In the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, the House Democrats on Jan. 11 introduced legislation to impeach President Donald Trump, charging him with “inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
The impeachment resolution accuses the president of repeatedly issuing “false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials.” The House voted 232-197 to impeach the president on Jan. 13, with the support of 10 Republicans.
Trump’s relentless attack on the election results culminated with a speech to his supporters at a “Save America” rally on Jan. 6 — shortly before Congress and Vice President Mike Pence gathered in the Capitol to formally count the electoral votes.
House impeachment resolution, Jan. 11: There, he reiterated false claims that “we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.” He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as: “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.
The electoral vote count — which was interrupted by the deadly riot at the Capitol and delayed by Republican opposition to Biden electors in Arizona and Pennsylvania — ended at about 3:40 a.m. on Jan. 7 with Pence announcing that Joe Biden would become the 46th president.
Here we review Trump’s comments and actions leading up to the impeachment vote, beginning with his baseless claims about the potential for election fraud long before the Nov. 3 election.
Despite the president’s warnings of fraud and his cries of a stolen election, the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees described the 2020 election as “the most secure in American history.”
“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” the groups of federal, state and local officials said in a Nov. 12 joint statement.
Even Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, rebutted his claims, telling the Associated Press on Dec. 1 that the Department of Justice and FBI “have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.”
Before the Election
For years, Trump has made false and misleading claims of rampant voter fraud in U.S. elections: Even after winning the 2016 Electoral College vote, Trump made the bogus claim that he also won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Throughout 2020, he primed his supporters to believe that if he lost his reelection bid, it could only mean the election was stolen from him.
The president also declined to criticize fringe groups that support him. When asked to do so, Trump didn’t disavow the conspiracy theory QAnon, which promotes the baseless idea that Trump is working to dismantle an elite child sex trafficking ring involving top Democrats. He repeatedly shared Twitter posts from accounts that push the conspiracy. He made ambiguous remarks when asked to denouce the Proud Boys, a far-right group, and he declined to urge his supporters to remain calm while votes were counted.
We include a sampling of Trump’s preelection claims here:
April 7: “Now, mail ballots — they cheat. Okay? People cheat. Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country, because they’re cheaters. They go and collect them. They’re fraudulent in many cases. … The mailed ballots are corrupt, in my opinion. And they collect them, and they get people to go in and sign them. And then they — they’re forgeries in many cases. It’s a horrible thing.” — in a coronavirus task force briefing, which we fact-checked
May 26: “But in California, the governor sent, I hear — or is sending — millions of ballots all over the state. Millions. To anybody. To anybody. People that aren’t citizens, illegals. Anybody that walks in California is going to get a ballot.” — in remarks at the White House, which we fact-checked
June 22: “RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!” — on Twitter
July 30: “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA.” — on Twitter
Sept. 7: “And the dirtiest fight of all is the issuance of 80 million ballots, unrequested. They’re not requested; they’re just sending 80 million ballots all over the country. Eighty million ballots, non-requested. I call them ‘unsolicited ballots.’ That’s going to be the dirtiest fight of all. People are going to get ballots; they’re going to say, ‘What am I doing?’ And then they’re going to harvest. They’re going to do all the things.” — in a press conference, which we fact-checked
Sept. 13: On Nevada Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, “He’s a, he’s a political hack. Let me just tell you. He’s in charge of ballots. There’s no way he’s gonna be honest about it. It, it’s a rig. It’s a rig. 100% rigged. I have no doubt about it in my mind. … The game is he’s also controlling ballots, and it’s a crooked operation. As far as I’m concerned, this is a rigged election.” — in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. We fact-checked the claim.
Sept. 21: “And when you see them cheating on the other side, I don’t say if, when. When you see them cheating with those ballots, all those unsolicited ballots, those millions of ballots, you see them. Anytime you do, report them to the authorities.” – in a rally in Swanton, Ohio
Sept. 22: “With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they’re sending, it’s a scam; it’s a hoax.” — speaking to reporters at the White House
Sept. 23: “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. … We want to have — get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very trans- — we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly; there’ll be a continuation.” — in a press briefing, when asked if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power
Sept. 29: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.” — in a debate when asked to denounce the far-right group by Biden. (The Proud Boys has denied it tolerates white supremacy; the Anti-Defamation League says that some members “espouse white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideologies.”)
Sept. 29: “I’m urging my supporters to go in to the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it. … If it’s a fair election, I am 100% on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that.” — in a debate, when asked if he would “urge your supporters to stay calm” and “not to engage in any civil unrest” and “not declare victory until the election has been independently certified”
Oct. 26: “It’s the only way we can lose, in my opinion, is massive fraud. And that’s what’s happening because all over the country, you’re seeing it.” — in a rally in Allentown, Pennsylvania
Oct. 27: “Was I right about the ballots? It’s messed up like you wouldn’t believe. Now they say, ‘We’d like to get the ballots and maybe get them within a few days of the election. And we’ll take 10 days to count them up.’ Oh good. Let’s let the whole world wait while you count your ballots. And you know what happens while they’re counting them? They’re dumping more ballots in there. Okay? Where did they come from?” — in a rally in West Salem, Wisconsin
After Election Night
Before states had finished counting all of the votes, Trump prematurely — and wrongly — declared himself the winner of the election. He repeatedly claimed that he defeated Biden and that results showing otherwise were due to fraud, cheating or illegal activity — particularly in swing states the president lost.
Nov. 4: “This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election. So our goal now is to ensure the integrity for the good of this nation. This is a very big moment. This is a major fraud in our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 o’clock in the morning and add them to the list. Okay?” – in a post-election night speech
“Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the ‘pollsters’ got it completely & historically wrong!” — in a tweet
“We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!” — in a tweet
Nov. 5: “STOP THE FRAUD!” — in a tweet
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.” — in White House remarks
Nov. 12: “‘REPORT: DOMINION DELETED 2.7 MILLION TRUMP VOTES NATIONWIDE. DATA ANALYSIS FINDS 221,000 PENNSYLVANIA VOTES SWITCHED FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP TO BIDEN. 941,000 TRUMP VOTES DELETED. STATES USING DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS SWITCHED 435,000 VOTES FROM TRUMP TO BIDEN.’ @ChanelRion @OANN” — in a tweet
Nov. 14: “The Consent Decree signed by the Georgia Secretary of State, with the approval of Governor @BrianKempGA, at the urging of @staceyabrams, makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes, etc. They knew they were going to cheat. Must expose real signatures!” — in a tweet
Nov. 19: “Almost ZERO ballots rejected in Georgia this election. In years past, close to 4%. Not possible. Must have signature check on envelopes now. Very easy to do. Dems fighting because they got caught. Far more votes than needed for flip. Republicans must get tough! @BrianKempGA.” — in a tweet
“You start with these machines that have been suspect, not allowed to be used in Texas, the Dominion machines, where tremendous reports have been put out. We have affidavits on — from many people talking about what went on with machines. They had glitches. You know what a glitch is. That’s — a glitch is supposed to be when a machine breaks down. Well, no, we had glitches where they moved thousands of votes from my account to Biden’s account. And these are glitches. So, they’re not glitches. They’re theft. They’re fraud, absolute fraud. And there were many of them, but, obviously, most of them tremendous amounts, got by without us catching. We got lucky to catch them. I think we caught four or five glitches of about 5,000 votes each, and different states. And, again, they’re not glitches. That was fraud. And they got caught. But, for the most part, they got away with it.” — in the Fox News interview
“This election was over. And then they did dumps. They call them dumps, big, massive dumps, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and all over. … And they did these massive dumps of votes. And, all of a sudden, I went from winning by a lot to losing by a little.” — in the Fox News interview
“Dead people were seeing ballots. But, even worse, dead people were applying to get a ballot. They were making application to get ballots, many. And, you know, we’re not talking about 10 people. We’re talking — there are a lot of dead people that so-called voted in this election. But dead people were, in some cases, in many, many cases, thousands of cases, voted, but, also, dead people made application to vote. They were dead 10 years, 15 years, and they actually made application. This is total fraud.” — in the Fox News interview
“You know, the poll watchers — and this is true with all of the states, just about, that you’re talking about, I think all of them. They weren’t allowed to have poll watchers. The Democrats and thugs, thugs — I’m not talking about saying, could you please move over? They threw them out of the counting rooms. They weren’t allowed to be in. They threw them outside in many cases. You heard the story where the people, they went out and sent for binoculars, because they wouldn’t allow them to watch. And during that period of time, a lot of bad things happened. Then they closed — as you know, they closed up the voting, and then for — unexpectedly. They closed up all of the counting. Unexpectedly, new ballots came in. And it was all new numbers being added. We have pictures and we have evidence of new ballots being brought into counting rooms.” — in the Fox News interview
Dec. 2: In a 46-minute video — which he billed as perhaps “the most important speech I’ve ever made” — Trump made a slew of false and misleading assertions and continued his attempt to deceive the American public about the election results.
“The evidence is overwhelming. The fraud that we’ve collected in recent weeks is overwhelming, having to do with our election. Everyone is saying, ‘Wow, the evidence is overwhelming,’ when they get to see it.” — in the prerecorded speech
“While it has long been understood that the Democrat political machine engages in voter fraud from Detroit to Philadelphia, to Milwaukee, Atlanta, so many other places. What changed this year was the Democrat Party’s relentless push to print and mail out tens of millions of ballots sent to unknown recipients with virtually no safeguards of any kind. This allowed fraud and abuse to occur in a scale never seen before.” — in the prerecorded speech
“In Pennsylvania, large amounts of mail-in and absentee ballots were processed illegally. And in secret, in Philadelphia, in Allegheny counties, without our observers present. They were not allowed to be present.” — in the prerecorded speech
“Also, there were more votes than there were voters [in Michigan]. Think of that. You had more votes than you had voters. That’s an easy one to figure, and it’s by the thousands.” — in the prerecorded speech
“[In Georgia], thousands of uncounted ballots were discovered in Floyd, Fayette and Walton counties weeks after the election, and these ballots were mostly from Trump voters. They weren’t counted. They were from Trump voters.” — in the prerecorded speech
“This colossal expansion of mail-in voting opened the floodgates to massive fraud. It’s a widely known fact that the voting rolls are packed with people who are not lawfully eligible to vote, including those who are deceased, have moved out of their state, and even our noncitizens of our country.” — in the prerecorded speech
“The tremendous success we had in the House of Representatives, and the tremendous success we’ve had so far in the Senate, unexpected success all over the country, and right here in Washington, it is statistically impossible that the person, me, that led the charge lost.” — in the prerecorded speech
After Electors Voted
Electors across the U.S. cast their ballots on Dec. 14. In the key swing states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada and Arizona, the electors all cast their votes for Biden and Harris.
In all, Biden won 306 electoral votes and Trump received 232.
But the president continued to peddle the baseless notion that the election was stolen from him — lashing out at not only Democrats, but fellow Republicans and even the U.S. Supreme Court.
Here is a sample of his false, misleading and unsubstantiated claims — all of which were flagged by Twitter as “disputed”:
Dec. 20: RT @gatewaypundit. “REVEALED: ‘Simple Math’ Shows Biden Claims 13 MILLION More Votes Than There Were Eligible Voters Who Voted in 2020 Election @JoeHoft via @gatewaypundit” — in a retweet, which we wrote about here.
Dec. 22: “THE DEMOCRATS DUMPED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF BALLOTS IN THE SWING STATES LATE IN THE EVENING. IT WAS A RIGGED ELECTION!!!” — in a tweet
Dec. 24: “At a meeting in Florida today, everyone was asking why aren’t the Republicans up in arms & fighting over the fact that the Democrats stole the rigged presidential election? Especially in the Senate, they said, where you helped 8 Senators win their races. How quickly they forget!” — in tweet
Dec. 26: “The U.S. Supreme Court has been totally incompetent and weak on the massive Election Fraud that took place in the 2020 Presidential Election. We have absolute PROOF, but they don’t want to see it – No ‘standing’, they say. If we have corrupt elections, we have no country!” — in a tweet
Jan. 2: Trump calls Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and asks him to “find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.”
“We have, we have, we have won this election in Georgia based on all of this. And there’s, there’s nothing wrong with saying that, Brad. You know, I mean, having the correct … the people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry. … And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”
The president reportedly made a similar call to Kemp on Dec. 5, according to the Washington Post.
Jan. 3: “I spoke to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger yesterday about Fulton County and voter fraud in Georgia. He was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters’, dead voters, and more. He has no clue!” — in a tweet that prompted Raffensperger to release an audio tape of his one-hour conversation with Trump because he said the president’s “tweet was false.”
Jan. 3: “’Georgia election data, just revealed, shows that over 17,000 votes illegally flipped from Trump to Biden.’ OANN This alone (there are many other irregularities) is enough to easily ‘swing Georgia to Trump’. #StopTheSteal” — in a tweet and Facebook post
Jan. 3: “The Swing States did not even come close to following the dictates of their State Legislatures. These States “election laws” were made up by local judges & politicians, not by their Legislatures, & are therefore, before even getting to irregularities & fraud, UNCONSTITUTIONAL!” — in a tweet and Facebook post
Jan. 4: “The ‘Surrender Caucus’ within the Republican Party will go down in infamy as weak and ineffective ‘guardians’ of our Nation, who were willing to accept the certification of fraudulent presidential numbers!” — in a tweet and Facebook post
Jan. 4: “You know, I was leading in Pennsylvania by hundreds of thousands of votes. All of a sudden I was tied. I said, ‘What happened?’” — at a rally in Georgia
What happened? The answer is simple: Pennsylvania election officials were not allowed to even open up millions of mail-in ballots that they received until Election Day, as we have written before, and those ballots were mostly used by Democrats.
Jan. 5: “Pleased to announce that @KLoeffler & @sendavidperdue have just joined our great #StopTheSteal group of Senators. They will fight the ridiculous Electoral College Certification of Biden. How do you certify numbers that have now proven to be wrong and, in many cases, fraudulent!” — in a tweet and Facebook post
After state electors certified their votes for president and vice president and those votes were sealed and sent to the president of the Senate, the Constitution required Congress to meet in a joint session to “open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.”
Federal law required Congress to act on Jan. 6 — the same day as the “Save America” rally, which was organized in a failed, final effort to pressure Congress and Pence to block Biden from becoming president.
Trump used the presidential “bully pulpit” — a term coined by President Teddy Roosevelt — to promote the Jan. 6 event and bring a large crowd to Washington, D.C.
Promoting Jan. 6 ‘Save America’ Rally
In his Jan. 6 speech, while criticizing social media companies for stifling conservative speech, Trump falsely claimed that he “did nothing” to promote the Jan. 6 rally.
“They want to indoctrinate your children,” Trump said of social media companies. “It’s all part of the comprehensive assault on our democracy and the American people to finally standing up and saying, ‘No.’ This crowd is again a testament to it. I did no advertising. I did nothing. You do have some groups that are big supporters. I want to thank that Amy [Kremer] and everybody, we have some incredible supporters, incredible, but we didn’t do anything. This just happened.”
But it is not true that Trump “did nothing” to advertise the event.
Trump repeatedly promoted the event to his millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook. In a Dec. 19 tweet, Trump promised the rally “will be wild.” On Jan. 2 on Facebook, he posted a video promoting the rally as “the biggest event in history,” and a day later he retweeted the same video from one of his supporters.
Twitter “permanently suspended” Trump’s account on Jan. 8, so his tweets are no longer visible on the social media platform. Facebook has temporarily barred Trump from posting to his Facebook account, but his previous posts remain.
Here are Trump’s Facebook posts and his tweets and retweets about the rally, based in part on a search of key words — such as “January 6th,” “Save America Rally” and “January Sixth” — on Factba.se, a website that archives Trump’s tweets.
Dec. 19: “Peter Navarro releases 36-page report alleging election fraud ‘more than sufficient’ to swing victory to Trump – A great report by Peter. Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big Protest in D.C. on January 6. Be there, will be wild.” — in a tweet and Facebook post
Dec. 26: “The ‘Justice’ Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation’s history, despite overwhelming evidence. They should be ashamed. History will remember. Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6th.” — in a tweet and Facebook post
Jan. 1: RT @KylieJaneKremer “The calvary is coming, Mr. President. January 6th Washington, DC. TrumpMarch.com. #MarchForTrump #StopTheSteal” — in a retweet, which included an image that displayed Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet promoting the event adjacent to text that says, “The President is calling on us to come back to Washington on January 6th for a big protest – ‘Be there, will be wild.’”
Jan. 2: RT @AmyKremer “We are excited to announce the site of our January 6th event will be The Ellipse in the President’s Park, just steps from the White House! Join us January 6th, doors will open at 7 am & you’ll want to get there early! RSVP @ TrumpMarch.com! #MarchForTrump #StopTheSteal” — in a retweet
Jan. 3: RT @JenLawrence21 “We have been marching all around the country for you Mr President. Now we will bring it to DC on Jan 6 and PROUDLY stand beside you! Thank you for fighting for us @realDonaldTrump!” — in a retweet
Jan. 4: “How can you certify an election when the numbers being certified are verifiably WRONG. You will see the real numbers tonight during my speech, but especially on JANUARY 6th. @SenTomCotton Republicans have pluses & minuses, but one thing is sure, THEY NEVER FORGET!” — in a tweet and Facebook post
Jan. 5: “I will be speaking at the SAVE AMERICA RALLY tomorrow on the Ellipse at 11AM Eastern. Arrive early – doors open at 7AM Eastern. BIG CROWDS!” — in a tweet and Facebook post, both of which included an image of an invitation to join Trump at the rally
Jan. 5: “SEE YOU TOMORROW, THANK YOU!” — in a Facebook post that included video taken by Trump aide Daniel Scavino Jr. at the White House with the sound of Trump supporters in town for the rally being heard in the distance
These near-daily exhortations to be at the rally helped drive an untold number of people to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.
Larry Rendall Brock, a retired Air Force officer who was pictured on the Senate floor wearing a combat helmet, told The New Yorker, “The President asked for his supporters to be there to attend, and I felt like it was important, because of how much I love this country, to actually be there.”
The Justice Department charged Brock on Jan. 10 with “one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.”
The Jan. 6 Rally
Before a joint session of Congress convened to officially count the electoral votes from the states on Jan. 6, Trump and some of his supporters spoke to the crowd at the rally near the White House.
Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, repeated bogus claims of voter fraud, including the baseless idea that “crooked Dominion machines … deliberately changed” votes for Trump as well as votes in the Georgia Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5.
Giuliani spoke of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s proposal, supported by a handful of other Republican senators, to reject the electoral votes from some states during the joint session until a 10-day audit could be conducted by a congressionally appointed commission. Giuliani said: “Over the next 10 days, we get to see the machines that are crooked, the ballots that are fraudulent, and if we’re wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail. So, let’s have trial by combat.”
The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. also told the crowd that the rally “should be a message to all the Republicans who have not been willing to actually fight. The people who did nothing to stop the steal. This gathering should send a message to them this isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”
The president spoke for about 70 minutes, beginning around 11:50 a.m. He rattled off many falsehoods about the presidential election and urged the crowd to “fight like hell.” Trump told them to walk to the Capitol to give “weak” Republicans “the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.” Trump falsely told his supporters he would “be there with you.”
‘Fight like hell.’ In his speech, Trump spoke at one point of “peacefully” protesting at the Capitol. But mostly he talked about fighting, weakness versus strength and never giving up.
His remarks included:
“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats, which is what they’re doing and stolen by the fake news media. … We will never give up. We will never concede, it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal.”
“There’s so many weak Republicans. … The weak Republicans, they’re pathetic Republicans and that’s what happens. If this happened to the Democrats, there’d be hell all over the country going on. There’d be hell all over the country. But just remember this. You’re stronger, you’re smarter. You’ve got more going than anybody, and they try and demean everybody having to do with us, and you’re the real people.”
“Unbelievable, what we have to go through, what we have to go through and you have to get your people to fight. And if they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. You primary them. We’re going to let you know who they are.”
“Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back. It’s like a boxer, and we want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people.”
“After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. … We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
“We fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore. … So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol. … But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
‘If Mike Pence does the right thing.’ Echoing tweets he had posted earlier in the day, Trump repeatedly called on Pence to reject the electoral votes of some states, falsely claiming that Pence “has the absolute right to do it.” While the president was speaking, Pence released a letter to Congress saying he couldn’t do what Trump wanted under the Constitution.
“I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. … The states got defrauded. They were given false information. They voted on it. Now they want to recertify. They want it back. All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people. I just spoke to Mike. I said, ‘Mike, that doesn’t take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage,’ and then we’re stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot, and we have to live with that for four more years. We’re just not going to let that happen.”
“And Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you.”
“The Republicans have to get tougher. You’re not going to have a Republican Party if you don’t get tougher. They want to play so straight, they want to play so, ‘Sir, yes, the United States, the Constitution doesn’t allow me to send them back to the states.’ Well, I say, ‘Yes, it does because the Constitution says you have to protect our country and you have to protect our Constitution and you can’t vote on fraud,’ and fraud breaks up everything, doesn’t it? When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do.”
The assault on the Capitol. After Trump’s speech, his supporters marched to the Capitol, but Trump wasn’t with them. The joint session of Congress began at 1 p.m., and rioters entered the Capitol shortly after 2 p.m. They derailed the congressional proceedings and forced the evacuation of members of Congress, along with Pence.
At 2:24 p.m., about 10 minutes after CNN had reported that police had used tear gas as protesters had breached police barricades and were scaling the walls of the Capitol, Trump tweeted: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”
Fourteen minutes later, at 2:38 p.m., Trump tweeted: “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!” And at 3:13, he repeated in a tweet: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
At 4:17 p.m., about two hours after rioters had breached the Capitol, Trump released a video on social media in which he said: “I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us, from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube removed that video.
At 6:01 p.m., Trump took to Twitter again to push his baseless claims of a fraudulent election, saying: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
Correction, March 16: We updated this story to remove a partial quote that the Washington Post attributed to Trump during a Dec. 23 phone call with a Georgia elections investigator. The Post issued a correction that said a recently released recording of the call “revealed that The Post misquoted Trump’s comments.”
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