Shortly before legions of President Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol Wednesday, many of them heard the president give a rambling speech in which he continued to falsely assert he won reelection in November and urged the crowd to “fight like hell.”
Addressing his backers, some of whom held signs bearing slogans such as “Save America” and “Stand With Trump,” the president said “these people are not going to take it any longer,” referring to his cheering supporters.
“They came from all over our country,” Trump said, claiming the media and “big tech” had “rigged an election. They rigged it like they’ve never rigged an election before. ... We will stop the steal.”
He also heaped words of praise on the crowd.
“Just remember this: you’re stronger, you’re smarter, you’ve got more going than anybody,” Trump said. “And they try and demean everybody having to do with us, and you’re the real people. You’re the people that built this nation. You’re not the people that tore down our nation.”
In addition, Trump criticized “weak Republicans” unwilling to stand up to Democrats and said “you have to get your people to fight. And if they don’t fight we have to primary the hell out of the the ones that don’t fight,” referring to GOP lawmakers.
He accused Democrats of engaging in “pure theft” to capture the November election and said the “enormous crowd” listening to him had “truth and justice on our side.”
“Together we are determined to defend and preserve government of the people, by the people and for the people,” Trump said, adding that “we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
He said “we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue - I love Pennsylvania Avenue - and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give” Republicans “the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I want to thank you all. God bless you and God bless America. Thank you all for being here, this is incredible.”
Bedlam soon followed at the Capitol.
“One person is responsible for the surreal act of sedition unfolding at our Nation’s Capitol,” tweeted former CIA Director John O. Brennan. “His name is Donald J. Trump, & he is being enabled by many Republicans in Congress. Trump must be held accountable. He is an indelible blight on America’s soul.”
Brennan wrote that “incitement of a lawless mob that has assaulted the center of our democratically elected government is unforgivable, unconscionable, & likely indictable. Resign, and never darken America’s political system ever again.
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.