After giving his very first post-presidency speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) over the weekend, Trump described the “Stop the Steal” rally he held before the Capitol breach as a delightful event that was filled with nothing but his supporters’ goodwill.
In a late Sunday interview with Fox News’ Steve Hilton, Trump remarked that the rally was a “beautiful thing,” and that it “was a lovefest.”
“That rally was massive,” the former president noted. “It was tremendous numbers of people.”
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 1, 2021
Trump’s commentary came after he was asked whether he would have done anything differently since large groups of rally attendees broke away from the event, and relocated to the Capitol steps before engaging in an all-out riot.
The one-time commander-in-chief followed his remarks up by saying he knew the event was going to have a large turnout, saying he told administration officials prior to the January 6 event that 10,000 National Guard troops needed to be “ready.”
However, Trump subsequently moved to shift blame over the lack of security enforcement in the nation’s capital to “the people at the Capitol,” specifically House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “I heard they rejected [readying the National Guard] because it didn’t look good,” he told Hilton.
According to a factcheck by The Fresno Bee, Pelosi had no authority over the National Guard decision, which was rejected by the then-House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving, who did not consult with House leadership.
Trump later switched gears and lamented that he “hates” to see the “terrible” rioting that unfolded at the Capitol, ultimately comparing the events to the fiery racial justice protests that erupted in 2020.
The Capitol riot claimed the lives of several individuals, including three law enforcement officials who responded to the scene. One officer died after having been hit in the head with a large object believed to have been a fire extinguisher, whereas two others died by suicide.
The January 6 events saw thousands of Trump supporters scaling the walls, smashing windows and breaking through several doors, as individuals stormed into the congressional chambers and offices, including one that belonged to Pelosi. The siege itself forced senators and representatives to remain inside a security bunker on the grounds for several hours, before being cleared to resume the certification process.
While the rally itself was largely seen as a factor that emboldened Trump loyalists to storm the Capitol, it was Trump’s own calls to his supporters that they go to the federal building and “show strength” that officials zeroed in on. In the end, that commentary prompted the US House of Representatives to impeach him on a sole incitement charge, marking the second-ever impeachment of a sitting president. However, the US Senate later acquitted Trump.
Trump has not given a firm answer to a possible run in the 2024 presidential cycle; however, he did hint that he may take up the campaign batons once again during his CPAC weekend address.