicans to repudiate the events of January 6 increases the likelihood of a similar incident happening again, said Susan Corke, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.
This is the greatest danger in normalizing this behavior, Corke said. I think we’re going to see more violence.
In a new reminder of the security threats facing the U.S. Capitol since Jan.6, a motorist crashed into a car in the U.S. Capitol Police on Friday and brandished a knife, killing one officer and injuring another and forcing the Capitol complex to close. Officers shot and killed the suspect.
Allie Carroll, spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, said its members condemned the attack on Capitol Hill and referred to a Jan. 13 statement by President Ronna McDaniel. Violence has no place in our politics … Those who participated in the assault on the Capitol of our nations and those who continue to threaten violence should be found, held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent. the law, McDaniel said.
A representative for Trump did not respond to requests for comment.
DANGEROUS TURN ON REALITY
The disinformation campaign to downplay the role of the insurgency and Trump reflects a growing consensus within the Republican Party that its fortunes remain attached to Trump and his devoted base, political observers say.
According to the new Reuters / Ipsos poll, Trump remains the most popular figure in the party, with eight in 10 Republicans continuing to have a favorable impression of him.
Republicans in Congress felt they had to maximize Trump’s vote to win, said Tim Miller, former spokesman for Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush. It is the way back to coming of age.
Republicans in Congress show little sign of breaking with Trump. Right after the murderous siege on Capitol Hill, 147 Republican lawmakers voted against certifying Bidens’ electoral victory. The Democratic-led House of Representatives impeached Trump for instigating an insurgency, making him the only US president to be impeached twice, but most Republicans in the Senate acquitted him of the charge in a trial.
Last week, Republican Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana said the party must address the needs of the working class voters who make up Trumps’ political base ahead of next year’s critical midterm election that will dictate control of Congress.
MPs who want to swap working-class voters because they don’t like President Trump’s impact … are wrong, Banks wrote in a note to Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy, whom he told posted the content on Twitter.
Banks was one of 147 lawmakers who voted to block Bidens’ certification of victory, and he then voted against Trump’s impeachment. Banks did not respond to requests for comment.
Some mainstream Republicans argue that after Republicans lose both the White House and control of both houses of Congress under Trump’s watch, the party must move from the former president in order to attract suburban voters, moderate and independent.
In the latest Reuters / Ipsos poll, only three in 10 independents said they had a favorable opinion of Trump, among the lowest levels recorded since his presidency. Most Americans – around 60% – also believe Biden won the November ballot and said Trump should no longer run.
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of Trump’s top Republican critics in Congress, criticized the attempt to rewrite the history of the attack on Capitol Hill.
The disinformation effort is such a dangerous and disgusting turn of reality, Kinzinger wrote in a fundraising appeal to supporters last month, and what’s even worse is that it is not in dispute. by so many members of the Republican Party.
The window for the Republican Party to stand out from Trump appears to have passed, Miller said.
There was a chance after Jan. 6 for the Republican leadership to really put their foot down and say: We can’t be the insurgent party, he said. Now that opportunity has totally disappeared.
The Reuters / Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, across the United States. It collected responses from 1,005 adults between March 30 and March 31. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 4 percentage points.
Click here to view the full survey results: tmsnrt.rs/3mnB1Gw
Editing by Soyoung Kim and Alistair Bell
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