‘Be There. Will Be Wild!’: Trump All but Circled the Date


For weeks, President Trump and his supporters had been proclaiming Jan. 6, 2021, as a day of reckoning. A day to assemble in Washington to “save America” and “stop the steal” of the election he had decisively misplaced, but which he nonetheless maintained — typically by means of a poisonous brew of conspiracy theories — that he had received by a landslide.

And when that day got here, the president rallied hundreds of his supporters with an incendiary speech. Then a big mob of these supporters, many waving Trump flags and carrying Trump regalia, violently stormed the Capitol to take over the halls of presidency and ship elected officers into hiding, fearing for his or her security.

But if the chaos in the Capitol shocked the nation, certainly one of the most annoying features of this most annoying day was that it could possibly be seen coming. The president himself had all but circled it on the nation’s calendar.

“Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Dec. 19, simply certainly one of a number of of his tweets selling the day. “Be there, will be wild!”

And his supporters took the president at his phrase.

“If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism,” a member of the Red-State Secession group on Facebook posted on Tuesday, the eve of the appointed day, Jan. 6.

Beneath it, dozens of individuals posted feedback that included images of the weaponry — together with assault rifles — that they stated they deliberate to deliver to the rally. There had been additionally feedback referring to “occupying” the Capitol and forcing Congress to overturn the November election that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had received — and Mr. Trump had misplaced.

Renée DiResta, a researcher who research on-line actions at the Stanford Internet Observatory, stated that the violent disruption at the Capitol on Wednesday was the results of on-line actions working in closed social media networks the place claims of voter fraud and a stolen election discovered oxygen.

By mid-December, dozens of lawsuits filed by Trump supporters had failed, often miserably. Then, on Dec. 14, Mr. Biden secured enough votes in the Electoral College to affirm his victory. The last formality before his inauguration on Jan. 20 was the official count by Congress of electoral votes, a pro forma ceremony of paperwork, to be overseen by Vice President Mike Pence.

On Jan. 6.

Mr. Alexander and others seized on the date, urging Trump supporters everywhere to converge onto the Capitol as Congress tended to what historically has been a glorified shuffling of papers — if sometimes infused with grace, as when Vice President Al Gore announced the names of the winner, George W. Bush, and the loser: Al Gore.

The moment has traditionally been seen as another reassurance of the transfer of power in the Republic. But Mr. Trump and his supporters were publicly framing this year’s formality as criminal, fraudulent — even treasonous.

As his aides and supporters did what they could to forestall the inevitable — a lawsuit by the Texas congressman Louie Gohmert, a 36-page report alleging election fraud by the Trump adviser Peter Navarro — Mr. Trump continued tweeting.

Dec. 27: “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it. Information to follow.”

Dec. 30: “JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!”

Jan. 1: “The BIG Protest Rally in Washington, D.C. will take place at 11:00 A.M. on January 6th. Locational details to follow. StopTheSteal!”

That same day, a supporter misspelled the word “cavalry” in tweeting that “The calvary is coming, Mr. President!”

Mr. Trump responded: “A great honor!”

The next day, Jan. 2, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and 11 other Republican senators joined another Republican, Josh Hawley of Missouri — as well as more than 100 Republican members of the House of Representatives — in vowing to object to the certification of Mr. Biden’s election.

By now, the extreme fringes of Trump supporters — including the Proud Boys and other groups known to incite violence, as well as conspiracy groups like QAnon — were exploring what they might do on Jan. 6 in Washington. On dedicated chats in Gab they discussed logistics of where to gather and what streets they would take to the Capitol. The Red-State Secession Facebook page even encouraged its 8,000 followers to share the addresses of “enemies,” including those for federal judges, members of Congress and well-known progressives.

Any hope that Mr. Pence would block the congressional confirmation of Mr. Biden’s election — thereby acquiescing to immense pressure being applied by Mr. Trump — was dashed before noon. Mr. Pence said in a letter that the vice president did not have such power.

“The presidency belongs to the American people, and to them alone,” he wrote.

Then, at noon, Mr. Trump began to deliver a speech to his excited followers.

In the afternoon hours to come, Mr. Trump would excoriate his vice president for not having “the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” In the hours to come, his supporters, carrying flags and wearing clothes that bore his name, would rush the Capitol in a terrifying swirl of chaos that would force a lockdown and leave one woman shot dead.

Among those who swarmed into the Capitol would be well-known QAnon characters and white supremacists. Jake Angeli, a QAnon supporter known for his painted face and horned hat, roamed the Senate floor. Tim Gionet, a neo-Nazi conspiracy theorist known as “Baked Alaska,” would take over a Senate office.

But first came the remarks of the President, delivered on the Ellipse, just south of the White House.

“We will never give up,” he said. “We will never concede. It will never happen. You don’t concede when there’s death involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.”

Mr. Trump concluded his 70-minute exhortation by encouraging everyone to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to give Republicans at the Capitol “the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.” Then the president of the United States returned to the White House, at safe distance from the mayhem to unfold.

Alan Feuer contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett and Jack Begg contributed research.



Source link Nytimes.com

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